Dilly Beans (Pickled Green Beans)

Saturday, July 30, 2016

Dilly beans - a.k.a. pickled green beans by Eve Fox, the Garden of Eating, copyright 2016

I didn't grow up with dilly beans so I never knew about them until our friend, Ben busted out a jar he'd made and I bit into my first crunchy, garlicky, dilly pickled green bean. I was immediately smitten.

Fortunately, my mom-in-law planted way too many bush bean plants this spring and she's practically drowning in beautiful beans. When she brought a huge bag over the other day, I thought DILLY BEANS!!!

Green beans by Eve Fox, the Garden of Eating, copyright 2016

Since our three cucumber plants are determined to fill the world with bumpy, little, green penises, I also made dill pickles at the same time, using the same spices and brine. But that's a post for another day.

Spices for dilly beans by Eve Fox, the Garden of Eating, copyright 2016

The recipe below is adapted from Marisa McLellan's excellent blog, Food In Jars. If you like canning, you owe it to yourself to get at least one of her wonderful books. I use my copy of her beautiful, little book, Food In Jars all the time - it's one of my go-to resources for canning and preserving.

As with all preserves, use the freshest ingredients you can get. If you have a garden, pick your beans and your dill the same morning you plan to can. They are delicious eaten right out of the jar and make a wonderful substitute for a pickle with a sandwich or burger. They're also the toast of any cheese plate. (Yes, that was a pun.) Happy munching.


Dilly beans - a.k.a. pickled green beans by Eve Fox, the Garden of Eating, copyright 2016

-- print recipe --
Dilly Beans
Makes 4 pints

Ingredients

* 2 pounds fresh green beans, trimmed to fit your jars
* 2 1/2 cups apple cider vinegar (5% acidity)
* 2 1/2 cups water
* 2 Tbsps pickling or fine sea salt
* 4 tsps dill seed (1 tsp per jar)
* 2 tsps black peppercorns (1/2 tsp per jar)
* 1 tsp red chili flakes (1/4 tsp per jar)
* 4 cloves garlic, peeled (1 clove per jar)
* 8 sprigs fresh dill rinsed (2 sprigs per jar)

Directions

1. Bring a canning pot of water to a boil and sterilize 4 pint jars. Place 4 lids in a small pot of water and bring to a bare simmer.

2. Wash and trim your beans so that they fit in your jar, leaving about an inch of headspace. If you have particularly long beans, cut them in half.

3. In a medium saucepan, combine the vinegar, water and salt and bring to a boil.

4. Divide the dill seed, peppercorns, red chili flake, and garlic cloves evenly between the four jars and pack the beans carefully into the jars over top of the spices.

5. Pour the boiling brine over the beans, leaving 1/2 inch headspace and gently tap the jars to loosen any trapped air bubbles. If you have any stubborn bubbles, use a clean chopstick, skewer or knife to wiggle them out.

6. Using a damp cloth or paper towel, wipe the jar rims, apply the lids and bands, tightening with your fingers only.

7. Process the jars in a boiling water bath for 10 minutes then use your jar lifter to remove them and place them in a draft-free location on a heavy kitchen towel to cool.

8. Once the jars are cool enough to handle, remove the bands and test the seals. Sealed jars can be stored in the pantry for up to a year. Any jars the seals failed on should be placed in the fridge and eaten within a couple of weeks. *Please note: wait at least two weeks before you eat any of the beans to give them time to develop their flavor.

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Dina Falconi Talks Foraging

Wednesday, July 27, 2016


I recently had the good fortune to interview Dina Falconi, one of the Hudson Valley's foremost foraging and wildcrafting experts for Hudson Valley Magazine. I think of her as a "good witch" - her well of knowledge about wild plants is deep and she's a lively, fascinating person to boot. Read the piece here.


She's also the author of a wonderful book called Foraging & Feasting which covers 50 wild plants in tremendous detail and has a wealth of recipes - three of which you'll find in the article. The book is illustrated by Wendy Hollender who did an amazing job bringing each plant to life in great detail.


You can read the full article here. And don't miss the tips on foraging or the three recipes I selected from the book for a wild greens and grain salad bowl, leaf and flower custard ice cream, and garlic mustard greens pesto.


The photos are by my very talented friend, Jennifer May, who was the one who inspired the piece in the first place after going on a foraging walk with Dina earlier in the summer. It's always a pleasure to collaborate with Jen :)

I hope you enjoy it!

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Pickled Carrots with Coriander & Cumin Seed

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Pickled carrots with coriander from the Ball Book of Canning & Preserving by Eve Fox, the Garden of Eating, copyright 2016

Tomorrow is Can-It-Forward Day and these carrots are a great way to celebrate. Crunchy, sweet, salty, piquant and wonderfully flavorful, these pickled carrots deserve top billing on any cheese or charcuterie plate.

The carrots in our garden are practically begging to be picked right now. And although my little boy bunnies will happily eat a couple of carrots a day, we planted a lot more than we can eat. This seemed like the perfect way to preserve some of them for future eating enjoyment.

Nantes carrots from the garden by Eve Fox, the Garden of Eating, copyright 2015

If you don't grow your own carrots, pick up a bunch or two at your local farmers' market or farm stand.

Carrots from our garden by Eve Fox, the Garden of Eating, copyright 2016

The recipe below is adapted from the All New Ball Book of Canning and Preserving - one of the many recipes I'd tagged to try. I have both the old and the new Ball books and they're both great resources (click here and scroll down for more canning and preserving cookbooks, blogs and resources I like.)

Ingredients for pickled carrots with coriander seedfrom the All New Ball Book of Canning & Preserving by Eve Fox, the Garden of Eating, copyright 2016

As with any canning project, it's easy if you follow the steps and make sure you have everything you need ready to go (I often find that I have run out of lids or bands and have to run out to the store mid-project...)

Packing the jars with carrots before adding the brine by Eve Fox, the Garden of Eating, copyright 2016

If you feel overwhelmed by the prospect of canning something, you can always make these as refrigerator pickles - do everything through step 4 but stop short of actually processing the filled jars in the boiling water bath. Instead, just cover tightly and store in the fridge for up to a month. Enjoy!

Pickled carrots with coriander from the Ball Book of Canning & Preserving by Eve Fox, the Garden of Eating, copyright 2016

If you're new to canning, start by reading this little primer I've put together.

-- print recipe --
Pickled Carrots with Coriander & Cumin Seed
Makes four 1-pint jars

Ingredients

* 3 pounds small (3- to 5-inch) carrots
* 3 cups white vinegar (5% acidity)
* 1/2 cup cider vinegar
* 1 cup water
* 1/4 cup non-iodized salt (you can either use canning salt or plain old sea salt but skip the iodized table salt as it imparts a yucky flavor to the food)
* 1/4 cup cane sugar
* 2 tsps coriander seeds
* 2 tsps cumin seed
* 2 tsps black peppercorns
* 1 tsp red pepper seed
* 4 garlic cloves, peeled
* 8 sprigs fresh dill

Directions

1. Bring a large pot of water to a boil and sterilize the jars, lids and bands.

2. While your jars are boiling, wash and peel the carrots and remove the tops. Trim any carrots that are longer than 4 inches so that they’ll fit comfortably within the jars and cut them in half lengthwise. Or, if you're using longer, fatter carrots, cut them to the right length to fit into your pint jars and slice them into quarters or sixths, depending on how fat they are.

3. Combine the vinegar, salt, sugar and water in a 4-qt. stainless steel saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring until salt and sugar dissolve then reduce the heat and simmer until ready to fill jars.

4. Divide the dried spices, garlic and fresh and dill evenly between the jars then pack tightly with the sliced. Ladle the hot pickling liquid into the jars to cover all the carrots, 1/2-inch headspace. Lay the lids on top and add the bands, tightening with your fingers. Using your jar lifter, place the jars in the boiling water bath and process for 15 minutes.

5. Remove the jars from the boiling water bath and let stand, undisturbed, at room temperature for 24 hours. Check the seals by removing the bands and picking the jar up by the lid only. If the lid is firm, the seal is good. If not, you can either open it up and re-process it but I would just keep that jar in the fridge. Store properly sealed jars in a cool, dark place for several weeks before tasting. Store jars in a cool, dark place for up to a year. Refrigerate after opening.

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Ball Canning Book Giveaway

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

This Friday, July 22nd is the 6th annual Can-It-Forward Day. Perfect timing for a giveaway of the following goodies from Ball Jars. These are all great things to help you either get started with canning and preserving or,if you're already a dyed-in-the-wool food preserver, to help you take your preserving efforts up yet another notch.

1. The All New Ball Book of Canning and Preserving:  A newly updated version of their iconic canning cookbook with more than 200 recipes - everything from jams and jellies to jerkies, pickles, salsas and more. I have a copy of both this version and the older one and love them both.


2. A case of Ball's special collection wide mouth blue pint jars: For the first time, the Ball® brand has introduced a line of retro blue glass jars. Kinda fun, eh?

3. One $5 off coupon to be used on whatever you need from Ball's online store - www.FreshPreservingStore.com. Free money!

Entering is easy -- just leave a comment on this post telling me your name, email and what your favorite thing to preserve is before midnight on Friday, July 22nd. Don't feel you have to limit yourself to canning - there's also drying, freezing and infusing!

You can also improve your chances of winning by doing any or all of the following - just let me know what you've done via your comment:

1. Like The Garden of Eating on Facebook.
2. Sign up to receive new blog posts by email.
3. Tweet about this giveaway - make sure your post includes a link back to this post. You can retweet my tweet below or feel free to write your own.

4. Share this giveaway on Facebook - make sure your post includes a link back to this post. You can just hit share below if you like.



You must enter by midnight on 7/22/16 to qualify. Also, I will not add you to my email list - I just need a way to contact you if you happen to win. This giveaway is only open to people in the continental U.S. One lucky winner will be chosen at random. Good luck!

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Linden Blossom Syrup

Monday, July 11, 2016

Linden flower syrup by Eve Fox, the Garden of Eating, copyright 2016

For about two weeks every summer, you can harvest the beautiful, fragrant flowers of the linden tree and use them to make a delicious syrup. Here in upstate New York, the flowers have just finished but those of you who live further north may be in luck.

Linden flowers by Eve Fox, the Garden of Eating, copyright 2016

There are about 30 or so different species of beautiful, stately trees in the genus Tilia. And they have several common names -- in Britain, they're called either lime trees or linden trees and in North America, they may also be called basswood trees. But linden is my favorite so I'm sticking with it.

Linden flowers by Eve Fox, the Garden of Eating, copyright 2016

Each little spray of flowers (I just learned that each individual grouping of flowers is called an "inflorescence" which I love the sound of) has a thin, papery, green "bract" at the bottom of it. Although the bracts are edible, I removed them before making the syrup as they don't add much in the way of flavor and have a tendency to make things mucilaginous. You want to pick the flowers when some of them have yet to open - that way you do not get them too late.

Linden flowers by Eve Fox, the Garden of Eating, copyright 2016

Making the flower-infused simple syrup is easy - all you need is lemons, water, sugar, linden flowers and patience.

Linden flowers by Eve Fox, the Garden of Eating, copyright 2016

You start by heating the sugar and water (in this case, I used some agave, too, but you can use all sugar and the color of the syrup will likely be lighter). While it's heating, give the flowers a rinse and a little shake. Once the simple syrup is ready, simply add the flowers along with some lemon juice and zest and give it a stir.

Making Linden flower-infused simple syrup by Eve Fox, the Garden of Eating, copyright 2016

Let it come to room temperature then put it in the fridge (covered) and wait a few days for the flavor of the flowers to infuse the syrup. When the time is right, drain the solids and store the flower-infused syrup in an airtight container in the fridge for up to a month.

Linden flower syrup by Eve Fox, the Garden of Eating, copyright 2016

Use it to make cocktails (see here). Or just add it to some seltzer with a little lemon juice for a delicious spritzer. It's great with fruit or yogurt and it was divine drizzled over the panna cotta with strawberries. Just a note: many other parts of the linden tree are also edible and have various medicinal uses. You can also simply dry the flowers to make a floral tea.

Perfect Panna Cotta with fresh strawberries and linden blossom syrup by Eve Fox, the Garden of Eating, copyright 2016

-- print recipe --
Linden Blossom Syrup
Makes roughly 3 pints

Ingredients

* 3 cups water
* 5 cups linden blossoms (choose sprays that have some flowers that are open and some buds that are not)
* 4 organic lemons, zest and juice (make sure not to include any of the white pith)
* 1 lb organic cane sugar
* 1 1/2 cups organic agave nectar

Directions

1. Add the sugar and agave nectar to the water in a non-reactive pot (no copper) and bring just to a boil, stirring until the sugar is completely dissolved.

2. Rinse the blossoms and give a little shake to remove any bugs or dirt. Take the pot off the heat and add the lemon juice, zest and flowers.

3. Cover and leave on the counter for about a day then put in the fridge for two to four days to give the flowers time to infuse their flavor into the syrup. Four days is better than two.

4. Pour the syrup through a fine-meshed metal sieve, cheesecloth or a jelly bag into the glass jars or bottles of your choice (I used three glass pint-sized Mason jars) Remove sugar water from the heat and add the lemon juice, zest, and flowers. Cover, allow to come to room temperature, and set aside for a day. Screw the lids on tight and refrigerate - it should keep for at least a month (just check the top for mold :))

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Perfect Panna Cotta with Fresh Strawberries

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Perfect Panna Cotta with fresh strawberries and linden blossom syrup by Eve Fox, the Garden of Eating, copyright 2016

I love to eat pudding but rarely make it because the whole custard aspect feels too involved except on rare occasions. Then I saw this recipe for perfect panna cotta on David Leibovitz' blog and decided to give it a whirl because, no custard! And I was also looking for ways to show off the beautiful berries we'd just picked at our annual pilgrimage to Story Farms in Catskill.

Fresh strawberries from Story Farm in Catskill, NY by Eve Fox, the Garden of Eating, copyright 2016

David wasn't exaggerating - it is amazingly easy to make, thanks to the powdered gelatin. Just make sure to start several hours before you plan to serve dessert as it needs time to cool in order to set fully.

Knox powdered gelatine by Eve Fox, the Garden of Eating, copyright 2016

I do not own a matched set of custard cups and I currently have only one ramekin so I used a combination of bowls and my small army of used Bonne Maman jam jars. One other reason to go with the jam jars is that you can just screw that little red-and-white-checked lid onto the jar, making it easier to store and transport if you wanted to something decadent like bring these on a picnic.

Perfect Panna Cotta in a Bonne Maman jam jar by Eve Fox, the Garden of Eating, copyright 2016

You can either unmold the panna cotta or just serve it as is in the bowl or jar you made it in with the fruit/syrup/chocolate right on top - equally tasty and pretty and much easier, methinks. I unmolded one (as pictured below) and then left the rest in their respective jars and bowls.

Perfect Panna Cotta with fresh strawberries and linden blossom syrup by Eve Fox, the Garden of Eating, copyright 2016

Serve with the fresh fruit of your choice - strawberries, peaches, raspberries, blueberries and more. You could also shave a little dark chocolate over it or drizzle a little honey on it if you don't have any fruit on hand. I added a drizzle of the linden blossom syrup that's currently infusing in my fridge (post coming soon) to mine and it was divine.

Perfect Panna Cotta with fresh strawberries and linden blossom syrup by Eve Fox, the Garden of Eating, copyright 2016

-- print recipe --
Perfect Panna Cotta adapted from Judy Witts Francini's Secrets from My Tuscan Kitchen
Makes 8 servings

Ingredients

* 4 cups (2 pints) heavy cream or half-and-half - I used 1 pint of each
* 1/2 cup organic cane sugar
* 2 tsps pure vanilla extract
* 2 packets powdered gelatin (about 4 1/2 teaspoons)
* 6 Tbsps cold water

Directions

1. Heat the heavy cream and sugar in a saucepan or microwave. Once the sugar is dissolved, remove from heat and stir in the vanilla extract.

2. Lightly grease eight small cups or bowls with a neutral-tasting oil - avocado, coconut, safflower, etc.

3. Sprinkle the gelatin over the cold water in a medium-sized bowl and let stand 5 to 10 minutes. Don't be alarmed if it has an unappealing, acrid odor.

4. Pour the very warm cream and sugar mixture over the gelatin and stir until the gelatin is completely dissolved.

5. Divide the mixture into the bowls or cups, then chill until firm - between 2-4 hours. If you'd like to unmold them before serving, run a sharp knife carefully around the edge of each bowl/cup and turn out onto a plate (I had to give mine quite a bit of assistance.) Top with fruit, chocolate, honey or syrup and serve.

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What To Do With Less Than Perfect Jam

Saturday, July 2, 2016

Jam ready to jar by Eve Fox, Garden of Eating blog, copyright 2012

Sometimes my jam is a flop. Either it does not set or I let it go too long and it turns into more of a "butter" than a jam. The silver lining is that there are delicious uses for these "flawed" jams. Or, if you simply have too much perfect jam on your hands, read on for creative ways to use it up.

Runny

Runny jam is just a fruit sauce that failed to live up to jammy expectations. Fortunately, fruit sauce is the perfect thing to:

  • Spoon into plain yogurt, 
  • Flavor and sweeten a smoothie or milkshake, 
  • Drizzle over pancakes or waffles,
  • Use as a sauce for decadent ice cream sundaes, 
  • Create wonderful cocktails (see here for some guidance) or non-alcoholic spritzers, or
  • Throw some into a marinade for meat or fish - a great way to add flavor, sugar and acid all in one fell swoop. I especially like to use a little apricot, fig or cherry jam in marinades.
Three pints of homemade strawberry jam by Eve Fox, Garden of Eating blog, copyright 2012

Overboiled

On the other side of the spectrum, you may have a jam that boiled too long and is more like a fruit butter than a jewel-like jam.

There are many uses for this type of jam, including:
  • Add a huge shot of fruit flavor to a layer cake,
  • Swirl some into your cobbler, cornbread or muffin batter,
  • Fill a cookie or pastry - think hamantaschen, thumbprint cookies, scones, or danish.
  • Fill a tart - either a traditional one or a DIY pop-tart.
But my favorite way to use up this type of jam is to make fruit leather with it. We made a huge batch of strawberry jam last June that just would not set (probably because we skipped the maceration step altogether due to child-related distraction) so we kept on boiling away and it turned into a dark, thick strawberry jam that none of us wanted to eat on our toast.

But last week, we realized we needed more space for this June's batch of strawberry jam (which turned out quite nicely) so we took all the jars out of the pantry and spread that dark, thick jam out on a couple of Silpats and put them in the food dehydrator. The result was the most delicious strawberry fruit leathers we've ever made!

Strawberry jam fruit leathers by Eve Fox, the Garden of Eating, copyright 2016
Got any ideas to share? Use the comments field to share your jam genius.

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Saturday, July 30, 2016

Dilly Beans (Pickled Green Beans)

Dilly beans - a.k.a. pickled green beans by Eve Fox, the Garden of Eating, copyright 2016

I didn't grow up with dilly beans so I never knew about them until our friend, Ben busted out a jar he'd made and I bit into my first crunchy, garlicky, dilly pickled green bean. I was immediately smitten.

Fortunately, my mom-in-law planted way too many bush bean plants this spring and she's practically drowning in beautiful beans. When she brought a huge bag over the other day, I thought DILLY BEANS!!!

Green beans by Eve Fox, the Garden of Eating, copyright 2016

Since our three cucumber plants are determined to fill the world with bumpy, little, green penises, I also made dill pickles at the same time, using the same spices and brine. But that's a post for another day.

Spices for dilly beans by Eve Fox, the Garden of Eating, copyright 2016

The recipe below is adapted from Marisa McLellan's excellent blog, Food In Jars. If you like canning, you owe it to yourself to get at least one of her wonderful books. I use my copy of her beautiful, little book, Food In Jars all the time - it's one of my go-to resources for canning and preserving.

As with all preserves, use the freshest ingredients you can get. If you have a garden, pick your beans and your dill the same morning you plan to can. They are delicious eaten right out of the jar and make a wonderful substitute for a pickle with a sandwich or burger. They're also the toast of any cheese plate. (Yes, that was a pun.) Happy munching.


Dilly beans - a.k.a. pickled green beans by Eve Fox, the Garden of Eating, copyright 2016

-- print recipe --
Dilly Beans
Makes 4 pints

Ingredients

* 2 pounds fresh green beans, trimmed to fit your jars
* 2 1/2 cups apple cider vinegar (5% acidity)
* 2 1/2 cups water
* 2 Tbsps pickling or fine sea salt
* 4 tsps dill seed (1 tsp per jar)
* 2 tsps black peppercorns (1/2 tsp per jar)
* 1 tsp red chili flakes (1/4 tsp per jar)
* 4 cloves garlic, peeled (1 clove per jar)
* 8 sprigs fresh dill rinsed (2 sprigs per jar)

Directions

1. Bring a canning pot of water to a boil and sterilize 4 pint jars. Place 4 lids in a small pot of water and bring to a bare simmer.

2. Wash and trim your beans so that they fit in your jar, leaving about an inch of headspace. If you have particularly long beans, cut them in half.

3. In a medium saucepan, combine the vinegar, water and salt and bring to a boil.

4. Divide the dill seed, peppercorns, red chili flake, and garlic cloves evenly between the four jars and pack the beans carefully into the jars over top of the spices.

5. Pour the boiling brine over the beans, leaving 1/2 inch headspace and gently tap the jars to loosen any trapped air bubbles. If you have any stubborn bubbles, use a clean chopstick, skewer or knife to wiggle them out.

6. Using a damp cloth or paper towel, wipe the jar rims, apply the lids and bands, tightening with your fingers only.

7. Process the jars in a boiling water bath for 10 minutes then use your jar lifter to remove them and place them in a draft-free location on a heavy kitchen towel to cool.

8. Once the jars are cool enough to handle, remove the bands and test the seals. Sealed jars can be stored in the pantry for up to a year. Any jars the seals failed on should be placed in the fridge and eaten within a couple of weeks. *Please note: wait at least two weeks before you eat any of the beans to give them time to develop their flavor.

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Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Dina Falconi Talks Foraging


I recently had the good fortune to interview Dina Falconi, one of the Hudson Valley's foremost foraging and wildcrafting experts for Hudson Valley Magazine. I think of her as a "good witch" - her well of knowledge about wild plants is deep and she's a lively, fascinating person to boot. Read the piece here.


She's also the author of a wonderful book called Foraging & Feasting which covers 50 wild plants in tremendous detail and has a wealth of recipes - three of which you'll find in the article. The book is illustrated by Wendy Hollender who did an amazing job bringing each plant to life in great detail.


You can read the full article here. And don't miss the tips on foraging or the three recipes I selected from the book for a wild greens and grain salad bowl, leaf and flower custard ice cream, and garlic mustard greens pesto.


The photos are by my very talented friend, Jennifer May, who was the one who inspired the piece in the first place after going on a foraging walk with Dina earlier in the summer. It's always a pleasure to collaborate with Jen :)

I hope you enjoy it!

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Thursday, July 21, 2016

Pickled Carrots with Coriander & Cumin Seed

Pickled carrots with coriander from the Ball Book of Canning & Preserving by Eve Fox, the Garden of Eating, copyright 2016

Tomorrow is Can-It-Forward Day and these carrots are a great way to celebrate. Crunchy, sweet, salty, piquant and wonderfully flavorful, these pickled carrots deserve top billing on any cheese or charcuterie plate.

The carrots in our garden are practically begging to be picked right now. And although my little boy bunnies will happily eat a couple of carrots a day, we planted a lot more than we can eat. This seemed like the perfect way to preserve some of them for future eating enjoyment.

Nantes carrots from the garden by Eve Fox, the Garden of Eating, copyright 2015

If you don't grow your own carrots, pick up a bunch or two at your local farmers' market or farm stand.

Carrots from our garden by Eve Fox, the Garden of Eating, copyright 2016

The recipe below is adapted from the All New Ball Book of Canning and Preserving - one of the many recipes I'd tagged to try. I have both the old and the new Ball books and they're both great resources (click here and scroll down for more canning and preserving cookbooks, blogs and resources I like.)

Ingredients for pickled carrots with coriander seedfrom the All New Ball Book of Canning & Preserving by Eve Fox, the Garden of Eating, copyright 2016

As with any canning project, it's easy if you follow the steps and make sure you have everything you need ready to go (I often find that I have run out of lids or bands and have to run out to the store mid-project...)

Packing the jars with carrots before adding the brine by Eve Fox, the Garden of Eating, copyright 2016

If you feel overwhelmed by the prospect of canning something, you can always make these as refrigerator pickles - do everything through step 4 but stop short of actually processing the filled jars in the boiling water bath. Instead, just cover tightly and store in the fridge for up to a month. Enjoy!

Pickled carrots with coriander from the Ball Book of Canning & Preserving by Eve Fox, the Garden of Eating, copyright 2016

If you're new to canning, start by reading this little primer I've put together.

-- print recipe --
Pickled Carrots with Coriander & Cumin Seed
Makes four 1-pint jars

Ingredients

* 3 pounds small (3- to 5-inch) carrots
* 3 cups white vinegar (5% acidity)
* 1/2 cup cider vinegar
* 1 cup water
* 1/4 cup non-iodized salt (you can either use canning salt or plain old sea salt but skip the iodized table salt as it imparts a yucky flavor to the food)
* 1/4 cup cane sugar
* 2 tsps coriander seeds
* 2 tsps cumin seed
* 2 tsps black peppercorns
* 1 tsp red pepper seed
* 4 garlic cloves, peeled
* 8 sprigs fresh dill

Directions

1. Bring a large pot of water to a boil and sterilize the jars, lids and bands.

2. While your jars are boiling, wash and peel the carrots and remove the tops. Trim any carrots that are longer than 4 inches so that they’ll fit comfortably within the jars and cut them in half lengthwise. Or, if you're using longer, fatter carrots, cut them to the right length to fit into your pint jars and slice them into quarters or sixths, depending on how fat they are.

3. Combine the vinegar, salt, sugar and water in a 4-qt. stainless steel saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring until salt and sugar dissolve then reduce the heat and simmer until ready to fill jars.

4. Divide the dried spices, garlic and fresh and dill evenly between the jars then pack tightly with the sliced. Ladle the hot pickling liquid into the jars to cover all the carrots, 1/2-inch headspace. Lay the lids on top and add the bands, tightening with your fingers. Using your jar lifter, place the jars in the boiling water bath and process for 15 minutes.

5. Remove the jars from the boiling water bath and let stand, undisturbed, at room temperature for 24 hours. Check the seals by removing the bands and picking the jar up by the lid only. If the lid is firm, the seal is good. If not, you can either open it up and re-process it but I would just keep that jar in the fridge. Store properly sealed jars in a cool, dark place for several weeks before tasting. Store jars in a cool, dark place for up to a year. Refrigerate after opening.

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Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Ball Canning Book Giveaway

This Friday, July 22nd is the 6th annual Can-It-Forward Day. Perfect timing for a giveaway of the following goodies from Ball Jars. These are all great things to help you either get started with canning and preserving or,if you're already a dyed-in-the-wool food preserver, to help you take your preserving efforts up yet another notch.

1. The All New Ball Book of Canning and Preserving:  A newly updated version of their iconic canning cookbook with more than 200 recipes - everything from jams and jellies to jerkies, pickles, salsas and more. I have a copy of both this version and the older one and love them both.


2. A case of Ball's special collection wide mouth blue pint jars: For the first time, the Ball® brand has introduced a line of retro blue glass jars. Kinda fun, eh?

3. One $5 off coupon to be used on whatever you need from Ball's online store - www.FreshPreservingStore.com. Free money!

Entering is easy -- just leave a comment on this post telling me your name, email and what your favorite thing to preserve is before midnight on Friday, July 22nd. Don't feel you have to limit yourself to canning - there's also drying, freezing and infusing!

You can also improve your chances of winning by doing any or all of the following - just let me know what you've done via your comment:

1. Like The Garden of Eating on Facebook.
2. Sign up to receive new blog posts by email.
3. Tweet about this giveaway - make sure your post includes a link back to this post. You can retweet my tweet below or feel free to write your own.

4. Share this giveaway on Facebook - make sure your post includes a link back to this post. You can just hit share below if you like.



You must enter by midnight on 7/22/16 to qualify. Also, I will not add you to my email list - I just need a way to contact you if you happen to win. This giveaway is only open to people in the continental U.S. One lucky winner will be chosen at random. Good luck!

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Monday, July 11, 2016

Linden Blossom Syrup

Linden flower syrup by Eve Fox, the Garden of Eating, copyright 2016

For about two weeks every summer, you can harvest the beautiful, fragrant flowers of the linden tree and use them to make a delicious syrup. Here in upstate New York, the flowers have just finished but those of you who live further north may be in luck.

Linden flowers by Eve Fox, the Garden of Eating, copyright 2016

There are about 30 or so different species of beautiful, stately trees in the genus Tilia. And they have several common names -- in Britain, they're called either lime trees or linden trees and in North America, they may also be called basswood trees. But linden is my favorite so I'm sticking with it.

Linden flowers by Eve Fox, the Garden of Eating, copyright 2016

Each little spray of flowers (I just learned that each individual grouping of flowers is called an "inflorescence" which I love the sound of) has a thin, papery, green "bract" at the bottom of it. Although the bracts are edible, I removed them before making the syrup as they don't add much in the way of flavor and have a tendency to make things mucilaginous. You want to pick the flowers when some of them have yet to open - that way you do not get them too late.

Linden flowers by Eve Fox, the Garden of Eating, copyright 2016

Making the flower-infused simple syrup is easy - all you need is lemons, water, sugar, linden flowers and patience.

Linden flowers by Eve Fox, the Garden of Eating, copyright 2016

You start by heating the sugar and water (in this case, I used some agave, too, but you can use all sugar and the color of the syrup will likely be lighter). While it's heating, give the flowers a rinse and a little shake. Once the simple syrup is ready, simply add the flowers along with some lemon juice and zest and give it a stir.

Making Linden flower-infused simple syrup by Eve Fox, the Garden of Eating, copyright 2016

Let it come to room temperature then put it in the fridge (covered) and wait a few days for the flavor of the flowers to infuse the syrup. When the time is right, drain the solids and store the flower-infused syrup in an airtight container in the fridge for up to a month.

Linden flower syrup by Eve Fox, the Garden of Eating, copyright 2016

Use it to make cocktails (see here). Or just add it to some seltzer with a little lemon juice for a delicious spritzer. It's great with fruit or yogurt and it was divine drizzled over the panna cotta with strawberries. Just a note: many other parts of the linden tree are also edible and have various medicinal uses. You can also simply dry the flowers to make a floral tea.

Perfect Panna Cotta with fresh strawberries and linden blossom syrup by Eve Fox, the Garden of Eating, copyright 2016

-- print recipe --
Linden Blossom Syrup
Makes roughly 3 pints

Ingredients

* 3 cups water
* 5 cups linden blossoms (choose sprays that have some flowers that are open and some buds that are not)
* 4 organic lemons, zest and juice (make sure not to include any of the white pith)
* 1 lb organic cane sugar
* 1 1/2 cups organic agave nectar

Directions

1. Add the sugar and agave nectar to the water in a non-reactive pot (no copper) and bring just to a boil, stirring until the sugar is completely dissolved.

2. Rinse the blossoms and give a little shake to remove any bugs or dirt. Take the pot off the heat and add the lemon juice, zest and flowers.

3. Cover and leave on the counter for about a day then put in the fridge for two to four days to give the flowers time to infuse their flavor into the syrup. Four days is better than two.

4. Pour the syrup through a fine-meshed metal sieve, cheesecloth or a jelly bag into the glass jars or bottles of your choice (I used three glass pint-sized Mason jars) Remove sugar water from the heat and add the lemon juice, zest, and flowers. Cover, allow to come to room temperature, and set aside for a day. Screw the lids on tight and refrigerate - it should keep for at least a month (just check the top for mold :))

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Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Perfect Panna Cotta with Fresh Strawberries

Perfect Panna Cotta with fresh strawberries and linden blossom syrup by Eve Fox, the Garden of Eating, copyright 2016

I love to eat pudding but rarely make it because the whole custard aspect feels too involved except on rare occasions. Then I saw this recipe for perfect panna cotta on David Leibovitz' blog and decided to give it a whirl because, no custard! And I was also looking for ways to show off the beautiful berries we'd just picked at our annual pilgrimage to Story Farms in Catskill.

Fresh strawberries from Story Farm in Catskill, NY by Eve Fox, the Garden of Eating, copyright 2016

David wasn't exaggerating - it is amazingly easy to make, thanks to the powdered gelatin. Just make sure to start several hours before you plan to serve dessert as it needs time to cool in order to set fully.

Knox powdered gelatine by Eve Fox, the Garden of Eating, copyright 2016

I do not own a matched set of custard cups and I currently have only one ramekin so I used a combination of bowls and my small army of used Bonne Maman jam jars. One other reason to go with the jam jars is that you can just screw that little red-and-white-checked lid onto the jar, making it easier to store and transport if you wanted to something decadent like bring these on a picnic.

Perfect Panna Cotta in a Bonne Maman jam jar by Eve Fox, the Garden of Eating, copyright 2016

You can either unmold the panna cotta or just serve it as is in the bowl or jar you made it in with the fruit/syrup/chocolate right on top - equally tasty and pretty and much easier, methinks. I unmolded one (as pictured below) and then left the rest in their respective jars and bowls.

Perfect Panna Cotta with fresh strawberries and linden blossom syrup by Eve Fox, the Garden of Eating, copyright 2016

Serve with the fresh fruit of your choice - strawberries, peaches, raspberries, blueberries and more. You could also shave a little dark chocolate over it or drizzle a little honey on it if you don't have any fruit on hand. I added a drizzle of the linden blossom syrup that's currently infusing in my fridge (post coming soon) to mine and it was divine.

Perfect Panna Cotta with fresh strawberries and linden blossom syrup by Eve Fox, the Garden of Eating, copyright 2016

-- print recipe --
Perfect Panna Cotta adapted from Judy Witts Francini's Secrets from My Tuscan Kitchen
Makes 8 servings

Ingredients

* 4 cups (2 pints) heavy cream or half-and-half - I used 1 pint of each
* 1/2 cup organic cane sugar
* 2 tsps pure vanilla extract
* 2 packets powdered gelatin (about 4 1/2 teaspoons)
* 6 Tbsps cold water

Directions

1. Heat the heavy cream and sugar in a saucepan or microwave. Once the sugar is dissolved, remove from heat and stir in the vanilla extract.

2. Lightly grease eight small cups or bowls with a neutral-tasting oil - avocado, coconut, safflower, etc.

3. Sprinkle the gelatin over the cold water in a medium-sized bowl and let stand 5 to 10 minutes. Don't be alarmed if it has an unappealing, acrid odor.

4. Pour the very warm cream and sugar mixture over the gelatin and stir until the gelatin is completely dissolved.

5. Divide the mixture into the bowls or cups, then chill until firm - between 2-4 hours. If you'd like to unmold them before serving, run a sharp knife carefully around the edge of each bowl/cup and turn out onto a plate (I had to give mine quite a bit of assistance.) Top with fruit, chocolate, honey or syrup and serve.

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Saturday, July 2, 2016

What To Do With Less Than Perfect Jam

Jam ready to jar by Eve Fox, Garden of Eating blog, copyright 2012

Sometimes my jam is a flop. Either it does not set or I let it go too long and it turns into more of a "butter" than a jam. The silver lining is that there are delicious uses for these "flawed" jams. Or, if you simply have too much perfect jam on your hands, read on for creative ways to use it up.

Runny

Runny jam is just a fruit sauce that failed to live up to jammy expectations. Fortunately, fruit sauce is the perfect thing to:

  • Spoon into plain yogurt, 
  • Flavor and sweeten a smoothie or milkshake, 
  • Drizzle over pancakes or waffles,
  • Use as a sauce for decadent ice cream sundaes, 
  • Create wonderful cocktails (see here for some guidance) or non-alcoholic spritzers, or
  • Throw some into a marinade for meat or fish - a great way to add flavor, sugar and acid all in one fell swoop. I especially like to use a little apricot, fig or cherry jam in marinades.
Three pints of homemade strawberry jam by Eve Fox, Garden of Eating blog, copyright 2012

Overboiled

On the other side of the spectrum, you may have a jam that boiled too long and is more like a fruit butter than a jewel-like jam.

There are many uses for this type of jam, including:
  • Add a huge shot of fruit flavor to a layer cake,
  • Swirl some into your cobbler, cornbread or muffin batter,
  • Fill a cookie or pastry - think hamantaschen, thumbprint cookies, scones, or danish.
  • Fill a tart - either a traditional one or a DIY pop-tart.
But my favorite way to use up this type of jam is to make fruit leather with it. We made a huge batch of strawberry jam last June that just would not set (probably because we skipped the maceration step altogether due to child-related distraction) so we kept on boiling away and it turned into a dark, thick strawberry jam that none of us wanted to eat on our toast.

But last week, we realized we needed more space for this June's batch of strawberry jam (which turned out quite nicely) so we took all the jars out of the pantry and spread that dark, thick jam out on a couple of Silpats and put them in the food dehydrator. The result was the most delicious strawberry fruit leathers we've ever made!

Strawberry jam fruit leathers by Eve Fox, the Garden of Eating, copyright 2016
Got any ideas to share? Use the comments field to share your jam genius.

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