Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Preservation

I looked around my kitchen the other day and found that I had cucumbers pickling on the counter top, brined pork loin smoking on the grill, and brisket being brined into corned beef. I've become obsessed with methods previously used to preserve foods. Obviously these methods are nowhere near as necessary now with refrigerators and freezers and such, but my fondness for food preservation owes itself, in part, to the fact that these items do keep for a relatively long amount of time.
I live at home obviously, and I cook as much as possible, however there isn't always someone to eat my food. Pickles, or corned beef, or Canadian bacon can stay in the fridge for a while, and be eaten whenever one feels like it. Also, though if I braised a brisket, I would most definitely not be able to finish it myself at the time I cooked it, but if I made it all into corned beef, I have no doubt that I could single-handedly devour it in a week's time. If there was always someone here, at the ready to eat my food, I would be roasting chicken, or making pancakes, or sauteing fish a lot more often.
I started preserving food because there wasn't always someone to cook for, but my appreciation for it continues because preservation is usually accompanied by complete and utter transformation. I've talked about this before, but when you can take a lean, dry pork loin, and transform it through brining into a moist, succulent, flavorful and salty piece of meat, it amazes me and makes me feel accomplished. I don't find raw cucumbers the least bit appealing, yet I have no problem eating pickles straight from the jar. This is the cooking I love, and this is the cooking I will continue.

(These pickles went into a bring of garlic, red pepper flakes, and lime juice. The water is really red and murky because after I made the brine, I tasted it, and it wasn't spicy enough, so I squirted in a hefty amount of sriracha. They came out tasting good, not great. I'll definitely add more lime juice next time and maybe a little vinegar to give them some extra acidity, or maybe I'll just do it Ruhlman's way and let them develop a natural sourness by leaving them to brine uncovered)

7 comments:

James said...

The way to love raw cucumbers is to grow your own. The smell, taste & even texture is around a thousand miles from the ones you buy. A lot of people as well use cucumber fridge cold - room temperature changes everything.

denise said...

sriracha--the cure all! : )

Jason Sandeman said...

A good post! It really sounds like if you were to be a chef, you would fit well in Garde Manger. Preserving is a fascinating subject which is slowly disapearing from our culture. That is, unless it is Franken-fied!

Please, dig deeper into this. Experiment, and open the doors to new flavor profiles you have only dreamed of. A trip to an Asian market would be up your alley!

Mandoline said...

I can't believe that your family doesn't like what you make. You should educate them!

denise said...

i agree with the comment about growing your own cucumbers. i grew lemon cucumbers last year and ate them every which way -- they were absolutely fantastic! i also agree with eating them room temp. i never refrigerated mine.

catalinakolker said...

Could you tell me how you prepare your corned beef ? I would love to give it a try.

Nick N said...

catalina, I use this recipe except rather than boil it, I sous vide it.

http://leitesculinaria.com/5912/recipes-homemade-corned-beef.html