Thursday, June 29, 2006

Vin de Noix - Walnut Wine

I cannot give you an aperitif/digestif wine recipe, nor pictures of its preparation, better than William Rubel's instructions for vin de noix, or green walnut wine. His instructions are the ones I follow, as they are just like my family's recipe

Pictured above is my batch from 2004, sweet, dark, and mellow, like a fine port. The longer it sits in a dark cupboard, the better. Enjoy!

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Pickled Green Walnuts

2 - 3 lb young green walnuts
1/4 lb salt
3 1/2 pints water
1 oz black peppercorns
1 teaspoon allspice berries
2 1/2 pints malt or wine vinegar
2 1/2 cups sugar
1 tablespoon mustard seed
1 teaspoon grated fresh ginger
2 inch stick of cinnamon, crushed

Prick the walnuts all over with a large needle (these nuts are best picked before June 24th--you don't want any developed hard shell within the nut itself). Place the nuts in a ceramic bowl, dissolve half the salt in half the water and pour over the walnuts. Cover and leave for 5 days in a cool place, stirring twice a day to ensure even brining.

Drain the walnuts, mix the remaining salt and water, pour over the brine and leave for another five days, stirring twice a day as before. Drain, spread out in a single layer on a flat dish and leave to dry in the sun until they are black but not dry, turning every few hours.

Crush the peppercorns and allspice berries and simmer the vinegar with the sugar and spices for 20 minutes. Allow to cool and strain. Pack the walnuts into sterilized, wide-mouth jars, filling them no more than three-quarters full, and pour in the spiced vinegar. Cover and leave in a cool place for 6 weeks before using.

These pickles are delicious smashed into a viniagrette or mayonnaise for a salad or sandwich dressing. Try a slice of pickle and a slice of cheese for a canapé.

Thursday, June 08, 2006

Spruce Tips - Jelly & Beer & Salad

Pick only soft, light-colored tips--if they are hard, or dark, they will taste of "turpentine."

Spruce Tip Jelly
Pick about 6 cups of spruce tips selecting only the smallest, less open ones in the early spring. Rinse in cold water. Chopping them gives them more flavor than leaving them whole. Cover the tips with water and simmer for 10 minutes. Let stand overnight, strain with cheesecloth.

7 cups prepared spruce tip juice
1 cup lemon juice
2 packages MCP pectin (18thC cooks would have used tart apples or quince jelly)
10 cups sugar
1/4 tsp. butter (optional)
Mix juice with lemon juice and pectin, stir until dissolved. Bring to a full rolling boil for 2 minutes (or jelly test). Add butter to control foaming and pour into jars and seal. Serve on your favorite breads or heat and serve on pancakes. Or just spoon it out of the jar. But don't get caught!

Prince of Wales Island Fair Recipes, 1st issue, 1998
Recipe submitted by Sharon Hillis, Whale Pass, Alaska

Use left over tea for drinking or brew up another batch just for drinking. Add water to dilute and honey to taste.

Spruce beer was the frontier's answer to scurvy prevention.

Benjamin Franklin's Spruce Beer Source: Thomas Manteufel

A Way of Making Beer with Essence of Spruce:

For a Cask containing 80 bottles, take one pot of Essence and 13 Pounds of Molases. -or the same amount of unrefined Loaf Sugar; mix them well together in 20 pints of hot Water: Stir together until they make a Foam, then pour it into the Cask you will then fill with Water: add a Pint of good Yeast, stir it well together and let it stand 2 or 3 Days to ferment, after which close the Cask, and after a few days it will be ready to be put into Bottles, that must be tightly corked. Leave them 10 or 12 Days in a cool Cellar, after which the Beer will be good to drink.

Comments: Translated from the french while he was stationed in France.

The light bluish-green tips make a delightfully citrusy, spritely addition to green salads.
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