In a Pickle

For most of my life, when I tell people I’m “in a pickle”, I’m alerting them to a pear-shaped moment, where things have gone topsy-turvy and my energies are going into averting disaster. Last Friday, being in a pickle took on a completely different meaning. Tim and Tracy, ably assisted by the WWOOFing cohort, were making preserves, and I was absolutely in.

What CSA farmers put in their shares is dependent on several variables, things like food availability and customer interest. I discovered that the farmers in the Kingston area communicate these things to each other in order to improve everyone’s experience. The farmers encourage their customers to do some research to ensure that their experience is tailored to their needs. For instance, my Front Door Organics share was great because I could order nearly any grocery item I needed and it would be delivered to my door. That last part was the key for me in Mississauga.

However, Front Door Organics is a distributor, not a farmer. I wasn’t looking in the eye the person who grew my food, which matters to me. With Evan at the Kitchen Garden—whom I discovered even before I met Tim—I do get to look him in the eye. We have a very satisfying relationship because, if necessary, I could call him on bad quality. Happily, the vegetables Evan supplies me with every month are terrific in quantity, appearance and flavour: our conversations are all enthusiastic affection. I want to hug Evan for feeding me so well this winter. Still, I want to immerse myself completely into the Kingston CSA culture right now, so I’m excited to be taking home share items from Tim’s Main Street Market. Apparently, it’s not uncommon in Kingston for customers to order multiple shares, from more than one farmer.

The neat part of Tim’s Main Street Market shares is that, in addition to offering raw ingredients every month, he offers handmade items—like freshly baked loaves of bread—in the winter shares, adding interest and imagination to the monthly box. The preserves we made last week were intended for the shares, an addition that demonstrates imagination. I’ve been at Tim’s as clients came to collect their shares. One client actually pulled a bag of Jerusalem artichokes out of their share and handed them back to Tim that day, saying they couldn’t seem to prepare them in a satisfying enough manner. I secretly believe this is Tim’s way of managing that problem. Don’t know what to do with that leftover daikon? Why not try Vietnamese Carrot and Daikon Pickle!

The carrots and daikon were both harvested from Main Street Market’s urban garden this fall. In case you don’t know, daikon is known by several names, including white radishes, mooli, Oriental radish, Japanese radish, Chinese radish, Korean radish, and lo bok. The word daikon literally means “large root”.

harvestedDaikon

Over the years, I’ve tried my hand at the traditional sweet cucumber and dill pickle recipes, to the delight of family and friends. When I told my daughter about the upcoming challenge, her immediate comment was, “oooOOOOooh! That sounds good!” Because she shares my locavore appetite, she was as excited as I was at the idea of including daikon, a new vegetable for both of us.

When I arrived, Tim and Tracy had the carrots and daikon out, ready for prep. As we chopped, a heady radish-y fragrance filled the room.

JuliennedCarrots JuliennedDaikon

Once we had them julienned, Tim got the pickling jars and lids sterilized. To accommodate the number of shares, as well as to assure enough for the Lyon family and the two WWOOFers, we tripled the recipe. (This actually made tonnes more than anticipated!)

While we WWOOFers julienned, Tim and Tracy cooked up the water, vinegar, sugar and ginger root. The radish aroma was replaced with one of ginger.

Pot

As the magic moment approached, everyone went into jar-stuffing mode. Along the side of each glass jar, nestled into the carrot and daikon, we placed a single flavouring ingredient. Now, the kitchen filled with the smell of the mystery ingredients. Tim decided to make four varieties of pickles—anise, hot chili, lemongrass and a combination of turmeric and clove (the variety that Tim calls “the wackiest”) The kitchen filled with the scent of my inner child, licorice!

FillingJars

With the liquid covering the vegetables and the lids on, we’re treated to the satisfying sound of popping, sealing lids.

Vietnamese Carrot and Daikon Pickle Recipe
2 lbs carrots    2 lbs daikon
3 cups white vinegar    3 cups water
1½ cups granulated sugar    2 tsp ginger root
4½ tsp Bernardin Pickle Crisp, optional flavouring (anise, hot chilis, lemongrass, turmeric-clove)

1. Sterilize six-500 ml pickling jars, with lids.

2. Julienne the carrots and daikon.

3. In a large, deep, stainless steel saucepan, combine the vinegar, water, sugar and ginger root. Bring to a boil.

4. Meanwhile, arrange the carrot and daikon sticks in the sterilized jars so that the top ¼‘‘ of each jar is clear. Insert a single secret ingredient on the side of each jar. This remarkable ingredient gives the pickle a wonderful, licorice flavour, as well as adding an attractive element to the presentation.

5. Add ¾ tsp of Pickle Crisp to each jar, if using.

6. Cover vegetables with the hot liquid, up to ½” off the rim. Seal and boiled the filled jars for ten minutes.

7. Store your finished product for three weeks. Uncap and congratulate yourself on another satisfying field-to-fork moment.

Tim handed me three jars for my labours—one with anise flavouring, one with lemongrass, and a third with turmeric-clove. Now, the only pickle is deciding which to uncap first when my three weeks waiting period is up!

CompletedJars