Kitchen garden harvest: A history of pickling at home | MNN – Mother Nature Network

When most people think of home pickling today, they think of cucumber pickles sealed in a jar with vinegar. However, that is only one of two general methods of pickling: Lacto-fermentation and vinegar pickling. Both methods rely on an acidic environment for preservation, the former producing lactic acid and the latter employing acetic acid, and both can be used to pickle almost any food.

Both methods, or variations on them, have been used for thousands of years by individuals and industry to preserve the bounty of productive times for the dearth of winter or famine, or to transport food long distances. While for much of human history food preservation was a necessary means of survival, it has also developed into an art form in many cultures.

Pickling through lacto-fermentation

Pickling through lacto-fermentation is one of the most ancient and practical methods of food preservation. It enhances the nutritive value of vegetables and creates new flavor sensations. Most cultures have their own lacto-fermentation traditions practiced at home, knowledge of which is passed from generation to generation. For example, Koreans have kimchi, Germans have sauerkraut, and Salvadorans have curtido. Classic kosher dills are made through lacto-fermentation.

Some more exotic takes on lacto-fermentation are nuka bran pickling (nukazuke) and sake lees pickling in Japan. Each household often has its own living “nuka pot,” which is sometimes passed down from generation to generation, not unlike yeast strains for bread or beer making in other countries. For many Japanese, the taste of a nukazuke pickle is quite nostalgic.

Vinegar pickling

Vinegar was used for food preservation at least as far back as Roman times. It was used to preserve everything from eggs to vegetables to raw meat and whole bird carcasses. Again, remember, this was all a practical matter before the era of refrigeration and vacuum packing.

Vinegar pickling took a huge conceptual leap forward in the 19th century after the work of Nicolas Appert, a french chef and food innovator, and Louis Pasteur, after whom the eponymous process “pasteurization” was named.

Appert developed methods for sterilizing and hermetically sealing food in jars, which gave birth to the modern canning industry. Pasteur provided the science behind the process. Along with these innovations, Kilner and Mason jars were introduced in the mid-19th century. With their screw-on lids and wax or rubber seals, they provided an airtight seal that allowed for easier home canning, and thus easier home pickling.

Pickling in the U.S.

Home pickling was just part of day-to-day life for most Americans until the beginning of the 20th century, when the food system started industrializing. Home pickling became widespread again during WWII when 40 percent of commercial pickling operations were commandeered by the government for the war. So-called “Victory Gardens,” or home vegetable gardens, were promoted as a patriotic way to support the troops and war effort. Home canning and food preservation went hand-in-hand with growing food at home.

After the war ended and the food system in the U.S. fully industrialized in the 1950s and ’60s, these traditional home pickling methods were largely abandoned for industrial fare. The traditions did receive a renaissance among back-to-landers in the 1960s and ’70s, and of course many ethnic enclaves in the U.S. remained strongholds of traditional pickling methods. It continue to this day, especially among recent immigrants.

The future of home pickling

Home pickling and interest in traditional food preservation is experiencing another renaissance today as evidenced by the success of publications like “Wild Fermentation” by Sandor Katz and “The Joy of Pickling” by Linda Ziedrich. Gourmet pickle shops are sprouting up all across the country, from Cultured Pickle Shop in Berkeley, Calif., to Suddenly Sauer in Detroit, Mich., to Brooklyn Brine in New York.

Home pickling is one of those hobbies that people love to share. You can find home picklers selling their goods at underground markets across the country and on websites like Etsy.com. As more people become wary of an industrial food system progressively saturated with chemicals and genetically modified organisms, it will be no surprise if interest in home pickling continues to grow.

How to Save Money On Organic Food | Garden Guides

Instructions

Organic food is healthy, yet very expensive. If you’re trying to incorporate more fresh food into your life, however, you don’t need to break the bank to do so. In fact, just a little planning and some dedication can go a long way to finding clean healthy organic food.

Step 1

Choose some basics. While it would be great if you could buy everything organic, it may make more sense to start with just a few groceries. According to the FDA, the 12 fruits and vegetables more contaminated by pesticides are pears, peaches, strawberries, broccoli, celery, cherries, apples, spinach, bell peppers, nectarines, grapes (and raisins), corn.

Step 2

Walk around your neighborhood. Look for health food stores and Asian markets selling organic produce. Bring a small notebook with you to write down prices at different locations and then make a list featuring the best items to buy at each place. Many of these places have special discount membership cards that help you save further, or they may publish a store magazine with coupons or specials.

Step 3

Shop at farmer’s markets. If you live in a big city, you probably have weekend markets set up somewhere near where you can buy everything from fruits and vegetables to organic honey, jam and even bread. For even bigger discounts, shop late in the evening, where vendors usually lower their prices significantly (it’s better for them to sell at any price than to have to pack up everything and take it home again).

Step 4

Shop in season. Organic strawberries will be cheaper in summer than in winter, where they have to be flown in from another state or country. Availability can even change from one week to the next, so make sure you plan meals that are flexible and can be adapted depending on what’s on sale.

Step 5

Join a community-supported agriculture (CSA) program. By buying shares, you are supporting local farms, but you are also entitled to some great benefits, including a weekly crate of fruits or vegetables (depending on which program you choose). Shares are not necessarily cheap (the cost can be several hundred dollars) but you are ensured a healthy portion of organic produce all year long.

[categories Food]

Roasted Sesame Asparagus

Roasted Sesame Asparagus: Simple Healthy Dish by Martha Stewart

Source: http://www.yummly.com/recipe/external/Roasted-Sesame-Asparagus-Martha-Stewart

Roasted Sesame Asparagus

Ingredients

  • 1 12 lbs asparagus (thick, ends trimmed cut into 2 inch lengths)
  • 2 tbsps olive oil
  • coarse salt
  • 1 12 tsps sesame seeds

Directions

  • 1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees. In a roasting pan, toss with oil; season with salt. Roast 10 minutes, turning the asparagus halfway through
  • 2. Add sesame seeds, and roast until the asparagus is lightly browned and tender, about 5 minutes more.

Broiled Tofu with Miso Glaze and Asparagus | Serious Eats : Recipes

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[Photograph: Nick Kindelsperger]

Broiled Tofu with Miso Glaze and Asparagus

Ingredients

  • 4 tablespoons white miso (or Korean miso)
  • 2 tablespoons gochujang (Korean red pepper paste)
  • 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 2 teaspoons fresh grated ginger
  • 2 medium garlic cloves, minced (about 2 teaspoons)
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1 (19-ounce) package of firm tofu, drained
  • 1 tablespoon canola
  • 1 bunch asparagus, tough ends trimmed
  • 2 tablespoons sesame seeds

Procedures

  1. Heat miso, gochujang, apple cider vinegar, honey, ginger, garlic, and water in a medium saucepan over medium-low heat. Stir occasionally and cook until mixture reduces to a thick glaze, 10 to 15 minutes.
  2. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Meanwhile, dry tofu, wrap in paper towels, and weigh down with a plate. After 10 minutes, discard paper towels, cut tofu into 2-inch by 1-inch pieces. Toss with canola oil on a foil lined baking sheet.
  3. Arrange top oven rack to 6 inches below the heating element and preheat broiler to high. Set the baking sheet under the broiler and cook until tofu pieces are lightly browned on top, 3 to 4 minutes. Flip the pieces and brown lightly on the other side, another 3 to 4 minutes. Remove baking sheet from the oven.
  4. Brush the tofu pieces on both sides with the miso glaze. Set back underneath the broiler and cook until glaze has browned, 2 to 3 minutes a side.
  5. Add asparagus to the boiling water and cook until bright green and tender, about 3 minutes. Drain asparagus.
  6. Divide the tofu and asparagus between four plates. Drizzle any extra of the glaze over the asparagus. Sprinkle with sesame seeds and serve.

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With The Grain from NY Times

By MARK BITTMAN

Grains bring different characters to different seasons. When it’s cold, they’re mostly porridge, or beds for stews and stir-fries. But as spring turns to summer, it’s time to think about grains in salads. And these salads make for a terrific transition to the time, which will be here soon enough, when you wish you didn’t have to use the stove at all.

Grain salad is more of a concept than a “dish” — there are virtually infinite variations. But the current season could not be more ideal, replete with late-spring and early-summer vegetables that require only chopping, slicing or grating. All that you’ll need to cook are the grains, which neither demand very much of your attention nor heat up very much of your kitchen.

I typically opt for heartier grains that retain a chewy texture when cooked, like farro, brown or wild rice, pearled barley, wheat berries, bulgur or steel-cut oats. For grains with a bit more tenderness, quinoa, couscous and white rice are all excellent options.

The method I use to cook almost every grain — bulgur, couscous and wild rice are exceptions — is simple: Put 2 cups of the grain in a small to medium saucepan with a large pinch of salt and water to cover by about an inch. Bring it to a boil, then adjust the heat so that the mixture bubbles gently. Cook, stirring occasionally and adding boiling water if necessary to keep the grains covered; when they’re tender, they’re done. Depending on the grain you’ve chosen, this could take anywhere from 15 minutes (pearled barley) to an hour (wheat berries). If there is water remaining in the pot when you’re done, strain it. Remember that even after you toss the salad, the warm grains will continue to cook, so err slightly on the side of undercooking. Overcooked grains become gummy.

While the grains are cooking, whisk together any vinaigrette you like in the bottom of a large bowl, then prepare whatever veggies and flavorings you’re using, and toss them all together. Leftover grains work fine here, though it’s nice to toss the salad while the grains are still warm, so that they soak in the vinaigrette and intensify the flavor of the other ingredients. Warm food is good at this alchemy, and there’s time remaining to take advantage before it gets too hot.

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The Assembly: Combine about 2 cups cooked grains from above with 1 cup raw vegetables, fruit or both and flavorful accents. Toss with a vinaigrette, and serve warm or at room temperature. Serves 4.

The Dressing: Basic vinaigrette of 3 parts olive oil, 1 part lemon juice, plus salt and pepper.

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