It is more important than ever to make the most of what you have in the kitchen. While it’s always a good idea to work on reducing food waste, now while we’re staying home and limiting shopping trips, anything we can do to help stretch out the time between visits to the grocery store makes a real difference. Enter: preserves!
With a little investment of time and some simple pantry staples, you can make the goodness of fresh produce last and last. Natural fermentation harnesses the healthy bacteria already in your environment to create a flavorful treat: using a salty brine encourages the growth of Lactobacillus bacteria and is inhospitable to molds and other unpleasant bacteria. The Lactobacillus bacteria convert the vegetable’s natural sugars into lactic acid, a natural preservative of the food’s flavor and nutrients, while the bacteria themselves are highly beneficial to your digestive system. It’s a win-win.
Samples ready for workshop participants.
Last spring, Marin Art & Garden Center’s Garden Manager Steven Schwager led a workshop showing participants how to take the bounty of cool-weather produce from our Edible Garden and make delicious and long-lasting preserves. Steven says, “people often turn to canning when summer gardens go into overdrive and you need to do something with all those cucumbers. But I wanted to show our class that there are fantastic pickles you can make from early spring harvests, like cabbage and carrots and cauliflower.” The class chopped, mixed, stirred and sampled its way through recipes for kim chi, preserved lemons, and one we’re including here for curried cauliflower. So next time you’re stocking up on fresh ingredients, get some extra for a pickling project and future you will be grateful when you’re snacking on a healthy treat you made yourself.
Always keep food safety in mind: consult the USDA’s Guide to Home Canning for a review of good practices.
Steven fills a jar of mixed pickles with brining solution.
Curry Cauliflower Lacto Pickles
1 quart of water
3 Tbsp. sea salt
1 small head of cauliflower cut into small florets (about 3 cups)
2½ Tbsp. curry powder
4 cloves garlic, peeled and smashed
Heat water; add salt and stir to dissolve completely. Cool brine to room temperature and set aside.
Place garlic cloves in the bottom of a quart-size glass jar. Add curry powder, followed by cauliflower florets.
Pour cooled brine over vegetables until completely covered, leaving 1 ½ inches of head space.
If necessary, weigh the florets down under the brine.
Cover the jar with a tight lid, airlock lid, or coffee filter secured with a rubber band.
Culture at room temperature (60-70°F is preferred) until desired flavor and texture are achieved. If using a tight lid, “burp” daily to release excess pressure.
Once the cauliflower is finished, put a tight lid on the jar and move to cold storage. The flavor will continue to develop as the cauliflower ages.
Additional spices, chilis etc. can be added
This works well with kohlrabi as well