We are going to do some canning today. In Azerbaijan, canning is a sort of culinary tradition. Jars with homemade preserves, jams, pickles, relishes, sauces can be found in almost every household. They are usually prepared in summer when fruits and vegetables are in abundance and consumed in winter when they are in high demand:)
Pickles make a perfect accompaniment to meat dishes, to kebabs, and to what we call call “dough dishes”, or pasta. Pickled stuffed eggplant and bell pepper, pickled garlic, green tomato, pickled sour plums, are among the most popular. I remember as a kid I would make my own jar of pickles with purslane (perpetoyun in Azeri). I think I was about 9 0r 10. We used to live in a house with a small front yard, and wild purslane would grow there. I would pick it and pack it in a small jar, fill it up with vinegar and then a week later tell the world about how delicious my pickles were! It was quite an adventure. Now back to reality.
I like this mixed vegetable pickle, called Heftebejer in Azeri. The recipe is easy. The only “difficult” part is chopping the vegetables, but it doesn’t take that long. Store this pickle in an air-seal glass jar, known as fido jar (See picture at the end), for your convenience. Scoop out as much as you want with your food and snap the seal back tightly to keep the pickle fresh until next time. Now, roll up your sleeves, let’s can! And here’s my new abbreviation – YCC which stands for YOU CAN CAN!!:)
MIXED VEGETABLE PICKLE / HEFTEBECER TURSHUSU
Preparation time: 45 minutes
Curing Time: 1 week
Makes: 2-liter jar
2 medium or 1 large eggplant (about 1 pounds / 450g), chopped in cubes
1 medium cabbage, quartered and thinly sliced (about 2 pounds / 900g)
2 bell peppers, chopped (1/2 pounds / 225 g)
1 chili pepper, chopped (optional, for spicier pickles)
4 medium green tomatoes (about 1pound / 450 g), chopped
4 medium carrots (about 1 pound / 450 g), shredded
1 stalk celery, trimmed and chopped
1 bulb garlic, peeled and finely chopped
1 cup fresh chopped mint
1 cup fresh chopped parsley
4 tablespoons salt
1/3 quart (300 ml / 1/3 liter) or more white wine (grape) vinegar
TIP: To save time, prepare the eggplant first. While its bitterness is being removed, chop other vegetables. Eggplant should be ready when you finish chopping the other ingredients.
1. Place the chopped eggplant in a colander and sprinkle with plenty of salt. Put colander in a sink. Place a weight, such a plate or lid, on top, to keep the eggplant lightly pressed down. Leave for about 20 minute, to draw out the bitter dark juices. Rinse the eggplant under cold running water. Drain, and squeeze dry with your hands.
2. In a large mixing bowl, combine vegetables and herbs together. Add salt and mix thoroughly with your hands. Set aside for 20 minutes to allow the juices to extract. You will notice the vegetables shrink in bulk.
3. Sterilize a canning jar in boiling water and dry thoroughly.
4. Squeeze the vegetable mixture with your hands to drain the juices and place it in the jar, pressing with your hands to pack tightly. Pour in the vinegar to cover the vegetables.
5. Seal the jar and store in a cool place for 1 week before serving to allow the flavors to develop.