Tuesday, September 15, 2009


The month of September should be renamed Picktober. It is high season for harvesting and preserving. This year, I'm working on a new (to me) method though. With cucumbers hitting the market in force, I have turned into a pickling fool.

I started with the batch on the left. Straight forward, lacto-fermented pickles. They smelled so good after the first week that I went ahead and pickled some more stuff, starting with okra. Yep, okra. I'd had some about two years ago from a market vendor and they just floored me. With only the barest hint of slime, but crunchy and spiced oh so nice, I made a mental note: make these. So, here we are, one big half gallon of it later. Oh, and the last jar is what happens when you trade stuff, come home with various cucumber varieties and chuck them all together. I haven't sampled these yet, but I suspect they'll be just fine.

Now, where was I? Oh yes, the main body of the post, right. Time for tomatillo talk. Last year, I planted tomatillos, and as suspected many sprouts poked their heads out of the ground and reported for duty this year. Elder monkey watered them often early in the season, convinced she had planted them. They flourished. For comparison, I was given two tomatillo plants this year that when I transplanted, were much larger than the volunteers. They are puny compared to these robust creatures now.

Speaking of now, these plants are producing fruit like mad. Little dude and I went ouside and picked ourselves a nice bowl full. I was lacking any onions or peppers from the yard this year, so I was not thinking about sauce. Then it hit me: pickle them! Hell yeah, that's gotta be good right? I hit the bookshelf for a pickled tomatillo recipe for guidance. None. Damn. Not fazed by the lack of instruction, I consulted my own senses and went on.

The first batch of cucumber pickles were done and came out great. I used some of the leftover brine to start the tomatillos going. I added a few whole jalapeƱos, a few teeth of garlic and a sprig of epazote. While I was at it, in another bowl I hacked up some carrots and peeled more garlic, got out some more jalapeƱos, then collected some oregano twigs from the yard. The pickling sickness was really setting in about this point.

One short week later, everything was no longer bubbling and the brine was nice and cloudy. I tasted a few tillos and was stoked by their taste, but not really their texture. No worries though, as blending them up was now the plan. I drained everything and then dumped it in the food processor. Hitting blend for a while, it needed a tad more moisture so I gave it a splash or two of the brine. Getting nearer the consistency I was looking for, I gave it another little splish. Just by the fumes, my nose could tell it was going to be hot as hell.

Tangy from the ferment, not too salty, and indeed hot, but not unpleasantly so. Now, it goes on everything. I start my morning with a dash on the eggs. At lunch, leftover rice sure is nice. For dinner, anything. As long as it can go with some mind-bendingly easy to make, love that I ran this kind of experiment, pickled salsa verde.
(fade to the sound of a bag of chips being popped, mild diabolical laughter, then enthusiastic cookie monster-esque noshing......)


K and S said...

I have jammed and have yet to try pickling. Thanks for sharing this!

Monkey Wrangler said...

Kat: Pickle away! You can do it! It really is about the easiest way to preserve food. The hardest part is waiting for it to finish. Good luck!

Chilebrown said...

If you add some pork and drink a bunch of your home brew you will have pickled Sourdough Monkey Wrangler's Chile Verde!

Monkey Wrangler said...

Chile: Dude, I'm on it! Only, I'm apt to forget whether I add myself or the pork to the sauce if I'm too pickled.