Here it is fall, a season of harvest when good spirits abound. A busy time
marked by festivals all across Indian country and beyond, celebrating
pumpkin, cranberries, chowders, beans, apples and everything in between.
Many of us still cling to the old ways of preserving food. I found this out
the other day when I went to purchase canning jars and a new metal rack to
fit inside my canner. Fresh faces looked at me like I was from Mars in the
hardware store. They had the jars but not the metal rack. One of the women
working there said that putting a bath towel in the bottom of the canner
and aluminum foil "snakes" between the jars works just as well as the metal
rack. It did.
I have not canned for a few years, I like to freeze or dry fruits and
vegetables these days. However, I had a "hot" new recipe to try which could
only be preserved in glass jars. A couple of weeks ago I attended a tribal
reunion in a beautiful place on Lake Champlain. There was tons of food. All
kinds of salads, breads, turkey, etc. and some of the best pickled
vegetables I have ever had. I'll grant you, it was a beautiful day which
makes anything eaten outdoors taste better. A lovely person named Sherry
Gould brought this jar of pickled vegetables that she had preserved some
time ago. She told me they need at least six weeks to mature. She sent me
the recipe and I doubled it yesterday because we had so many overripe
cucumbers which are the main ingredient. It yielded 16 pints.
This scaled-down version will be easy for those of you who can. Really
North Country Sweet and Sour
6 overripe cucumbers
3 red peppers
3 green peppers
The night before, peel the cucumbers and remove seeds. Cut into one inch
chunks a half inch thick. Slice the peppers and remove the seeds and pith,
then chop. Peel onions and slice thinly lengthwise. Put all the cut up
vegetables in a large bowl, cover with 1/4 cup of salt and let it sit
overnight. The next morning, drain and rinse the vegetables, then pack in
sterile quart canning jars (about eight).
Put the following in a large pot:
2 cups cider vinegar
1 teaspoon turmeric
2 cups white sugar
1 teaspoon mustard seed
2 cups brown sugar
1 teaspoon celery seed
Mix and bring to a boil. Pour liquid over vegetables in jars. Wipe jar rims
and put sterile lids and screw rings over each jar; process 15 to 20
minutes in a water bath. Store in a cool dark location. Let sit about 6 to
8 weeks for flavors to develop. These canned vegetables will be good for
several years if unopened.
This one is easy and improves with age. Fresh whole cranberries also freeze
beautifully so you can make this any time of year.
3 cups of fresh cranberries
1 apple, peeled and cored
1 orange, seeded
2 cups sugar (or substitute - see notes & tips)
Wash the cranberries and put through a meat grinder or food processor with
the orange and apple. Stir in the sugar, set aside in a cold, but not
freezing place, for several weeks before serving.
Notes & Tips
There are many sugar substitutes on the market as you probably know if you
have been watching your intake for weight loss or diabetes concerns. A
diabetic friend of mine has tried them all and highly recommends a sugar
replacement called Sprinkle Sweet. It contains maltodextrin and sodium
saccharin. This product is made by Associated Brands, Inc. and you may
direct any questions or comments to them at (800)634-5485.
Not all sugar substitutes are calorie free. Maltodextrin is handled like a
carbohydrate by the body and contains 4 calories per gram. Artificial
sweeteners containing saccharin are safe for most people, regardless of
age, but not for pregnant or nursing mothers.
Europeans brought apple seeds to these shores. These seeds developed into
many new varieties when bred with our American Indian crabapples. Apples
have nearly as many varieties as do potatoes. There are 7,500 varieties of
apples worldwide with 2,500 known varieties grown in the U.S.
Because of the high pectin content in apples, it is a good thing for people
with diabetes. This is because pectin, which is used to thicken jams and
jellies, forms itself into a gel which slows digestion, thus slowing the
rate of rise in blood sugar. Apples are high in fiber and the antioxidant
quercetin. Various antioxidants in food are known to lower the risk of
heart disease and some cancers.
The South Beach Diet, the Atkin's Diet, along with many other popular new
trends can't beat "The Cardiologist's Diet." This one says "if it tastes
good, spit it out." (Only kidding folks.)
I want to thank all of you who have sent in suggestions and ideas to
NativeCooking@aol.com. I am always learning things. Please let me know what
YOU want to see for recipes in this column.
Dale Carson is the author of three books, "New Native American Cooking,"
(temporarily out of print) "Native New England Cooking" and "A Dreamcatcher
For ordering information write to Dale Carson, P.O. Box 13, Madison, CT
06443 or e-mail NativeCooking@aol.com.