During the local growing season we fill a great quantity of Mason jars. In an effort to prolong the local growing season, we pickle, can and preserve a variety of local ingredients; keeping us stocked-up with locally grown produce through New England’s long winter. We make sweet pickles, dill pickles, pickled cauliflower, pickled peppers, pickled onions, pickled garlic, pickled okra, pickled rhubarb, pickled fiddlehead ferns, pickled ramps and pickled scapes. In addition to all of the pickles we make a variety fruit jams, this year we made grape jelly, raspberry jam, strawberry jam and plum jam. We also canned cherries soaked in spiced red wine, and we finish our canning season with many jars of apple butter. Having all of these pickles and preserves available to us allows us to add locally grown sweet, spicy, acidic and interesting flavors to our menu. Making all of the pickles and preserves is no small feat, many man (or woman) hours are used every week to stock up our inventory.
At the end of September when habanero pepper season is in full swing, and carrots, onions, garlic and tomatoes are all still readily available, we make enough hot sauce to last us the entire year; this year we made 15 gallons. We use the hot sauce in our habanero coleslaw, it often finds it’s way into hollandaise, tartar sauce and wherever we need to add some heat.
Our most popular and most utilized Mason jar fodder is jalapenos. We fill more than 200 quart sized Mason jars with our sweet – spicy pickled jalapenos. During the local growing season, which runs from July through first frost, Kimball Fruit Farm in Pepperell, MA, supplies us with a bushel or two each week. Fredy, our prep cook extraordinaire slices the peppers, rinses them with cold water to remove excess seeds; which contributes to the spicy heat, and then he prepares the brine. He sterilizes the jars, fills them with the rinsed peppers and hot brine and finally he processes them in a hot water bath. We set them up in hopes that we have produced enough for the full year, until we can make more. I don’t want to run out of these peppers they are too popular. At every family or friend gathering I get hounded for these peppers. I make sure a bring several jars with me to keep everyone from twitching. I get it, I personally go through three to four Mason Jar quarts a year. They are really that good.
At EVOO we always have our pickled jalapenos on our lunch menu, served on our chicken sausage sandwich. At Za our sister we use them as a pizza topping and in as an ingredient in our avocado salad. Any recipe that I write that calls for jalapenos we use our home made pickles. Just like any of the other pickles you find on our menu they are all made in house, with recipes that we have spent a long time perfecting. We never use store bought pickles.