1 Simple Recipe for Preserving Your Entire Garden
There is no better way to entertain like a professional than by making a simply antipasto platter that has come straight from your garden. I am often asked how best to preserve an abundance of garden fruit at the end of the season when you just cannot bear to eat anymore zucchini!
Pickling vegies in Italy is a way to preserve all the excess vegies from our gardens and for me is the easiest. You should always use vegies that are in season and at their best. I have created the following recipe that can be easily used for anything from your garden and in Italian, we call it ‘Giadinera’ – a mix of all different kinds of vegies. You can easily vary the vegies according to the season, or you might decide that you just want one kind of vegie because that is your favourite. The rule here is that there is no rules. And that is what makes pickling both fun and rewarding.
The process is very simple.
- Blanch your vegies, and let them dry
- Put them in jars and cover in either oil or vinegar
- Vacuum seal them
To blanch the vegies, you need to cook them for about 3 minutes or until they are cooked but still crunchy or ‘al dente’. I have given you a recipe for a simply blanching liquid that suits pretty much everything. Remember that different vegies take more or less time to cook, so it is a good idea that after 2 minutes you taste and see if they are ready. Remember that you will cook the jar later to steralise it so it is best to have them more on the crunchy side than the soft side to reduce risk of soggy vegetables once out of the jar. Once they are blanched, lay them onto a rack to drain and let them dry for a couple of hours or even overnight.
Make sure you Steralise jars and lids by first washing in the dishwasher or hot soapy water and rinsing well. Place jars and lids on an oven tray and heat in a hot oven for 10 minutes. Then fill your jars with your blanched vegetables and you can decide to either top them up with olive oil, vegetable oil (or a mix of both) or top them with the ‘vinegar preserving liquid’ for something with a little more bite. When using oil, I prefer to use a mix of Extra virgin olive oil and vegetable oil, as straight olive oil can become too heavy and tends to ‘cook’ the vegies over time. Use your preferred liquid and then use a skewer to move the vegies a little to make sure there are no air bubbles trapped in between. Put the lid on and then you are ready for steralisation.
Your jars can be kept in the fridge for about 2 weeks, but to preserve them for longer, cook them in a water bath and leave to cool overnight in the water. To do this you need to get a saucepan big enough to hold all jars. (otherwise cook them in batches) Put a cake rack or a folded newspaper on the bottom of the pot to stop them from rattling and breaking. Pack them tight also to stop them from breaking and pack the pot with extra newspaper to stop the jars from rattling. Alternatively you could roll each one in some paper so that ‘glass doesn’t hit glass’. Fill the pot with water so that it comes above the lids by 1cm. Bring the pot to the boil and count 20 minutes. Turn the pot off and leave the jars to cool in the water overnight. The lids should “pop”. That means they will suck in and create a vacuum. If you find a jar that doesn’t suck in, put it in the fridge and use it first. The other jars can stay in your pantry for up to 8 months. After that they will begin to ‘cook’ and soften. They are still fine to eat but may lose some crispiness.
This recipe is for mixed vegetables, but you could also use this recipe for just single vegies, like just beans, or mushrooms, or asparagus; instead of doing a mix. You might like to do just a jar of carrots but use all different coloured carrots… or different colours of asparagus. You can also vary the herbs. You might like to add thyme, lemon rind, garlic, chilli ect to your jars as you fill them with oil or vinegar. Feel free to experiment.
Vegetables suitable for either single or mixed jars: cauliflower, carrots, zucchini, capsicum, eggplant, small pickling onions, beans, celery, mushrooms, chillis, radishes, turnips, broccoli, beetroot, asparagus, artichokes, gherkins
NOTE: Artichokes and mushrooms are best topped with oil if you are doing them on their own
GIARDINIERA IN AGRODOLCE
Agrodolce blanching liquid
White wine 1 litre
sugar 250 g
Salt 50 g
Black pepper 2 g
Bay leaf 10 g
Orange rind 20 g
Mixed capsicums 3
Agrodolce preserving vinegar liquid
White wine 200 ml
Vinegar 800 ml
Salt 20 g
Sugar 100 g
Blanch the vegetables and drain them
Add to clean and steralised jars (see below)
Bring to the boil the ingredients for the agrodolce preserving liquid.
Cover the vegetables with the hot vinegar, making sure that all the vegies are submerged in the liquid. Close the jars and steralise