Mastering cold pack preserving with Marisa from Food in Jars
Long a fan of rhubarb, I try to preserve it every way I can. We make rhubarb jam, chutney, shrubs, barbecue sauce, but never tried preserving pickled rhubarb. Until now. I “quick-pickled” rhubarb slices earlier this spring, following a recipe in Naomi Pomeroy’s Taste & Technique. (By the way, this is a great book for learning how to cook or improving your skills if you’re experienced in the kitchen.)I liked Pomeroy’s flavor combination of coriander, fennel and black pepper laced with bay leaves and lemon peel. However, she used two times the amount of sugar to liquid, and the rhubarb was way too sweet. Maybe that was a typo. In preserving this rhubarb, I used equal amounts of water, vinegar and sugar to better success. Even so, I could probably have cut the sugar in half to preserve the vegetable’s natural tang. The sliced rhubarb became soft but held its shape, especially the pieces that were smaller in diameter. This led me to using the thinnest rhubarb stalks I could find for cold pack preserving, and cutting them to approximately 3” lengths to stand up in a four-ounce canning jar with ½-inch head space. What to do with pickled rhubarb besides serving it with the typical cheese platter? I made a batch of quinoa cakes for a buffet and served them topped with a dab of sour cream and a slice of pickled rhubarb. Heaven!
Pickled Rhubarb (yields 3-4 four-ounce jars)
Thin red rhubarb stalks, trimmed to fit, leaving slightly more than ½-inch head space to the top of the jar
1 tsp each coriander seed, fennel seed and black peppercorns
1 3-inch piece of lemon peel, cut in pieces according to the number of jars
3-4 small bay leaves (one per jar)
1 c water
1 tsp salt
1 c sugar
1 c cider vinegar or white wine vinegar
Prepare the jars and the water bath canner.
Lightly toast the coriander seed, fennel seed and peppercorns. Set aside to cool and lightly crush them.
Pack the rhubarb, spices lemon peel and bay leaves into warm jars, relatively tightly.
Stir the salt and sugar into the water and cook at medium heat until dissolved. Add the vinegar, bringing the liquid just to a boil. Immediately pour over the jarred rhubarb to cover, but leave ½-inch headspace. Insert a chopstick gently between the stalks to release any air bubbles.
Clean the rims, cap the jars and place in a water bath canner. Process for 10 minutes after the water comes to a boil. Remove the lid, turn off the heat and remove to a cool place to rest undisturbed until cool.
Cure for several days before eating.
Quinoa Cakes adapted from Becky Selengut, Good Fish
2/3 c quinoa, rinsed and drained
1 1/3 c water
¼ c minced shallots
1 tsp olive oil
¼ c flour (all-purpose or superfine brown rice or white rice flour)
¼ c tangy feta cheese, crumbled
¼ c finely chopped Italian parsley, or a combination of parsley and chives
1 egg and1 egg yolk (or use 2 eggs)
Freshly ground black pepper or a little red pepper sauce
Vegetable oil for frying
Optional garnish #1: Sour cream or Greek yogurt, smoked trout flakes, chives
Optional garnish #2: Sour cream or Greek yogurt, pickled rhubarb
Cook the quinoa and set it aside to cool. (To cook quinoa, place the rinsed grains, water and a little salt in a saucepan, bring it to a boil, reduce the heat, cover the pot and let cook for 10-15 minutes.)
Cook the shallots in the olive oil until translucent and set them aside to cool.
Combine the quinoa, shallots, flour, feta, herbs and egg and add a little additional salt and the pepper. Form into small cakes (wet your hands if the grains stick) and fry them lightly in the vegetable oil over medium-high heat, until crisp and golden, about 5 minutes, turning them once.
Serve warm or at room temperature, garnishes optional.