Last week I got some red cabbage in my CSA share. I’m not a huge fan of cabbage. I guess it has to do with my Polish roots. For most of my life, the only cabbage I knew was boiled or steamed until it was a mushy texture with no flavor left. Now I’m not knocking Polish food. Feed me some pierogies, kielbasa and potato pancakes any day and I’m a happy camper. But some foods the flavor just gets cooked out of like veggies and cabbage. So when I received my cabbage, I wasn’t really sure what to do with it. My new motto has been, “when in doubt, pickle!”. Seems to work pretty good for cabbage too.
If you’ve ever participated in a CSA, I’m sure you’ve used the word “struggle” to identify the program at least once or twice. This is my second time participating in a CSA. My first one was the Yellow Hook CSA in Bay Ridge. A 5 minute walk from my apartment, the location was perfect! I was so excited by the bounty of fruits and veggies I was promised. Little did I realize that “veggies” really equated leafy greens. Now don’t get me wrong, I love a good bunch of kale or bok choy, but getting 3-4 varieties of greens every week was too much for a family of two to handle. Pickups were on Thursdays and we often went away on weekends (or at least cooked less), so we’d struggle on Thursday and Friday night to consume as may green as possible only to end up having the rest wilt and end up in the trash or compost pile. I took the 2011 season off, but when a coworker suggested the Tribeca CSA, down the street from my office, I felt I was ready to take on the challenge again.
I’ve pickled a few things by now–dilly beans, radishes, made salsas–but until now I have yet to have made actual pickles. I’ve always been a bit anxious of the process. The whole fermentation thing and how long they can take is a bit daunting. But this year I was ready.
So remember the other week when I told you I found beautiful radishes for just a $1 a bunch? Then that week I got another bunch from my Tribeca CSA pickup. Needless to say, I had a lot of radishes. What to do? Pickle them!
I’ve never made pickled radishes before, but they were pretty tasty. Come to think of it, pretty much anything pickled ranks pretty high in my book. Except pickled eggs. There’s something very discomforting to me about pickled eggs. I just can’t bring myself to try them. Anyway, radishes. You already have a nice spicy, peppery flavor from the radishes themselves. Then add vinegar, spices and you’re pretty much good to go. The one thing that made me laugh is how RED the brine will turn. If you don’t label them fast and you’re an avid pickler, you might easily mistake them for pickled beets.
Pickled Radishes (makes about 2 pints)
- 2 lbs radishes (about 2 bunches), tops and roots removed, scrubbed and cut into 1/8 in rounds
- 1/4 c plus 1/4 tsp pure kosher salt
- 1 1/2 c 5% white vinegar
- 1 tbsp salt
- 1 tsp black peppercorns
- 1 tsp fennel seeds
- 1 tsp mustard seeds
Combine 1/4 c salt with 2 1/2 c water. Stir to dissolve (warm water helps). Put radish rounds into a bowl and pour salt water over. Refrigerate for 8 hours or overnight. Drain and rinse.
In a large 6-8 quart pot, combine vinegar, sugar, 1/4 tsp salt and spices. Bring to a boil, stirring to dissolve salt and sugar. Add radishes and return to a boil. Remove from heat. Pack hot canning jars loosely with radishes and brine. Leave 1/2 in headspace. Process jars in water bath for 10 minutes. Remove from water bath and leave jars undisturbed for at least 12 hours. Check if jars are sealed. Label sealed jars and store.
So I might have gone a little crazy last week. One of the items I got from my Tribeca CSA share was half a pound of string beans. A decent sized portion for a dinner side, BUT I split my share with a coworker, so I only get HALF. a quarter pound of beans, minus the few I might have eaten on the way home, doesn’t amount to much.
I happened to be at the Borough Hall Greenmarket on Thursday, where they were selling gorgeous beans for only $2.50 a pound. I bought a bit to supplement my CSA share. Well, maybe a I bought a lot.