When you grow your own fruits and vegetables, it is a special pleasure to preserve that goodness, giving your table a touch of summer sweetness, even when the snow flies.
Some of these recipes are as simple as chopping up a big bunch of fresh basil, drizzling in some olive oil… read on. And savor (and share!) the fruits of your good garden labor.
Susan’s Seaside Dilly Beans
- 6 cups water
- 1 cup Sea Salt
- 6 cups white wine vinegar
- 8 dill flowerheads
- ½ cup pickling spice
- ½ cup mustard seed
- 16 whole cloves of garlic, peeled
- Wash and trim the ends off the fresh green beans. Discard any beans that are soft or spotted. Sterilize eight jars following the home preserving instructions on the Cape Cod Extension Service’s web site (See box). For the brine, boil the water, add the Sea Salt and the white wine vinegar in a large pot, and bring to a boil.
- While the brine cooks, fill each sterilized jar with one head of washed fresh dill flowerhead, one tablespoon of pickling spice, one tablespoon of mustard seed, and two cloves garlic. The beans should be put into a standing position in the jars.
- With a soup ladle, put the hot brine into jars and follow home preserving instructions.
- Delicious served with seafood, pork, or as a side for sandwiches and salads.
Cape Sweet Pickles
- 6 pounds small zucchini or cucumbers
- 8 cups thinly sliced onions
- ½ cup Sea Salt
- 1 quart white wine vinegar
- 4 ½ cups sugar
- 1 tablespoon turmeric
- 2 tablespoons mustard seed
- 1 ½ tablespoons celery seed
- One bag ice cubes
- Wash and scrub clean zucchini or cucumbers. Leave skins on. Slice into 1/4 inch pieces and put in a large mixing bowl. Add onions, Sea Salt, and place at least two inches of ice cubes on top of vegetables. Put in a cool spot for at least three hours. Keep replenishing ice cubes.
- Make the pickling brine. In a large pot, put the white wine vinegar, the sugar, turmeric, mustard seed, and the celery seed. Bring to a boil (about 10 minutes) then add chilled vegetables and onions without the ice. Bring to a second boil.
- While the brine is cooking, sterilize the new canning jars and follow home preserve canning instructions on the Cape Cod Extension Service’s web site (See box). While this is happening, use a wide mouth funnel and put brine and vegetable mix in each jar, then follow preserving instructions.
- Use oven mitts to remove all jars and place in a cool, but not drafty, spot.
Jo’s Summer Jam
- 4 cups of crushed raspberries
- 6 ½ cups of sugar
- ½ teaspoon butter
- 1 package of fruit pectin
- Crush well-washed and dried fresh raspberries though a food mill to remove a lot of the seeds.
- Combine the berry mixture with the sugar in a six to eight quart sauce pan. Add the butter to reduce foaming. Bring the mixture to a full rolling boil over high heat, stirring frequently.
- Add one package of fruit pectin and continue to boil hard for one minute, stirring constantly. Remove from the heat and skim off foam if necessary.
- Sterilize your jars according to preserving directions. Ladle the jam onto hot jars, leaving 1/4 inch of head space. Apply lids and adjust until fingertip tight. Place in canner with water one to two inches over tops of jars. Boil for 10 minutes.
Judy’s Strawberry Jam
- 2 (16 ounce) containers of strawberries, sliced (this is about 5 cups of sliced berries)
- 1 (6 ounce) container of raspberries
- 2 tablespoons of lemon juice
- 1 apple, peeled and chopped
- 1 cup of sugar
- Bring all ingredients to a full boil over medium-high heat, stirring frequently.
- Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer uncovered for 20 to 25 minutes, stirring occasionally. During this time you can crush the fruit with a potato masher if you would like smaller pieces of fruit. Skim foam off the top when it develops.
- Let cool to room temperature and store in airtight containers in the refrigerator. This jam will keep in the refrigerator for three to four weeks.
Basil Lovers Pesto
- 2 cups fresh basil leaves, washed, stems removed, dried well
- 3 garlic cloves, minced or mushed with the side of a large knife
- ½ cup Parmesan cheese (fresh grated is best!)
- 1/2 cup olive oil (extra virgin)
- 1/3 cup pine nuts or chopped walnuts
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
- Put a few handfuls of the basil in with the pine nuts or walnuts and pulse a few times in a food processor. Add the garlic, pulse a few times more.
- Pour in the olive oil slowly, a few tablespoons at a time. Stop to scrape down the sides of the food processor with a rubber spatula. Add the grated cheese (unless you are going to freeze the pesto) and pulse again until blended. Add salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste. Do this in batches—it’s a messy job, but worth it!
- To put in ice cup trays for freezing in small portions, spoon the pesto into a sandwich plastic baggy. Cut a corner out of the bag, and squeeze a good amount into each cube. Covering each cube with a little more olive oil helps keep the cubes green, (reducing oxidation) but the pesto will still taste like summer, even if it’s not that beautiful green!
Fresh February Tomatoes
- 2-3 pounds fresh tomatoes
- Five cups water
- Ice cubes
- Wash the tomatoes well. Boil half the water in a sauce pan. Put the rest of the water in a steel bowl with ice cubes.
- When the water is really boiling, drop in several of the tomatoes and boil until each one’s skin splits. Take out with a fork and plunge into the ice water. A minute or so later, peel off all the skin.
- If you wish, you can cut the tomato in half and scoop out all the seeds with your finger or a small spoon.
- Freeze the tomatoes in a plastic container. Great mixed with chopped basil, fresh parsley and olive oil for bruschetta, or as a simple, summer sweet addition to tomato sauces, soups, etc.
Long days on the beach in the hot sun. Endless hours cruising on the ocean.
People don’t picnic like they used to. I mean, take James Beard. There was a man who knew how to pack a hamper: “It’s an easy matter to gather up a few provisions at a roadside stand or at a shop in any little town you pass through,” he writes in his essay, The Art of Picnicking. “Several of my most fanciful picnics have come straight from a delicatessen, and I recall the folly of one occasion when I bought a half pound of caviar, lemons, black bread—lacking toast—and butter. Two friends and I ate this with a bottle of chilled vodka and finished off the meal with cheese, more bread, and wine.”
The other day, inspired by Mr. Beard, I packed a basket and did it up right. It was one of those bluebird days—clear skies, soft breeze, warm and steady blowing in from the southeast. I went to the basement and dug out our picnic basket—a gift from my mother and father for Christmas one year. It has wicker sides, and a stiff wooden top, and a red-checked cloth liner keeps the sand from blowing in.
Then I set about making lunch. There was lobster in the fridge—already cooked, in the shell, leftover from dinner with my husband’s family the night before. I got out the rolling pin, thwacked the claws and the tail, and fished the big, pink chunks of meat out. Then I rolled the claws, cracked open the tails, threw it all on the countertop, and chopped it up.
It was only 9 a.m., but already the kitchen was getting hot. I rolled up my sleeves, threw the meat in a bowl, and started mincing celery and red onion, and cut a lemon in half. In a few minutes I had the salad together: just mayo and a bit of salt and pepper to top things off.
What else did a Beard-worthy picnic need? Rustic bread, sliced thick. A jar of pickles—homemade, dilly spears, never heated, crisp from the fridge. A bottle of Pellegrino; a salad of basil, bread chunks, mozzarella, and heirloom tomato. And finally, leftover blueberry pie, gooey and thick.
I packed cutlery—real stainless—along with cloth napkins and tin plates. I put on my bathing suit and a faded yellow sundress, then grabbed a towel and my book. Finally, I strapped the picnic basket to the back of my bike, climbed aboard, and rode out of town, along the bluff, to the beach.
It was a picnic, I like to think, that would have done Beard proud.
For a top-notch picnic, there is really nothing more elegant and simple than lobster salad. This recipe makes a very traditional batch—nothing fancy, but excellent in its simplicity. If you don’t feel like cooking and picking your own lobster meat, keep in mind that you can buy it cooked and shucked at most local fish markets.
2 pounds fresh cooked lobster meat, shucked and chopped
1/4 cup minced red onion
1/2 cup finely chopped celery
1/4 cup mayonnaise
juice of 1 lemon
salt and pepper to taste
Put the lobster meat, red onions, and celery in a medium-size mixing bowl. Whisk together the mayonnaise and lemon juice in a measuring cup and spoon this mixture into the bowl. Stir well, until everything is evenly coated with the dressing, and season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve chilled or at room temperature—preferably with a crusty, rustic slice of bread.