My food-preservation skills have definitely increased since I first tackled marmalade in January with only the vague suspicion that marmalade had something to do with citrus. Similarly, I wasn’t sure what cold pack preserving was, but I knew it had something to do with preserving food that was… umm… cold? Yes, definitely cold.
I was actually surprised when I learned that cold pack preserving was packing raw fruits or vegetables into jars that would then be processed in a water bath canner. I think I did this with some surplus carrots once, and I know that I had already done the skill for the quick pickles challenge (sans the dip in the water-bath canner). I felt a little deflated, especially as most of the cold-pack recipes didn’t seem to be using any produce that was seasonally ready. More deflation! I wanted to buy buckets of produce from the farmer’s market to preserve, not from the local grocery store.
Still, I became more enchanted with cold-pack preserving as May simultaneously has raced and dragged on, mostly because I borrowed the Pickled Pantry from the library. My husband is likely very tired of me reading aloud recipe titles with commentary like, “oh, this sounds good!” for the gazillionth time. For someone who claimed to not much care for pickles, I have become quickly enamored of them since our quick pickle challenge as this is the third pickle recipe I have made since then (my second was pickled strawberries). I exclaimed to my husband with ardent rapture, “We can eat locally year round!” He eyed me warily and offered something non-committal that bordered on heretical. As much as I joke about his dismissive tone, he really does support my time in the kitchen acquiring these skills and stocking our pantry with mason jars; he just also wants to buy a fresh red bell pepper in December and seemed alarmed at my suggestion that we eat more pickled foods throughout the year. Ah, the zeal of the newly converted.
At any rate, I settled on making lemon cukes for the cold-pack challenge because the pickles sound refreshing, zesty, and bright. The jars packed with raw vegetables and topped with lemon (I also placed a full slice in the bottom of the jar) were a visual delight. I opted to make spears instead of slices since the kiddo prefers spears. Unlike the quick pickles, I’ll have to wear my patient pants for the six weeks to allow the flavors to cure, but I’m sure I can make us a batch of quick pickles to get us through til then.
Although this month’s skill was cold-pack preserving, I did sneak in another canning adventure as I was making the lemon cukes: chutney! We had half a pound of rhubarb leftover from some a strawberry-rhubarb crisp I had made, and I wanted to use or preserve it in something rather than have it end up buried in our compost pile. My husband was not enthused about pickled rhubarb, which I had suggested for the challenge in lieu of the lemon cukes. So, instead, I sold him on sweet-tart rhubarb chutney (also from the Pickled Pantry), which necessitated buying more rhubarb. As is too often the case in life, we buy more to end up wasting less. Still, the chutney was complex and delightful. Our foster kiddo tasted it and thought reflectively for a moment for declaring that it was really good. Really weird, but really good. I’ll take that teenager approval. I can’t wait to spread this chutney on a sandwich with some homemade cheese!