pickleweed

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Pics from July Wild Kitchen Dinners

Here are our favorite pics from our last couple Wild Kitchen dinners by our amazing photographer Robin Jolin (robinjolin.com), who always makes the food look even more delicious than in real life. This dinner was eight courses, and featured a lot of great summer fruit, as well as some forageables from the coast and inland.  Thanks to all the people who came, it was a great crowd, and especially to the people who bartered such great stuff. Remember, we're always looking for people to barter skills, kitchen equipment, massages and the like. If you haven't checked them out yet, and want to get emailed when they're happening, sign up in the subscribe box on the homepage at foragesf.com. Thanks

Iso

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Eat Real

[gallery columns="2"] My Eat Real marathon weekend of sea bean proselytizing is over.  It was great to get out and talk to people about what we're up to, and really exciting to see how into people are.  Foraging is often a lonely pursuit, and I get the feeling that people are often a bit confused about just what it is we're trying to do at forageSF, so getting face to face with people and answering questions about what we're about was great.  So great in fact that I'm going to start a push to get into some local farmers markets. It was originally my intention, but the focus moved a bit over the last year, and it got put on the back burner.  The problem with selling wild food in a certified market (meaning that everyone there is the primary producer) is that no one actually produces wild food.  We forage it, so we are as close to producers as any human gets, but not close enough.  It's a pretty funny situation to be in, what makes the food so interesting to me and to others is the exact reason it can't be sold.  I talked to a couple farmers market managers who seemed to think we could find some common ground, so I'm optimistic.  So look for us at your farmers market soon!

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Seabeans four ways

sea beans 4 ways In lead up to the Eat Real festival next weekend, where forageSF will be selling in the marketplace (come visit!), I'm doing some recipe experimentation. We're going to be there on Saturday and Sunday, near the Embarcadero st entrance to the marketplace (not sure if that's a good location, never been to Jack London Square).  We are also going to be there on friday for the foraging/canning exchange, where I will give a seabean cooking demo, as well as have wild food experts on hand to answer all your urban edible questions.

Eat Real is letting eat vendor sell one product, and since sea beans hold a special place in my heart (and since I'm going foraging next week for them) I figured I'd go with that. I'm going to be selling both fresh and packaged, and I'm trying to decide what the perfect recipe is.  Today I did...Seabeans with garlic, seabeans with garlic and lemon juice, seabeans with garlic, ginger and sesame, seabeans with garlic, ginger, sesame, onions and porcini.

I settled on the porcini.  It's great how the mushroom and onion flavors mingle with the saltiness of the sea beans, and it also makes it more of a dish, adding the veggies and fungi. Here's what I did....

Since it's the off season for local mushrooms, I used dried porcini.  I actually prefer porcini dried in some instances, the dehydration really concentrated the flavor.

1 oz dried porcini

2 shallots - sliced

2 cups sea beans

butter

olive oil

2 cloves garlic - minced

1 inch plug ginger - minced

First, soak porcini for 15-20 minutes in cold water, then slice thin.Heat a mixture of butter and 1 tbsp butter over medium heat, then add onions, cook until onions start to caramelize, then add garlic and porcini, stirring often to make sure garlic doesn't burn. A line cook trick is to throw a small splash of water into the pan if you see the garlic starting to brown.  Now you add the sea beans, stir to incorporate, and then turn heat to low, cover, cook 8 minutes. take off cover, turn heat up to cook off any liquid. serve. easy and delicious, good as a side.  Sauteing seabeans is a great way to eat them, because it takes away some of that intense saltiness, and lets the other flavors creep in.

If you want to see how I do it, come check it out, friday at 6 pm at jack london square...check the Eat Real site for exact address.

Recipes

Naturally fermented seabean pickles

all in a rowI'm convinced that seabeans make a great pickle.  They're already salty, crunchy, so small that the pickling mixture soaks through them pretty quickly, but so far my experiments have not been super successful...too much vinegar, not enough salt, too much garlic, not enough dill.  I'm starting from scratch, and this time, am using the naturally fermented method.

Rather than vinegar and pickling spices, this method uses only salt,water, garlic.  Dill and other flavorings can included to taste, but this time I used only the above. Vinegar free pickles are the traditional way of making pickles. Rather than trapping out bacteria via vinegar (basically making an antiseptic brine where nothing can live), naturally fermented pickles actually grow their own beneficial bacteria.  This serves several purposes. 1. it makes them deliciously tart, 2. it keeps out bad bacteria, and 3. the pickles are actually good for you. The same kind of good bacteria that lives in yogurt (Lactobacillus) grows in these pickles, helping your digestion and immune system.    All good things.  Without further ado, here's what I did today....

What I used:

1 cup Sea Salt

11 cups filtered h20

2 cloves garlic

1.5 lbs sea beans (also known as pickleweed or samphire)

My trusty Makers notebook ( a gift for being in the makers faire)

gallon jar (mine was not widemouthed, but thats ideal if you have one)

my stuff

What I did:

1.Cleaned the jar with a splash of boiling water

2. Mixed 11 Cups water and 1 Cup Sea Salt (old wives tale says that you should be able to float an egg in the brine...I generally find old wives to be right, and this brine passes that test)

my jar

3.took out egg.

4.added sea beans and garlic (I didn't have any dill, but I'm sure that will make it that much more delicious)

5.the reason for using a wide mouth jar is that you need a way to keep the veggies underneath the brining solution while it sits.  The best way to do this is to get a plate that just fits into the jar, and use a rock to weigh it down. My jar has a tapered lid, so I couldn't do that.  My solution (a very elegant one I gleaned from a woman at the makers faire...Rachel I think (sorry if you're reading this) ) is to fill a plastic bag with water, seal the top, and squeeze that through the jar. It acts to keep the seabeans down, pretty cool.  It's really not ideal, because you don't necessarily want plastic sitting on your food for that long, but works in a pinch.

6. that's it! cover the jar, and let it sit in a dark place for a while. Check them after 1,2,3 weeks, this way you can taste as the flavor develops. These should keep for about a year.  I'll update in a week, see how the experiment is holding up. Make sure to keep track of what you did, so you can change/repeat it next time.

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Recipes

Dilly Sea Bean Pickles

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Sea Beans are great, I love their salty crunch.  Also called pickleweed, Sea Beans are known scientifically as Salicornia europae variety ruba, and are halophytic (salt loving) plants. When I try to describe how they taste, I always "the Sea".  It reminds me of warm days spent by the coast. That's what's so great about foraging, getting to hold onto the time you spend outside, rather than just a memory, you're reminded by foods you bring home.  Sea Beans can be found in salt marshes up and down the coast.  If you're harvesting them near the city, be careful that it's not from a polluted area, the bay's got more of those than not.  Often used as a  garnish in restaurants, sea beans can be eaten raw, but they're so salty that a full plate is not that appetizing. I try to find other uses.  They are great sauteed with butter and garlic if you're in a hurry, but if you've got time (6 weeks or so), they make a great pickle.  Crisp and salty, their thin build lets the picking mix penetrate all the way to the center, totally masking the Sea Bean flavor.  Experiment with different concoctions, but my favorite is dill.  Great with fish, or in egg salad.  Pics are a bit blurry, I guess the iphone isn't perfect.

To make Dilly Sea Beans, you'll need.....

-1/2 pint mason jars (you can use larger ones, but I like standing all the sea beans up in the jar, and this size is perfect for that)

- Garlic (optional)

- Fresh dill

- White vinegar

 

1.     The first step is to sterilize your jars. This isn't a super crucial step since we're using vinegar in the pickling (a soap and water wash is probably fine), but it's a good habit to get into, and becomes more important when making naturally fermented pickles.

-Fill the jars half full with H20.  Place in microwave on high for 5-8 minutes, and forget about them for a bit.  I'm generally not a fan of the microwave, but if you want to kill things, it's the place to put them(kinda makes you wonder what it's doing to your food).  This is a good time to put your lids and rims in some water to boil, they should boil for about 10 minutes (don't put them in the microwave!...unless you want to have a really good story about explosions in the kitchen)

2.   Next step is to get your ingredients together.  Peel your garlic and....well that's about it, it's super easy.  If you want to get a bit OCD, and want your finished product to be a work of food art, the envy of your peers, and a testament to the validity of the  dominant power of the human race on our small planet, you can pick out the long sea beans and arrange them in piles according to size and direction, if not, that's cool too.

3. Make a cocktail of 1/2 h2o, 1/2 vinegar (figure out how much you'll need to fill the jars), and boil.

4.  Get the jars out of microwave, empty the water.

5. While that heats up, place a sprig (mostly leaves) of dill and optional garlic clove in the bottom of each jar, and then fill with sea beans.  I like to stand them all up in one direction, for vanities sake.  Then place a sprig of dill on top.

6. Once vinegar boils, fill jars, leaving 1/2inch at the top of each.

7. Place lids on jars, making sure the edges are clean.

8.  Now one more boil, place jars in a pot with water to 3/4 height of jar. Boil for 10 minutes.

8. Done! So easy, so delicious. Well, I guess not quite done.  After they cool check to make sure the lids don't pop, if they do, the vacuum didn't seal, and they should be put in the fridge to pickle. Place the jars in a cool dark place, and let sit for 4-6 weeks.  You can use these in the same way you would cucumber pickles. Sandwiches, egg salad...well I suppose you know how to use pickles.  Last thoughts : They're Great! Make them! Also, I'm going to be at the maker faire in the homegrown village, may 29th-31st showing people how to make these, as well as limoncello. Come say hi.

Western Vinigar is local, right?

Western Vinigar is local, right?

Beauty has no price

Beauty has no price

Dilly

Dilly

Getting ready

Getting ready