Category Archives: Preserving

Quick Pickled Red Onions

I have a confession to make.

When Wheat is out of town or unavailable for supper, I revert to single-girl eating.   I usually end up making sushi bowls.  I don’t even necessarily have to have to seared tuna.  Really, sushi rice, veggies, some yum yum sauce, and lots of sriracha is the perfect meal in a bowl for a gal like me.

The past few times I’ve made them though, their deliciousness has been increased by a factor of approximately 1,000 due to the addition of pickled red onions. Plus, it makes them way prettier.

So while this isn’t a recipe for whole meal, or even a whole entree, these pickled onions are oh so good on oh so many things that I highly recommend you go ahead and make them and pop them in the fridge.

Double Red Onion and Heartwood Forge Knife | Oysters & Pearls

You can start by slicing up red onions.  Attempt to slice them into paper thin half moons.  This process is made easier with a super sharp Heartwood Forge knife.  :)

Heartwood Forge Knife and Double Red Onion | Oysters & Pearls

This recipe is for one red onion, but I scaled it up to three red onions and a Hugh Jass pickle jar. Because I’m telling you, I officially now eat them on anything.  Most recently, thrown on top of a homemade pizza after I pulled it from the oven.  Try them on hot dogs, too.  And salads.  And have I mentioned sushi bowls?

Jar Packed with Thinly Sliced Red Onions for Quick Pickling | Oysters & Pearls

Homemade Quick Pickled Red Onions

ingredients

– 1 red onion, cut in half and sliced thinly
– 1/2 cup rice wine vinegar (may substitute apple cider or white vinegar)
– 1 tablespoon sugar
– 2 teaspoons Kosher salt

instructions

Slice the onion into paper thin half-moons and pack them tightly into a glass jar.  Mix vinegar, salt, and sugar together in a small sauce pan and bring to a boil.  Carefully pour the hot vinegar mixture over the onions.  Allow to cool to room temperature and place in the refrigerator.

Will keep for 2 to 3 weeks.

Recipe for Quick Pickled Red Onions | Oysters & Pearls

I suppose you could go to all the trouble of canning these, but what’s the point?  You’ll eat them in no time flat, and red onions are pretty much available all year round, and they take approximately 10 minutes to make.  Have I convinced you to make them yet?

Quick Pickled Red Onion Recipe | Oysters & Pearls

Not only are they Heaven-on-Earth for a pickle-lovin’ gal like myself, but they are also a lovely and colorful addition to whatever you choose to add them to, and take on more and more color the longer they sit.

Beautiful Quick Pickled Red Onions | Oysters & Pearls

I’m pretty sure the list of food items that these quick pickled red onions would enhance is endless, but here is a more comprehensive list off the top of my head: on sandwiches, hot dogs, pizza, sushi, sushi bowls, salads, chicken salad, ice cream? Ice cream.  With fried chicken, in pasta salad, in potato saladtangy shrimp saladmacaroni salad, chopped as a relish, on oysters, in salsa, on burgers, on tacos, with a fork… Anything I missed?

Basically, you shouldn’t even be reading anymore.  You should be at the market deciding whether you need 3 onions or twenty, or frantically slicing the onions you already have in your kitchen.

Until Next Time

Muscadine Jam + O&P’s One Year Anniversary!

Good morning!  And Happy Anniversary to Oysters & Pearls!!

I seriously cannot believe it’s been one year since I started this little ole blog.  It’s been such a fun experience, and I’m so happy I did it.  I love the conversation starter it has become around town, and I love the new people and bloggers I’ve met because of it, whether virtually or in person.  I can’t wait to see what this next year holds!

To celebrate, I was going to make an elaborate cake, or pie, or something that seemed befitting of such a special occasion.  However, that idea completely went out the window when I decided to make jam instead.  Which I suppose is fitting after all.  Simple and as Southern as it gets: Muscadine Jam.

Simple Muscadine Jam | Oysters & Pearls

No, this is absolutely not seasonal.  Muscadine grapes ripen near the end of August, and that’s when I picked these at my parents’ house.  Remember me mentioning that?  Let’s take a trip down memory lane, to a sunnier, warmer, and much tanner time.

Scuppernongs On The Vine | Oysters & Pearls

Muscadines on the Vine | Oysters & Pearls

Muscadine Grapes | Oysters & Pearls

Picking Grapes | Oysters & Pearls

Gold Muscadine Grapes | Oysters & Pearls

Gold Muscadine Grapes | Oysters & Pearls

Grapes | Oysters & Pearls

Both the purple and gold grapes are technically “muscadines.”  I grew up calling them all “scuppernongs.”  I’ve since learned that they are both muscadines, but the gold variety are scuppernongs.  Sort of like, a square is a rectangle, but a rectangle is not a square.  Ya mean?

Anyway, the absolute best way to eat these grapes is directly off the vine.  Pop the hull and spit out the seeds.

Muscadine Grapes | Oysters & Pearls

Purple and Gold Muscadine Grapes | Oysters & Pearls

Don’t you just feel warmer now?  I think I’m just about over this winter weather and ready for summer again.  Writing this post and editing these pictures from August really sealed the deal, and a reminder of summer through the pictures and the smell of these grapes cooking is exactly what I needed this week.  Is anybody else over winter?

Anyway, last August my Mom and I picked almost 8 gallons of grapes behind my parents’ house.

Purple and Gold Southern Muscadine Grapes | Oysters & Pearls

We washed them, separated them by color, and bagged them up.  I had big plans for jelly.  Or something.

Southern Muscadine Grapes | Oysters & Pearls

But then life got busy and in the way, and in a panic, I stuffed all the bags in our deep freezer.  Whole.  Turns out, that’s okay!  And last weekend, I got around to doing something with some of them.

Scuppernong Grapes (Muscadines) and Sugar | Oysters & Pearls

Using a recipe from one of my favorite food bloggers, Elena over at Biscuits & Such, I decided I would make a simple muscadine jam with a couple bags of grapes.  It didn’t work out perfectly, and my first two batches of the jam never really set.  However, I’ve since repeated the process a couple more times, figured out how to fix it, but also decided that this happy accident is perfectly all right with me.  Scuppernong Sauce is also the jam.

Scuppernong Grapes for Jam | Oysters & Pearls

Muscadine Jam Recipe
adapted from Biscuits & Such
makes 4 jelly-jars (half pint)

ingredients

– 2 pounds (1 gallon freezer bag full) muscadine grapes (any variety)
– 2 cups raw cane sugar
– juice of two meyer lemons (1 cup)
– 1 teaspoon salt
– 1 packet Sure Jell Pectin

instructions

In a large sauce pan, combine grapes, sugar, lemon juice, and salt.  Simmer for 30 to 45 minutes until thick.  Stir in pectin and simmer an additional 10 minutes.  Note: this will take longer if you are using frozen grapes.  I put them in the pot frozen, and started the timer once they began to simmer.  Stir often to make sure nothing is sticking to the bottom of the pot, and smash the grapes against the side of the pot.
In a waterbath or your dishwasher, sanitize jars and lids.
Push the jam mixture through a mesh strainer to create a smooth jam, or leave the grapes intact for a chunky preserve.  I did the former.
Use a spoon or ladle to fill the jars, leaving a 1/4″ headspace.  Wipe the rims of the jars with a cloth and screw the bands down over the lids tightly.  Process jars for 10 minutes in boiling water, then remove to a dishcloth on your counter.  Let sit for 24 hours or overnight.  If any jars do not seal within 2 hours, immediately put them in the refrigerator.

Disclaimer: as with any canning or preserving, there’s always a slight risk of botulism.  If something doesn’t seal, stick it in the fridge.  If you have any concerns whatsoever, toss it.

Meyer Lemons and Sugar for Scuppernong Jam | Oysters & Pearls

I mentioned my happy Scuppernong Sauce accident because it’s awesome.  The problem lies in the straining process.  If you don’t push enough of the jam through a mesh strainer, your “jam” won’t set.  And pushing it through a mesh strainer is no joke.  You will have to do a lot of pushing.  I used the back of a wooden spoon as well as the bottom of a soup ladle.  Try to get as much pulp through as possible if you want a true jam that sets (jells).  However, if you want a delicious summery scuppernong/muscadine syrup/sauce that is delicious on ice cream, in yogurt, or on biscuits, by all means, don’t kill yourself with all that straining.  Because this stuff is the jam, whether or not it actually sets.

Muscadine or Scuppernong Jam | Oysters & Pearls

I am absolutely giddy with the idea of swirling some of this syrupy sauce into a batch of homemade vanilla ice cream this summer.  I can’t think of a more Southern summer dessert.

And have I mentioned it’s divine on a biscuit?

Simple Southern Breakfast- Biscuit with Scuppernong Jam | Oysters & Pearls

That goes for any time of year.  Including the frosty doldrums of this South Georgia winter.

Biscuit with Muscadine Jam | Oysters & Pearls

And although I would love to gift each and every one of my wonderful readers a jar of this Heavenly jam/syrup/sauce, I have another gift for you.  I like to make little labels on jars of jam I gift to those I love, and since I can’t give you the jar, I’ll give you the label.  Just print, write the type of jam you’re giving, and sign it.  It should fit perfectly on the lid of a jelly jar.

You're The Jam Printable | Oysters & Pearls

Because you, my dear readers, are indeed, the jam.  Thanks for making this one of my best years yet.

xoxo

Until Next Time

Homemade Limoncello

I hope everyone had a nice day off yesterday, if you had one.  I spent mine writing and making grape jam (yes, out of those grapes I stuffed in the freezer in August).  Post to come!  But I’m excited to get some of them out of the freezer, and also to finally share some of the pictures I took way back when we picked them.

Continuing with the lemon theme, I tried another new lemon project this year: limoncello!

Homemade Italian Limoncello Recipe

I had never made limoncello, but I’ve had it, and I knew I didn’t want it too tart, or too sweet.  I remembered reading a recipe for it from the Splendid Table, but after reading the comments, a few Italians chastised the author on her method.  The Splendid Table puts the zest in with the simple syrup, strains it, then adds vodka.  The Italians frown upon this method, apparently, so I kept searching.  I finally ran across a new (to me) blog, The Italian Dish, with a seemingly legit limoncello recipe, which she claims to be “not overly sweet, but just right.”  After further investigation, the recipe came from Mamma Agata: Traditional Italian Recipes of a Family That Cooks with Love and Passion in a Simple and Genuine Way (<– affiliate link!), which apparently is one of the most sought after Italian cook books on Earth.  I don’t really expect you to click that Amazon link and actually buy it though.  Just read the reviews.  It has the best reviews I think I’ve ever seen on anything!   To buy it new on Amazon is apparently $185?! Whoa.  I ordered mine directly from the source – Mamma Agata herself.

Anyway, I was clearly sold on all things Mamma Agata and got to peeling Wheat’s Aunt Danna Sue’s gorgeous Meyer lemons.

Mind you, scrub your lemons first.
And also mind you: the better the lemons, the better the limoncello.

Danna Sue's Meyer Lemons, Pre-Limoncello | Oysters & Pearls

Limoncello recipes all call for lemon zest, not grated, but peeled, without any traces of pith on them.  Let me tell you, this is easier said than done.  Make sure you have a very sharp paring knife on hand for this task.  And be careful, while you’re at it.

Meyer Lemon Peel for Homemade Limoncello | Oysters & Pearls

Nobody’s perfect.

Homemade Italian Limoncello
recipe via The Italian Dish, via Mamma Agata: Traditional Italian Recipes of a Family That Cooks with Love and Passion in a Simple and Genuine Way

ingredients

– zest of six or seven (I used 8, just to be sure) large organic lemons
– 1 litre or quart of pure grain alcohol or vodka (I used Tito’s Handmade Vodka)
– 5 cups (1250 mL) water
– 3 cups (700 grams) sugar

instructions

Peel the zest from the lemons with a sharp paring knife or vegetable peeler, carefully avoiding the bitter white pith, and place in a large glass jar.  Add the alcohol to the jar with the lemon zest.

Cover the jar with plastic wrap and store in a cool place for a week.

After a week, boil the water and add the sugar, stirring until fully dissolved.  Set the simple syrup aside for at least a few hours, or until it is cooled completely.

Strain the lemon peels from the alcohol and add the alcohol to the simple syrup, stirring well.

Serve chilled, from the refrigerator or freezer.

The limoncello will keep for up to two years when stored in a bottle, capped or corked, in a cool place.  When ready to serve, chill in your refrigerator or freezer.

Meyer Lemon Peels in Vodka for Homemade Limoncello | Oysters & Pearls

I wasn’t fully prepared with bottles for storage, and the recipe made quite a bit of limoncello.  I used two glass half-gallon milk bottles to store most of it, plus a hodgepodge of other bottles I had saved.  This eclectic mix actually included a bottle found in my mother-in-law’s kitchen cast offs, which looks an awful lot like a real limoncello bottle.  I carved up a saved wine cork to cork it with, and I was very pleased indeed with my hoarding.

Homemade Limoncello | Oysters & Pearls

“It’s not hoarding if you actually use it!” shouted the crazy lady.

Meyer Lemon Peels in Vodka for Homemade Limoncello | Oysters & Pearls

Right?

Homemade Limoncello Recipe | Oysters & Pearls

Now I will anxiously await Mamma Agata’s arrival in my kitchen so I can further pretend I am really an Italian and continue to mentally plan my our dream trip to Italy.

Cheers!

Until Next Time