I battle constantly between the forager and cook aspects of my personality, loving the fresh, crisp wonder of eating straight out of the garden but also marveling at the alchemy that takes place when transforming an ingredient into something more sophisticated than its humble beginnings. Blackberries off the vine burst with a riot of tartness and a surprisingly sweet finish; blackberry jam is a remembrance of summers past (and promise of those to come) on dreary winter mornings. Sometimes my preference is determined by the day of the week: in our house on Sunday we like to watch a good movie and indulge in finger foods, so when I found a few ripe banana peppers and French breakfast radishes this past weekend my decision was practically made for me.
The radishes were topped before slicing, the greens put in a drinking glass with water to be used later when juicing. Then the banana peppers were halved and mostly seeded before I moved on to a few cloves of minced garlic. It seems that whenever I’m doing the prep work I always have an assistant.
Once the jar was sterilized and filled with the peppers, radishes, garlic I put a pot on to boil with one part white vinegar to one part water, a few tablespoons of coarse sea salt, along with coriander, peppercorns and a bay leaf, as well as a tablespoon of sugar.
After the brine mixture came to a boil I turned it down and let it simmer for about ten minutes.
Then it was just a matter of filling the quart jar with the brine, screwing on the lid, and waiting for it to seal. Once the jar was cooled to the touch I moved it from the counter to the refrigerator, where it will need to sit for about a week so that the flavors can blend.
I’m really looking forward to next month, when the San Marzano tomatoes are ripe and we can make sauce.