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Vegetable preserves, summer souvenir
In oil, vinegar or au naturel, vegetable preserves allow you to taste all year long the produce of summer orchard.
The best vegetables to use to make preserves are fresh, seasonal and – if possible – organic vegetables. It is advisable to avoid using early produce because it is not so tasty, is bitter, has a greater environmental impact and is more expensive than the vegetables grown in season.
The preparation of vegetables
You just need to clean them with running water so that they don’t absorb too much water. Some vegetables, such as aubergines, must be salted so that they lose their bitter vegetation water. Then, you have to cut vegetables into small pieces, cook in water and vinegar for a few minutes and dry them. All the ingredients must be perfectly dry because even the slightest hint of humidity can cause a preserve to grow mouldy.
Vinegar and in vinegar vegetables
White wine vinegar is better than red wine vinegar because the former keeps unchanged the colour of the preserve and is lighter than the latter. Vegetables suitable to be pickled include peppers, cucumbers, beetroots and cauliflower. After preparing them, you should put the vegetables into a jar, cover them with vinegar and then close the jars hermetically without sterilizing them. If you keep them in a fresh environment, they will stay good from eight to twelve months.
Oil and in oil vegetables
Code word: extra virgin olive oil. The most suitable oils for their delicacy are those from Liguria and Tuscany, but for those who prefer a stronger taste it is better to opt for extra virgin olive oil produced in Southern Italy. The vegetables that can be pickled in oil are aubergines, mushrooms, artichokes and stuffed tomatoes. After cooking them, you should adjust them in glass jars and cover them with oil, avoiding to leave empty spaces or air bubbles. Sterilise if the recipe requires it. They are ready after fifteen days and should be consumed within a year.
It is suitable for asparagus, carrots, peas, and green beans. You just need to boil the vegetables in salty water and let them dry. Put them in a jar with the preservation liquid obtained by melting 8 grams of salt per litre of water. Sterilise and leave the jars filled with vegetables in hot water for at least one hour.
One more tip
Preserves, labelled with date of expiry, should be kept in a dark and fresh place, away from heat sources.
How to sterilise containers
Sterilisation is necessary. You should boil the containers in a pot of water for at least 5 minutes. Then you have to remove them with pliers or a carving fork and place them upside down on a clean rag. After about ten minutes you should turn them to make water evaporate. When you use them they must be completely dry.
How to sterilise vegetable preserves
Whether they are pickled in oil, in syrup or au naturel they need to be sterilised. Once you close the jars, you have to put them in a pot filled with water until 2/3 of the jars’ height. If the content is cold, use cold water; if the content is hot, use hot water. It is advisable to wrap the jars in a cloth in order to avoid breaking them. Follow the sterilization times of the recipe.
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