I’ve talked about Labor Day weekend in the past, but let me rehash it here again. When I was a child, Labor Day was harvest weekend around my house. My grandfather had this massive plot of land that he, and others, farmed (dare I say) commune-style. He grew everything: massive braids of garlic, root vegetables, tomatoes, eggplant, peppers… After 25+ years at Carrier Corporation, he retired to farm the fields behind his house. For years, I thought my grandfather was a farmer by occupation.
Labor Day weekend meant smells and not all of them were pleasant. In the garage, my mother and grandmother would crush tomatoes through a massive contraption that separated its fruit, seeds and juice. In the driveway would be my father, roasting an endless supply of bell peppers over a flame. Neither of these smells were particularly inviting.
Once the tomatoes were done and the peppers scorched, the fun would move inside. Brines would be concocted on the stovetop for the heads of eggplant that had just been peeled and julienned. The bell peppers that did not meet the grates of the grill were chopped and washed. Both veggies would be piled into jars, along with the tomatoes (the peppers would go in little baggies and be frozen, along with blanched escarole).
And then the water would come to a boil. For hours, my mother, grandmother and father would seal Mason jars and boil them so that they could stand up on the basement shelf for the next year (Some of those tomatoes would make their way to a stock pot to become marinara sauce, which would then lead to the next phase of Labor Day weekend…pasta making.).
I love the idea of pickling, canning and this sort of thing. I don’t like the idea of spending time doing it, burning my hands or inadvertently giving The Wife and I botulism because I did something incorrectly.
My idea of pickling is something that can remain stable in a refrigerator after sitting for a week or two. I’ve done garlic and sweet dill pickles successfully in the past, but decided to branch out this year. Since it is the first week of September and the best of the summer produce is out right now, I’m going to post my recipes for those of us that are too lazy to spend a Saturday afternoon boiling Mason jars.