Archive for the ‘condiments’ Category

homemade pesach pickles

13 Mar

As far back as I can remember, my mother has made her own pickles for Pesach.  It was a tradition she got from her mother, no doubt because they did not use Passover vinegar or fresh garlic.  I can’t say that I liked them, so I never continued the tradition.  Her pickles would sit for weeks in the boiler room and then on the window sill throughout Yom Tov.  They were soft and mushy inside (practically alive!) and I stayed far away from them.  Now my brother has experimented with his own version and this is the first year that I am attempting my own jars of fresh homemade pickles for Pesach.


  • fresh dill
  • 4 garlic cloves
  • 2 lbs. Persian cucumbers
  • jalapeno peppers, optional, whole or cut, with or without seeds (wear gloves!)
  • 4 tablespoons salt
  • cold water to fill jar
  • If you use kosher for passover vinegar, you can use equal amounts of water and vinegar, and cut down the salt to about 2 Tbsp.


They are quite simple to prepare.  First, I  bought a couple of 8-cup “ball” brand jars with a 2 pc screw on cover.  While preparing the cucumbers, I soaked the rubber part of the cover in hot water.  Start by putting the dill and garlic cloves on the bottom of the jar.  Top with cucumbers and jalapeno peppers.  Pour salt into the jar, fill with water, and tightly screw on the cover.  Store in a cool dry spot for 2-3 weeks.  Store jar upside down for the first 24 hours.  When pickles are to your liking, store in the refrigerator.

note: The pickles were delicious (albeit a bit salty).  By request, I will have to make more next year!!



may, time to start a rumpot

16 May

I’ve wanted to do this for years, and finally, amidst the frenzied activities of pre-Shavuos cheesecake baking, I bought a crock and and a flat of strawberries to start a rumpot.  The push to make one actually came from a local farm which reminds me daily through social media, that it is strawberry picking season.  But it is 25 minutes away and the hours are 9-3 and I just can’t seem to get there during these busy work days.

A rumpot (or rumtopf) is a crock which is used to preserve summer’s fruit and berries in a delicious way so you have them throughout the year as an accent to desserts such as compote, pound cake, ice cream, and cheesecake.  The recipe for sour cherries which I’ve made with success for several years now, preserves the cherries in (95%) alcohol, while the berries in the rumpot are preserved in light rum.  The idea of adding fruit as you go, and making your own mix of favorite fruit and berries is very exciting, because there’s somewhat of a surprise element in that you never know how the final mix will turn out.

To start your rumpot, you will take any fruit or berry which is ripe to eat (start with one kind), and toss it in an equal weight of sugar.  I am starting my rumpot with strawberries. After washing them (for bugs) and taking off the green tops, I weighed the fruit and then weighed an equal amount of sugar, and tossed it with the fruit.  Then I put it in the crock and covered the fruit with light rum.  It is important to put a plate or other weight on the fruit & close the lid tightly as rum can evaporate and it is imperative that all the fruit be submerged at all times.  As the fruits and berries of summer ripen and come into season, you can add them to the rumpot in the same way – by tossing with an equal weight of sugar, adding them to the crock and adding rum to cover.

After making your additions, keep the crock in a cool, dark place until October or November.  Enjoy ladeling the fruit over desserts or drinking the delicious liquor of the fruits of your labor.



homemade chrain (beet horseradish)

04 Apr

Of all the marvelous recipes I have culled from my machatenista in Antwerp, this one serves me year in and year out.  Although I have yet to use the cloves and bay leaves because I haven’t had them in the house while making it, I hope to do so this year.  When you first taste the chrain, it will seem very sharp but it loses most of its oomph after a few days.  This recipe literally makes enough for a whole year and freezes beautifully!


11 lbs beets

4-5 lbs horseradish (she actually uses double this amount but this is strong enough for me!)

3 cups vinegar

2 cups water

15 cloves

6 bay leaves

salt to taste

pepper to taste

sugar to taste (With all the sprinkling, I think I put in at least a cup)


This is the second cooking batch. I didn't have a big enough pot for all the beets at once

1.  Cook beets in water with cloves and bay leaves.  Drain, reserving some liquid.

2.  When cooled, peel and grate the beets on a fine grater.

3.  Peel and grate the horseradish.  Add to the beets along with the vinegar and water. 

4.  Season with salt, pepper and sugar to taste.  Add some of the reserved beet liquid if it seems dry.