It was a few summers ago now. At a time where food culture was just kicking in my bloodstream and local farmer’s markets were closing more and more cross streets in Chicago. After a short stint the previous year in eating ‘just from the market’ my then girlfriend and I decided to pony up to a CSA the following year. Our homework was short and found a few enterprising young brothers who brought their CSA up from a family farm in St. Anne.
Our CSA was always large enough that we struggled to eat all of food in a week, and because necessity is the mother of invention and we hate to waste, I started to can. Then came the jalapenos. I like heat, but never went out of my way to buy jalapenos nor ate them often enough to warrant a bag of them, let alone a bag a week. So what to do? First was the salsa, then well… giardiniera. I’ve loved the spicy, oily goodness for a long time, but felt it was missing something. So I thought I’d give making at home a go to find what. It was soon after cracking open my first batch that I found what.
Traditional canning and sometimes pickling sometimes make veggies a bit… well flat. There are techniques to creating a more flavorful and – the kicker – crunchier preserve than what a supermarket could offer. When giard is made crunchy the peppers come alive; carrots, cauliflower, anything else added in become their own splashes on the canvas, a part of the brightly colored jars. So as an employee of a restaurant where our kitchen staff and owner are always open to new ideas – I brought in a jar. It was a hit and I was then tasked to whip up a few batches.
Turns out my lack of kitchen experience, slowed things down too much – so I was politely nudged out. The recipe was focused, the procedures changed slightly, but all in name of creating a better, longer lasting crunch in the jar. It’s now on the shelves at Provenance, and making it’s way to Wisconsin.
And that in is, in it’s way, how the best thing we do start. A spark of an idea, execution, and growth into something truly special. That is what our Giard is – bright vinegar splashes with escalating heat, full flavored veggies and a nice even saltiness. Enjoy it in the Cuban sandwich or grab a jar in the grocery – it’s fantastic on pizza, burgers, or heck in a meatloaf.
Love Jake’s Giard? Wanna share your love or have a recipe idea? Share below in the comments!