It’s sad but true – the summer is coming to an end. While we here at Lettuce are bummed that our remaining beach days are numbered, we’re especially beginning to mourn the loss of the beloved summer produce.
To ward off our end-of-summer ‘scaries,’ we tapped Chef/Partner Mychael Bonner of Petterino’s, Di Pescara, Reel Club, Saranello’s and the Ivy Room Chicago as well as Tru’s Chef Anthony Martin to show us how to hang on to those summer flavors just a little bit longer with tips on how to pickle, preserve and can.
Here are Chef Martin’s pickling tips.
- Don’t be afraid to add fresh or dried hot peppers as this will add depth of flavor and some unexpected heat. I love using fresh jalapenos or dried chile flakes.
- White balsamic vinegar is a great universal acid to use because it has natural sweetness and doesn’t affect the color of the ingredients. Balsamic vinegars, excluding aged, also have a great acidity that lends well to pickling.
- Store your pickled ingredients in air-tight glass jars. Glass can be easily sterilized and allows you to see the jar’s contents as the pickles are usually very visual so. Remember to keep them in a cool, dark place – this will add longevity to the shelf life.
Chef Bonner shows us the ropes of crafting berry preserves at home.
- Berries vary in degree of sweetness: they range from tart to super sweet and you never know what you are going to get. Be sure to really taste the fruit to understand what you are working with.
- Adding black pepper to a recipe gives a nice counter balance to the sweetness of the berry. I recommend adding some type of herbal note or spice to nuance the sweet flavor. Not into pepper? Try cinnamon, coriander or even an herb like rosemary.
- After opening your preserves, refrigerate and use within two weeks of opening.
What is better than tomatoes at their peak in the summer? Here are Chef Bonner’s tricks of the trade when it comes to canning tomatoes:
- For best results, use tomatoes that are very ripe
- When shocking the tomatoes in simmering water be careful not to boil them. Simply submerge them in hot water until the skins start to loosen. This should only take about 15 seconds.
- Add a little lemon juice as this will kill any extra bacteria and ensure that the acidity level is satisfactory.
- Canned tomato sauce is best if used after six months of making. Unopened jars can be stored in a cool, dry place like the pantry. After opening, keep the sauce refrigerated and it will stay good for up to three days.
And how to best showcase your creations?
I am partial to Ball Mason Jars. I grew up in the city where they were made, Muncie, IN, and was even born at Ball Memorial Hospital. Needless to say, it was THE industry in my hometown, making those glass jars that you now see all over the world.