Here it is: the middle of August. School has started. Life is kicking into busy gear, and, yes, once again, you didn’t make a single pickle, can a single peach or make your grandma’s signature dilly beans.
The fresh produce at Capitol Market is still waiting for you. And easy, quick pickling and freezing recipes will let you check this time-honored summer food tradition off your list.
Not to mention, if you play your cards right, your handiwork can still make you a star at the Labor Day picnic or early tailgate parties.
At The Purple Onion and West Virginia Marketplace, we know pickles are popular. Our Purple Onion pickled beans and okra and Wickles pickles don’t stay on the shelves long. The same is true for West Virginia Marketplace with Uncle Bunk’s pickles, Duck’s marinated tomatoes and Leavitt Farms Chow Chow and bread and butter pickles.
The easiest and fastest way to save the fresh summer produce is by freezing it. Once that’s done, you can pull those veggies out of the freezer and showcase them in great recipes all fall and winter.
Freeze vegetables when they are at peak freshness. Rinse and dry them before starting the freezing process.
Vegetables should be blanched and submerged in ice water. Dry them well and place them on a baking sheet to freeze completely. Once frozen, pack them in air-tight containers or freezer bags. Mark the date of freezing on the package and store no more than 12 to 18 months.
If you’ve frozen corn, make a note to try this corn casserole for Thanksgiving or a family potluck.
Beans, corn and sweet peppers can make great additions to a favorite fall stew or soup recipe. Most vegetables can go directly from the freezer to the pot without any problem.
Quick pickling is another great way to feel great about saving — and savoring — fresh summer produce when the growing season has passed.
First, choose your vegetables. Vegetables that are naturally firm are good choices. Consider cucumbers, zucchini, beans, beets and okra.
Think also about some different ideas: carrots, cauliflower, jalapeño and salsa peppers and corn come to mind.
Clean and prepare vegetables. Place them in clean and sterilized jars. We recommend the pint-sized jars because they are just the right size to take to picnics, open and use at home or give as gifts.
Make a brine: 1 cup distilled white vinegar, 2 tablespoons kosher salt, 2 teaspoons sugar and up to 2 tablespoons of spices (pickling spices, peppercorns, coriander seeds, mustard seeds, dill weed). Mix with 2 cups water in a saucepan and bring to a boil.
Place vegetables to two-thirds full in each jar. Pour hot brine over vegetables in jars. Place rubber gasket and screw on lid on jar and let sit until cool. Refrigerate for up to six months.
If you’re a vinegar fanatic who loves a special touch on salads, try an easy infused vinegar recipe.
Combine 1 pound of hulled and quartered strawberries, 1 pound of fresh raspberries or 1 pound of pitted sour cherries with 1 cup white wine vinegar, ½ cup unseasoned rice vinegar and ¼ cup sugar in a large glass jar. Cover and chill for at least one and up to two days. Strain through a sieve lined with cheesecloth or a coffee filter. Cover and chill. What better dressing for an arugula, berry and goat cheese salad, or spinach, berry and feta.
Sure, you could have processed your summer produce the traditional way, and maybe you will next year, but this year we hope you’ll go for quick, easy and still delicious.
6-8 cups fresh or frozen corn kernels
1 stick unsalted butter, room temperature and cubed
salt to taste
Mash corn kernels in a medium bowl so they exude juices and kernels are mashed but not completely mushy.
Stir in butter and salt to taste.
Spread in an 8-inch square glass baking dish that has been greased.
Bake at 350 degrees for 25 to 30 minutes until corn is bubbly.
Optional: Go over the top with 1 cup of finely grated cheese of your choice — Vermont cheddar, Monterey Jack or gouda.
Along with his wife, Felicia, Allan Hathaway is the co-owner of The Purple Onion and West Virginia Marketplace at the Capitol Market. For more information, visit their web pages, www.capitolmarket.net/merchants/purple-onion and www.capitolmarket.net/merchants/wv-marketplace; call The Purple Onion at 304-342-4414 or WV Marketplace at 304-720-2244. Follow them on Facebook, and email Allan at email@example.com.