Saturday, December 26, 2009
For three years I've been craving giardiniera. When I moved to Florida, I was shocked and appalled that no one here had ever eaten or heard of this Italian appetizer. In western Pennsylvania, where I grew up, it is sold in quart-sized jars, at minimal prices. If there is one thing you can expect to find in an I.U.P. student's refrigerator, it's a big jar of giardiniera. In the last year, I have begun to see it popping up here in tiny little jars at exorbitant prices, which I refuse to pay. So, upon receiving my new canner, it was a real no-brainer what my first endeavor would be- the hot and sour pickled garden veg of my youth- giardiniera!
Recipe makes 6 pints
6 1-pint canning jars with lids and rings
32 oz. white wine vinegar
32 oz. water
2 tbsp. salt
2 tsp. sugar
1/2 cinnamon stick
2 bay leaves
1 tbsp. mustard seed
1 tbsp. peppercorns
12 cloves garlic
4 carrots, peeled and crinkle cut on the bias
1/2 lb. green beans, trimmed
1 head cauliflower, cut to florets
1 lb. hot wax peppers, seeded and cut into 1 1/2 inch pieces
Bring to a boil vinegar, water and spices. Cover, turn off heat and let it steep while you prepare the jars.
Quickly blanch green beans, carrots, cauliflower and garlic separately in a big pot of very salty water. Layer into each sterilized jar 2 cloves of garlic, small handful of carrots, a few green beans, then stuff jars to 1 inch from brim with cauliflower and peppers. you can push down on the veg a bit to make it all fit.
Strain brine and pour into jars using a funnel.
Cover jars with sterilized lids and rings. I packed the jars directly in the rack so that I could pick it up and sink it right into the canning water. Make sure water covers jars by at least and inch. (It is helpful to have a kettle already hot, in case you need it, and you probably will.) Bring water to a boil for 5 minutes. Pull up the rack and transfer jars individually to a wooden, towel covered surface.
After a couple hours, test the lids to make sure they sealed. If they are, move them to a cool, dark place. If you're lucky, one won't seal and you'll have an excuse to eat it right away. Otherwise, the flavors will mix and meld and get better over the next month, if all six jars last that long. I only have two left!