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Marinated Peppers - (Makes 2 pounds)



1/3 cup sugar

2 teaspoons kosher salt

1/3 cup white vinegar

1/3 cup olive oil, plus more for finishing

1 1/2 cups water

2 lbs. bell peppers



1.  Pour the sugar, salt, vinegar, oil, and water into a large saucepan, and bring it to a boil over high heat.


2.  While the mixture is heating, core and seed the peppers, and slice them into eighths.  When the brine is boiling, add the sliced peppers (in batches, if needed), reduce the heat until it's just high enough to maintain a simmer, and simmer for 2 to 3 minutes.  The peppers should soften and cook a bit, but you want to stop before they become totally limp and cooked through. Remove the pan from the heat, and cool in the brine.


3.  The peppers are ready to use as soon as they're cooled.  To store in the refrigerator for up to 1 month,, add enough oil to cover the peppers.  Bring to room temperature before serving.



Pickled Green Tomatoes - (Makes 1 gallon)



5 garlic cloves, peeled

A few heads of flowering dill

1 or 2 dried red chiles

4 to 5 lbs. green tomatoes, washed

1/4 cup sugar

1/4 cup kosher salt

1/2 cup white vinegar



1.  Wash a gallon-sized canning jar and lid, and sterilize it in boiling water.  Add the garlic, dill, and dried chiles, then add the tomatoes, (they'll shrink in the hot liquid so pack them in).


2.  Bring about 1/2 gallon of water to a boil.  While it's heating, set a strainer over a large pot.  Pour the boiling water over the tomatoes to the top of the jar, and let sit for 5 minutes.  Pour the water out through the strainer into the pot.  Take any chiles, garlic, or dill that have fallen out, and tuck them back in the jar.


3.  Place the pot of water on the stove, and bring the liquid back to a boil.  While it's heating, add the sugar, salt, and vinegar to the jar with the tomatoes.


4.  When the water comes to a boil, pour it into the jar, coming as close to the top as your can without spilling over.  Tightly screw on the lid.  Lay out a clean dish towel on a dry surface, and invert the jar onto the towel.  Leave the jar inverted overnight.


4.  In the morning, check to make sure that the towel i still dry (a damp towel can indicate an unsealed jar).  If the jar isn't sealed, repeat the process.  If it is, bring the jar to your cellar or another cool, dark place, and store for at least 45 days before using.  Use within 1 year for best quality.



Uzbek Watermelon - (Makes 3 pounds)



1 quart water

1/4 cup kosher salt

1/4 cup sugar

1 tablespoon white vinegar

1 teaspoon chili paste

1 bay leaf

1 teaspoon whole black peppercorns

3 garlic cloves, peeled

4 sprigs dill

2 sprigs mint

2 sprigs basil

2 chiles de arbol

1 small watermelon (3 lb.), sliced into 1-inch rounds, ends discarded



1.  Bring the water to boil, add the salt and sugar, and stir to dissolve.  Turn off the heat, and stir in the vinegar and chile paste.


2.  Place the bay leaf, peppercorns, garlic, fresh herbs, and chile de arbol at the bottom of a very large non-reactive container or crock.  Lay the sliced watermelon on top, then pour the hot brine over everything.  If the melon bobs to the surface, you can weigh it down with a plate to keep it submerged.  Let sit, covered, at room temperature for 24 hours, then place in the refrigerator.


3.  Let cure until the watermelon becomes darker, flavorful, and softens throughout, about 3 to 4 days.  Slice into wedges and serve.  Store any uneaten melon in the brine.



Sauerkraut - (Makes 1 quart)



2 1/2 lbs. cabbage, after coring (about 1 good-sized head)

1 carrot

2 tablespoons kosher salt

1 teaspoon caraway seeds



1.  Peel any dark or damaged leaves off the cabbage, and quarter and core it.  Slice it into fine shreds, and place them in a large non-reactive container.  Peel and grate the carrot on the large holes of a box grater, and mix it with the cabbage.  Add the salt and caraway seeds and mix everything together with your hands, squeezing it as you go to work out some of the liquid.


2.  After you've worked in the salt, find a plate or lid that fits inside your container.  Place it over the cabbage, and add a good amount of weight (about 10 lbs.) to press things down.  Make the weight is clean and food safe (it will come in contact with the brine).  Cover with a cheesecloth, and leave out over night.


3.  The next day, enough liquid should have come out to cover all of the cabbage.  Remove the plate, and give the mixture a stir, making sure to scoop all the way to the bottom.  Secure the cheesecloth over the container, and let the mixture ferment at room temperature for a few days.  As it ferments, give it a good stir a few times each day - this both keeps the top of the sauerkraut from drying out and releases gasses as the whole thing ferments.  Dry sauerkraut can easily be contaminated.


4.  Start tasting the kraut after 2 days of stirring.  It is ready when it is juicy, translucent, and tangy without any hints of bitterness.  Bitterness is a sign that the sauerkraut is not done fermenting, so let it sit for 1 to 2 days more.  The exact timing will vary depending  upon temperature, but in general it shouldn't go more than 4 days.


5.  When the sauerkraut has fermented enough, cover the container and transfer it to the refrigerator.  It will keep for up to 1 month.



Half-Salted Cucumbers - (Makes 5 quarts)



5 lbs. pickling or Persian cucumbers

A few fresh heads flowering dill

3 garlic cloves, peeled

2 quarts water

1/4 cup kosher salt

2 tablespoons sugar



1.  Wash the cucumbers, and trim a sliver off each end.  Place the cucumbers, dill and garlic in a sterile, heat-proof, non-reactive jar.


2.  Bring the water, salt, and sugar to a boil, then pour the mixture over the cucumbers.  Let it cool to room temperature and allow it to sit out overnight.  Then cover with cheesecloth (or a clean dish towel) and refrigerate.


3.  Taste after a couple of says - when you cut the cucumbers open, they should no longer be opaque, and should still taste reminiscent of a fresh cucumber with a pleasant brininess.  Eat within 1 month for best flavor.



Pickled Beets - (Makes 1 pint)



1 cup water

1/2 cup red wine

1/2 cup apple cider vinegar

1 tablespoon kosher salt

1 teaspoon sugar

8 black peppercorns

4 juniper berries

2 allspice


2 beets, cleaned, peeled, and quartered



1.  Place all of the ingredients in a small saucepan.  If the beets are not completely submerged cut them smaller so they are covered by the pickling liquid.  Bring the mixture to a boil, then reduce the heat until it's just high enough to maintain a simmer.  Continue to simmer until the beets are cooked through, about 40 minutes.


2.  Let the beets cool to room temperature in the pickling liquid - by the time they're cooled, they're infused enough to use.  Store in the brine until using.

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