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Posts Tagged ‘canning’

I just love pickled veggies. Crunchy, with a great garlic bite…with a hint of dill flavor, plus they are easy peasy to make, and make a great healthy snack or side dish. So, as it’s a cool and drizzly Labor Day here.. it was just perfect for spending the morning tackling some pickling.

Summer is winding down, and if I have to spend time in the kitchen canning, September’s clearly the month for me. Cooler, dryer days vs. August’s sweltering humid days… and I think I enjoy processing this time of year the most too, because now.. everything being made in my kitchen, is for my family or me! Farmers market will close in just a couple of more weeks and then the buttoning up of the farm begins, to close out yet another albeit odd and challenging growing season, but still a most productive one.

Our many tourists have packed it up, and heading back down south, ( * whispering, hooray! LOL) the kiddies back to school… apples, cider, pumpkins and comfort food meal menus will begin… and then there’s also football season! This is another of my fave seasons.. quieter (clearly), less hectic (for certain), solitude.. (my time) with long lazy daily walks on the beach (what’s not to love?) LOL

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My fave part of summer in a jar.  The picking was outstanding, in spite of our drought… the peaches a little smaller in size, but still juicy and so scrumptious! I had to restrain myself or I’d never have any in the pot! 🙂 My agenda today–habanero peach and amaretto peach jam and peach Salsa, thanks to my dear friends at Foxes Ridge Farm. Anyone that follows this blog know how much I ❤ summer peaches and can’t wait for picking season to begin each August. It was a perfect peach of a day!

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Whether you call it Chow Chow, Chow-Chow, or Seasons End Relish, this dish is made in lots of variations, just like the spelling of it’s name and comes in lots of variations.

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Around our “neck of the woods,” Chow Chow is typically one of those end of the season recipes that utilizes things that are quickly fading from the backyard garden.

It’s a way to use those tomatoes that are still on the vine, but will never turn ripe enough before the first frost gets them. Alas! Same for some of the other vegetables that are included in it. You pick them, then you figure out what you’re going to do with them. But because I got carried away planting far too many tomatoes and cabbage this year, I decided to step-up my typical seasonal year end process and use up some of my green tomatoes now, instead.

Some folks use cucumbers, some use cauliflower, some use pretty much just cabbage. If you start looking for them, you’ll find lots of different variations. It just depends on what you like and don’t like I suppose. For me, I just stick with old fashioned, family tradition.

Home Food Preservation seems to be fading away around my part of the country, at least among my non-farming/gardening friends, which I think is a crying shame.  It does take a little work, but it’s always fun afterwards to share a jar with friends and be able to say “I grew and made this myself, as a remembrance of my summer garden. ” Plus…. you always know just what went in to that jar,  and I like that a lot! (Though, sometimes my aching back grumbles a bit over what it took to get it all into those jars 🙂  Apparently my devoted customers think so too; I can’t make enough of my pickled items for market each week, because they clean my out of whatever selections I bring along!

A remembrance….

Circa 1960’s: The old metal meat grinder is firmly mounted to my mom’s kitchen table, the abundance of our summer garden stacked in bowls and baskets around us. As often as I could, I’d take a turn at the grinder, cranking the handle despite my stinging, watering eyes. I watched as onions, bell peppers, and green tomatoes were pulled into the turning screw, a crunching sound coming to my ears over the noise of the squeaky handle turning. Mom hovered, sure that with every turn of the handle one of my tender young fingers might join the mix in the pot that was catching the crushed green vegetables. LOL! Clear juices, tinted green, dripped from every point of the old grinder, running down to my elbow and then to the floor where a large towel was ready to catch the overflow. The bright green pulp from the unripe remains of a bountiful harvest would be transformed into a relish with the funny name, “chow chow.”

Circa twenty-first century: As times have changed, so too have my methods. Nowadays, my Cuisinart food processor makes quick work of the unripe tomatoes, peppers, and onions. But while I am feeling nostalgic about the days I spent hand cranking the grinder in my mom’s kitchen, I share the details with my daughters. I want them to know that this is a family recipe, one that my grandmother and theirs made, salvaging the last of the fruit from the vine before winter relegated them to the compost heap. Forty-some years later, the chow chow tastes the same and my eyes still water, though as I think back to my childhood…. I’m not sure if it’s the pungent ingredients or the memories that cause the tears. Perhaps both! 🙂

I made this a few years back, and placed a jar in the New Hampshire State Fair. It won Second Place that year, and this year I’m planning to enter a new batch with hopes of getting that prized Blue Ribbon. We’ll see. Happy gardening!

 

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