Fennel, orange & olive pickles are delicious. Plus, they’re an easy way to enjoy pickles without “full fledged” canning. Cathy Barrow is the person who introduced me to these delectable morsels and I am forever in her debt.
I met Cathy about two years ago, introduced by a mutual friend. She had just finished shepherding Charcutepalooza, a year-long project to bring the art of curing into the homes of anyone who wanted to join. Cathy is delightful, with an infectious laugh and a warm smile. Even though I wasn’t into DIY bacon and paté, I was impressed by her project and her enthusiasm for home preserving.
Our meeting led me to Cathy’s blog, Mrs. Wheelbarrow’s Kitchen, and I read her canning recipes with a “nice, but no-way-can/will/should-I-do-that” attitude. Then the Derecho and my son both came to town at the same time. With the impending storm causing me to look for distractions, a partner-in-crime, and Cathy’s confidence-building instructions, I learned to “water bath” can!
I had no special canning equipment, so I used pots on hand, dishtowels to cushion the jars while they sat in the boiling water, and tongs with elastic bands wrapped around the necks of the jars instead of the fancy lifters I’ve seen at stores. I’m not advocating this helter-skelter approach, just pointing out that the process may seem more intimidating in the abstract than it needs to be with an experienced guide and a bit of ingenuity. The result was amazing strawberry jam!
Now I’ve got Cathy’s new book on all types of preserving and it’s a treasure.
The publisher provided me with a copy of Mrs. Wheelbarrow’s Practical Pantry and will give away a copy to one of my readers. For details on the giveaway, see the bottom of this post. All views expressed are my own.
Mrs. Wheelbarrow’s Practical Pantry has chapters on water-bath canning, canning under pressure, preserving meat and fish, and cheese-making. With tips, recipes and gorgeous photographs, Cathy takes the reader through each type of preserving, or you can simply ready the introduction and head right to the type of preserving you want to learn. She’ll even help you troubleshoot fruit preserving issues and help you decide whether or not to use pectin.
In short, Mrs. Wheelbarrow’s Practical Pantry is an invaluable resource for preserving newbies, , experts who want a great recipe using a particular preserving technique, and everyone in-between.
Don’t skip the introduction. Besides providing a refreshingly honest overview, without lecturing, Cathy explains how to stay safe. “I want you to be a confident home food preserver, but one who carries around a healthy dose of fear. It will make you careful. …Respect the recipes. They are the science ensuring that the food you make, and the people who eat it, will not suffer.” She lists foods that must be pressure canned and foods should never be canned, along with tips on how long you can keep canned food once you open the jar. A woman after my own heart.
I tried the Fennel, Orange, & Olive Pickles and was truly impressed. (I chose that one because I’ve always loved fennel and I have a recipe for olives and orange rind that is a family favorite.) The ingredients are not cheap (they cost me about $12.50), but the result is remarkable. I’m planning to serve my pickles at Thanksgiving dinner as a festive appetizer.
Fennel, Orange, and Olive Refrigerator Pickles
Makes: one 24-ounce jar Active Time: 20 minutes Standing Time: 2 days
- 2 medium fennel bulbs (24 oz., 680g)
- 1 navel orange
- 1 ½ cups (12 oz., 340 g) Cerignola olives, rinsed
- 1 cup (8 oz., 235 ml) champagne vinegar
- 1 tablespoon (0.125 oz., 8 g) kosher or pickling salt
- 2 tablespoons sugar
- 1 tablespoon chopped fresh tarragon
- 1 cup ice cubes
- Trim the stalks from the fennel and peel away the tough outer sections of the bulb. (Put these parts in a bag in the freezer to make vegetable broth or add to a batch of chicken stock.) Remove about ½ inch of the root of each fennel bulb, then slice vertically down the center. Set the fennel cut side down on the cutting board and slice wedges from the bulbs.
- Wash the orange well. Slice into slim ¼-inch rounds, rind and all. Remove any seeds. Cut the slices into half-moons. Press the oranges against the inside of the jar, then fit the fennel wedges into the center of the jar, adding a few olives here and there as you go.
- In a small saucepan, warm the vinegar, salt, sugar, and tarragon, stirring just until the salt and sugar have dissolved. Add the ice cubes and stir until cool.
- Pour the cooled brine into the jar. Cover and place in a cool, dark spot for 2 days.
- Chill the pickles before serving. They will keep for up to a month in the refrigerator.
Notes: A wide-mouth jar will make this job a little easier. So will long tweezers or a chopstick if you want to get fancy.
Reprinted from Mrs. Wheelbarrow’s Practical Pantry: Recipes and Techniques for Year-Round Preserving by Cathy Barrow. Copyright © 2014 by Cathy Barrow. With permission of the publisher, W. W. Norton & Company, Inc. All rights reserved.
Spoiler alert for my family and friends – I’m going to make Cathy’s recipe for rugelach and seriously considering stuffing at least one batch with her bacon-onion jam with salted roasted peanuts made with homemade maple-bourbon bacon. What do you think of that? And I’m not the least bit intimidated at the prospect of curing a pork belly with Mrs. Wheelbarrow by my side!