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Save that Summer Produce!

Our Chefs' Tips & Recipes for Holding onto Our Seasonal Faves

To-may-to, to-mahh-to—let’s worry less about pronunciation and more about how we’re going to savor these and all of the other Summer favorites once the season is over!

1: Jammin’ & Canin’

We told our Brand Development Chef, Oscar Granados, that we were headed to the farmer’s market to hoard the entire remaining crop of tomatoes. Caprese for days! He dared us to finish them all, but just in case we can’t before they turn, he gave us his Chef-y tip for enjoying them until next to-mahhhh-to season—turn ‘em into a jam!

Chef Oscar’s Summer Tomato Jam

1 ½  pounds good ripe tomatoes (Chef recommends Romas), cored and coarsely chopped
1  cup sugar
2  tablespoons freshly squeezed lime juice
1  tablespoon fresh grated or minced ginger
1  teaspoon ground cumin
¼  teaspoon ground cinnamon
⅛  teaspoon ground cloves
1  teaspoon salt
1  jalapeño or other pepper, stemmed, seeded and minced (red pepper flakes or cayenne to taste can work as a substitute!)

PREP: Combine all ingredients in a heavy medium saucepan and bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring often.

Reduce heat and simmer, stirring occasionally, until mixture has consistency of thick jam, about 1 hour 15 minutes. Taste and adjust seasoning, then cool and refrigerate until ready to use. Once open,  this will keep at least a week.

2: Fermenting

But what about about some of our other not-so-sweet Summer veggies? Is zucchini jam a thing? For that, we turned to Executive Chef of Searsucker San Diego, Chris Gerwig. His go-to way to keep seasonal veggies is to ferment them, which not only preserves, but makes for a tasty new snack that’s also great for your gut!

Fermenting is a simple, yet complex process of converting carbohydrates to alcohol or organic acids using yeasts or bacteria. If you want to get really serious about it, Chef Chris recommends “The Art of Fermentation” by Sandor Ellix Katz. If you just want a way to hold onto your summer cukes a little longer, here are his pro tips!

1 – You MUST use glass jars (or ceramic fermentation pots). Hinge jars are best, because they allow gas to get out, but not come in (see tip 6)

2 – For the brine (a Chef-y term for a mix of salt and water), Chef uses 25-25 grams of salt per liter of water. No scale? No problem! You can actually just salt the veggies (generously) first, THEN submerge in water

3 – Break out the flava flave! Add garlic! Peppercorn! Chili flakes! Dill! But use these sparingly–the flavors will become extra strong in the fermenting process

4 – Once the veggies are packed in the jar and covered with water, you’ll need to weight them with something on top to ensure they stay below the water completely

5 – The optimal temps for fermenting are between 65-75 degrees (or a cool space in your house) for the first 5-10 days before transferring them to the fridge. The longer you keep out of the fridge, the sour-er the final product will be.

6 – Your veggies, like babies, need to be burped! Un-seal your jar for a few moments throughout the fermentation process—otherwise, when you go to enjoy the veggies of your labor, the jar may aggressively burst open, and a shirt covered in fermentation juice just isn’t a good look.

3: Pickling

Ticklin’ for some picklin’? Searsucker Del Mar Executive Sous Chef Ryan Star uses different methods of pickling on his Summer fruits & veggies to create new and flavorful sides & fixin’s that’ll keep after peak season. Here are recipes for two of his favorites:

Chef Ryan’s Summer Watermelon Rind Kimchi

400g watermelon rind (little to no red flesh,  green skin peeled), sliced thinly
1 tbsp coarse sea salt
2 ½ tbsp Korean chilli powder**
½ tsp fish sauce
2 tsp garlic, minced
1 tsp ginger, minced
1 spring onion, chopped
½ tsp sesame oil
½ tsp sesame seeds, toasted

PREP: Using your hands, massage the salt into the watermelon rind in a large bowl.  Leave for 30 minutes to draw out the moisture, then rinse the rind under cold water, drain and gently squeeze to remove excess water.

Combine rind with all remaining ingredients and mix well (Chef uses his hands to make sure every nook & cranny is covered).  Put into glass jar (chilli powder & garlic can permeate plastic!), and store in the fridge for several weeks.

**Chef’s Note: Ryan recommends Korean chilli powder (gochugaru) if you can find it–it’s less salty compared to others like cayenne–so if you can’t find it just skip the ingredient altogether!

Chef Ryan’s Pickled Summer Corn Relish

5 cups fresh whole kernel corn (8-10 ears), or three 10-ounce frozen packages 
2-1/2 cups diced sweet peppers (mix of red & green)
1-1/4 cups chopped celery
3/4 cup diced onions
3/4 cup sugar
1-1/4 cups vinegar (5 percent)
1-1/4 tbsp canning or pickling salt
1-1/4 tsp celery seed
1-1/4 tbsp dry mustard
3/4 tsp turmeric

PREP: Boil ears of corn 5 minutes. Dip in cold water. Cut whole kernels from cob (unless using frozen). 

Separately, combine peppers, celery, onions, sugar, vinegar, salt & celery seed in a saucepan. Bring to boil and simmer 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. 

In a small bowl, mix mustard & turmeric in 1/4 cup of simmered mixture. Add with corn to the simmered veggies and simmer another 5 minutes. If desired, thicken mixture with flour paste (1/8 cup flour blended in 1/8 cup water) and stir frequently. Fill glass jars with hot mixture, leaving 1/2-inch head space. Refrigerate and enjoy when you start forgetting what Summer tastes like!

4: Freezing

And for all you “ain’t nobody got time for these recipes” people out there, Searsucker San Diego Executive Sous Chef Santanna Salas says “ice, ice, baby!” She freezes her Summer fruits at peak ripeness, so she can have peaches in the Fall, cherries in the Winter and strawberries in the early Spring. 

Her step-by-step process:

1 – Wash & prep your produce as normal (hull, remove seeds & rinds, chop or slice)

2 – To preserve the shape & texture, you can freeze fruits packed in sugar (using a ratio of 2 cups fruit to 1 cup sugar) 

3 – Fill your containers or freezer baggies to the top, and remove all the air out to prevent freezer burn

4 – To prevent delicate berries from getting smooshed between your pints of Ben & Jerry’s and that half-drunk bottle of Tito’s, freeze in a single layer on a baking sheet, then transfer to bag or container