June 30, 2020
Pickling, Canning, & Preserving Summer's Best
This time of year is heaven in the produce aisle. Summer's generosity is evident—our fruits and vegetables are shining.🌞

During COVID-19 as many of us have planted home victory gardens and have discovered more time in the kitchen, canning and pickling is a natural next step in preparing our food. There is nothing more satisfying than a pantry filled with freshly-canned fruits and veggies, and they are a wonderful reminder of sunny summer days once we find ourselves in the gray winter months. 

What to can?
At the heart of pickling and preserving is fresh, seasonal produce. Think about what you will long for during the winter months. What inspires you? Sunny, yellow peach halves, strawberry preserves, or pickled string beans or beets? Also, pay attention to seasonal cycles. Because when fruits and veggies are in season the prices come down and this is the best time to purchase extra produce for "putting up". 
There are two main canning processes: water bath and pressure canning. However, when working with small batches you may opt for making refrigerator preserves and pickles. No need to go through the canning process if you are opening the jar right away!

A lower-temperature canning process, water bath canning is ideal for high-acid foods and recipes that incorporate the correct measure of acid. The combination of time and temperature destroys mold, yeast, and enzymes that cause spoilage while creating a vacuum seal. This process is recommended for produce and recipes including: fruits and fruit juices, jams and jellies, some salsas, tomatoes, pickles and relishes, chutneys, sauces, pie fillings, vinegars, and many condiments. 

Pressure canning is the only processing method that reaches a high enough temperature to safely preserve low-acid foods. It is the combination of time and temperature that will destroy food-borne bacteria and create a vacuum seal necessary to prevent spoilage. This process is required to preserve foods and recipes like: meats, poultry, some salsas, vegetables, chili, and seafood. 
There are two main types of pickles, those made with vinegar and those that are lacto-fermented (often using whey). Adding enough vinegar kills any bacteria and makes the pickles keep safely for longer. For this reason, we lean towards sharing vinegar-based recipes. You can properly can your pickles so they are shelf-stable. And, when making a smaller batch, we often simply do "refrigerator pickles" that will keep in the fridge about as long as an open jar of pickles…which is quite a while. 

There are infinite resources on the internet for canning, preserving, and pickling. A great starter site is the Ball/Kerr Jar website. Also, the USDA has a thorough website about safe canning and pickling.
We have everything you need for canning and pickling in the store. Our produce aisle is bursting with color and flavor as the summer fruits and veggies arrive. 

We also carry a selection of Kerr Jars and lids (Remember to use new lids when canning!), Fruit-Fresh Produce Protector, to sprinkle on your freshly-cut fruits and veggies to protect the color and flavor. We also have Sure Jell Fruit Pectin Powder and Certo Liquid Pectin for thickening jams and pie fillings. 

When making pickles, check out are wide selection of vinegars including great apple cider vinegars, Katz Sparkling Wine Vinegar, and Katz Late Harvest Zinfandel Vinegar. Getting creative with flavors that you put into your pickles makes it exciting when they come out of the jar. 

And, when it comes to spices, we hands-down recommend Morton & Basset Spices for more dimensional flavor. The spices you choose play a big outcome in everything you prepare. Morton & Bassett provides the best quality, most flavorful spices in the world. And, yes, they are a San Francisco-based company!
A Staff Favorite

The spices you choose play a big outcome in everything you prepare, that is why we recommend Morton & Bassett for more dimensional flavor.

Morton & Bassett Pickling Spice is a traditional spice blend known for pickling meats, vegetables, and relishes. It is great for pickling all kinds of veggies, essential in beef brisket, and delicious for poaching seafood.

Morton & Bassett Pickling Spice contains chilies, coriander, cumin, ginger, black pepper, allspice, bay leaves, cinnamon, brown mustard, cloves, yellow mustard, and turmeric.

We love Morton & Bassett because they provide the best quality, most flavorful spices in the world. In fact, the difference in quality is so pronounced, you can easily see the difference through the glass jars. And, yes, they are a San Francisco-based company, so you know you are buying local.
News & Events

Some of our favorite Piedmont Avenue shops are reopening (with COVID-19 restrictions) and we have put together a partial list that includes all the details. So, spend some time on the Avenue and spread the love. Let's support the health of our local small businesses!

Our list includes details about Bella Ceramica, Blue Door Beads, J. Miller Flowers and Gifts, Maple Street Denim, Nathan & Co., Piedmont Yarn, Resurrect, Spectator Books, and Twisted Thistle Apothicaire.

From our blog, The Kitchen Table

Pick a Peck
Whenever I plant a veggie garden I always include peppers. Bell Peppers are a must-have as are any spicy peppers like jalapeños or Fresnos. Planting peppers presents a problem as they can be as prolific as zucchini under the right conditions. I am a big fan of Thai chilis but anyone who has ever grown them in their garden knows that one plant can produce hundreds of chilis. I mean, I like spicy but that’s a bit too much. So what to do with all those peppers?

Trading with friends, neighbors, and co-workers is always an option—even better if you trade for something they grew that you didn’t. But, sometimes there are still too many. So, I end up preserving them.

You have two options when it comes to preserving peppers. You can make pickled ones quickly in the fridge  like these  or you can roast and can them for use at a later date. Both have their merits, though if you want more versatility as to what you can do with the peppers, roasting is the way to go.

I love preserved roasted peppers. You can use them in sandwiches or in salads. You can chop them up with some tomato for a tasty bruschetta or add them to your favorite pasta dish.

Below is one of my favorite ways to preserve peppers. It comes to us courtesy of Hank Shaw of  Hunter, Angler, Gardener, Cook  and it is one of my favorite resources for pickle recipes as well as other off the beaten path ideas. I like to add a clove of garlic to each jar to add just a little bit more flavor. Definitely check his website out if you are so inclined. In the meantime, if your pepper plant cup runneth over, try this recipe to get things under control…

A Staff Favorite

And, you know what that means…summertime!
Brentwood Corn is picked each day, arriving at our market, fresh—without losing sweetness. The rich, Brentwood agricultural soil and temperate climate of the Delta create perfect growing conditions for high-quality corn on the cob. You can’t get better than this!

Now is the time to indulge—straight off the grill or stovetop with plenty of butter and salt, or try it in one of our favorite recipes:

A Cookbook Recommendation

By Karen Solomon
From authentic Korean kimchi, Indian chutney, and Japanese tsukemono to innovative combinations ranging from mild to delightfully spicy, the time-honored traditions of Asian pickling are made simple and accessible in this DIY guide.

Asian Pickles introduces the unique ingredients and techniques used in Asian pickle-making, including a vast array of quick pickles for the novice pickler, and numerous techniques that take more adventurous cooks beyond the basic brine. With fail-proof instructions, a selection of helpful resources, and more than seventy-five of the most sought-after pickle recipes from the East—Korean Whole Leaf Cabbage Kimchi, Japanese Umeboshi, Chinese Preserved Vegetable, Indian Coconut-Cilantro Chutney, Vietnamese Daikon and Carrot Pickle, and more—Asian Pickles is your passport to explore this region’s preserving possibilities.

I love this book! Karen Solomon has spent years exploring the remarkably varied pickling styles of Asia. This is among the very best books I’ve encountered on pickling, and it goes beyond pickling itself with recipes for foods used in or served with pickles. Karen’s descriptions of technique are clear and crisp, and her personal tone made me feel as if she were whispering encouragement in my ear.
--Sandor Ellix Katz, author of The Art of Fermentation

In this culinary passport to Asia, Karen Solomon helps you discover the delicate flavors and complex spices of pickles you didn’t know existed. A delicious roadmap for pickle lovers everywhere!
--Lauryn Chun, author of The Kimchi Cookbook
News & Events

The holiday we have all been waiting for is here…National Chocolate Pudding Day! So, get out your pudding decorations and trim the pudding tree…this is going to be a good one.

Chocolate pudding has fallen off the comfort food radar. There is nothing chic or trendy about it. But, it doesn't stop being delicious and satisfying. It is easy to make with ingredients you have on hand (that is if you haven't finished the bag of chocolate chips). And, the hardest part is waiting for it to cool.

We definitely recommend making a batch of chocolate pudding soon, and here is a tried and true recipe. We have an old print-out from 1998, but we can no longer find it on the website.

A Staff Favorite

Bragg Apple Cider Vinegar is made from the best, delicious, organically-grown apples and is full of the zesty natural goodness of a raw vinegar. It features the naturally occurring, health-supporting strands of the vinegar "Mother". And, while we love it in our vinaigrettes and salad dressings, it is also great for making pickles.

The flavor of apple cider vinegar is less sharp than that of white vinegar, yielding a pickle that is softer on the palate. It imparts a more mellow flavor that makes it perfect for canning sweeter pickles and peppers (but some of us use it for all our pickles). The slightly fruity flavor of apple cider vinegar can also reduce the need for added sugar.

So, consider trying Bragg in your next pickling project!

From our blog, The Kitchen Table

Giving Thanks for Dad
If there is one thing I know it’s that my family isn’t normal. From the outside looking in, we may seem like your typical family of five. But, in reality, we are more than a few degrees off-center. The following is the most recent example.

Like most other families during the shelter-in-place order, we have been spending more time outside enjoying our backyard. The more we were out there the more it became obvious that our backyard space was in need of some serious help. So for the last month, that’s what we have been doing—little by little. It started with a fire pit that the family gave me as a birthday present. And, quickly turned into a much larger home improvement project culminating in the building of an outdoor bar.

The bar happened because we were sitting around the fire pit one night and I got thirsty. I mentioned that it would be cool to have a bar outside ‘cause I was feeling lazy and having to walk to the kitchen was just too far. This is where things got kinda nutty. Ideas and possible designs were thrown out for consideration. The kids were in on it, too. (I know. Great parenting. The kids are designing a bar. At least they learned some rough carpentry skills. That’s good, right?) Everything came together when I remembered the Mexican tiles and sink we had sitting in the garage.

Seventeen years ago I was pregnant with twins and my husband and I, knowing things were never going to be the same again, went on a vacation to Peurto Vallarta as the last hurrah before the boys showed up. While we were there we found a tile shop downtown that was filled with the most amazing Talavera tiles and sinks. I forced my husband to haul a sink and about 40 tiles home on the plane in a backpack with the idea that we would use them in the bathroom of our new house. That never happened.

They sat in the garage until we moved into our current house ten years ago where they sat in the garage again until last month.
Long story (sort of) short, the tiles and sink are now part of a lovely and very sturdy (my love has a tendency to over-engineer) outdoor bar that looks like a Mexican cantina complete with a palm roof. The plan was to get it done by Father’s Day and we did. Naturally, I assumed we would be toasting Dad and breaking in the new bar with tacos and margaritas. I was wrong. So, so wrong.

When asked what he wanted to have for his Father’s Day feast my husband declared that he wanted his favorite dinner in the world, Thanksgiving. In June. In 90 degree heat. Do you know how hard it is to find Thanksgiving stuff in June? During a pandemic?

The turkey was the easiest part. I roasted two turkey breasts, mashed some potatoes, and baked the stuffing outside of the bird. We even had pecan pie thanks to my daughter. My sister, the smart one, was in charge of the green beans and made something that was more in line with the weather and the time of year. She got a bunch of green beans, steamed them, and dunked them in cold water to stop the cooking and keep them crunchy. She then dried them off and spread them on a platter, scattered some sliced cherry tomatoes around, and topped them off with a tasty Pine Nut Vinaigrette. It was the perfect way to cut all of the richness and carbs of Thanksgiving in June. In our Mexican cantina…

News & Events

Piedmont Grocery's Hours have been updated and the store will be open once again on Thursdays beginning June 18th. We will keep you informed of any new hours as the shelter-in-place situation unfolds.

New hours 
  • Temporary new business hours are daily from 10 AM to 8 PM.
  • Special shopping hour for people 65 and over from 9 AM to 10 AM every morning.

Stay tuned for updates as the situation changes. And, thank you for your continued support and patience during these unprecedented times.
From our blog, The Cocktail Post

This is one of those recipes that you need to start a week ahead, but it is oh-so-worth the planning! We recommend you infuse the rum this weekend so you can enjoy the cocktail over the 4th of July holiday weekend. And, having some strawberry-infused rum in the fridge does not sound like a bad thing. We bet it will inspire other uses.

News & Events

We keep hearing over and over again how important getting outside into nature is for both our mental and physical health. And, it has been hard these past few months for those of us who don't live practically adjacent to a park. Well, now the parking lost are mostly open in the East Bay Regional Parks District and we are being encouraged to visit the parks while maintaining safe COVID-19 protocols. Current state and local Stay-at-Home orders allow for outdoor recreation activities as an “essential activity” as long as social distancing requirements are followed.

Parking lots and trails are largely available for use. However, all Visitor Centers, water fountains, picnic areas, swim facilities and areas, boat ramps, playgrounds, horse stables, sports fields, campgrounds, group campsites, backcountry campsites, kiosks, and reservable facilities are closed during the pandemic.

To limit unsafe overcrowding and maintain social distancing, the Park District has temporarily closed some parks, parking lots, and staging areas until further notice. However, most parks and trails remain accessible for walking, hiking, biking, and horseback riding.

Please observe these rules:
  • Keep the 6-foot distance
  • Wear face masks
  • Keep dogs on leash at all times (Except Pt. Isabel)
  • Pack your trash out and dispose of it at home
And, mostly enjoy your time connecting with Mother Nature!

From our blog, The Kitchen Table

Sunday Morning Hazards
Sometimes my mouth gets me in trouble. Sometimes I agree to things without thinking. Sometimes it’s worth it.

Last Sunday morning, we were couch-surfing after a tasty French toast breakfast and the Pioneer Woman was on the TV (because the Food Network is always my daughter’s first choice unless any of the Harry Potter movies are on). I wasn’t really paying attention but I had a vague idea that it was on in the background. Our plans that day revolved around a woodwork project for the back patio so I was trying to figure out my plan of attack. It was then that I heard my husband announce to the room” I want that for dinner!” and I stopped everything that I was doing to take a look.

It is rare that a member of my family tells me exactly what they want to eat without any prompting from me. Usually, there is a lot of back and forth about what sounds good? What do we have in the fridge? Etc..So when someone says I want that, it’s kind of a big deal. I said yes without hesitation. I was already planning on going to the store anyway so no biggie…right?

This, of course, was all before I spent the next 6 hours crouched down staining two by fours in the sun. When we finished our project and it was time for dinner I was less enthusiastic about our dinner plans and promises I made. Thankfully the recipe came together easily and went well with the pork chops I threw on the grill. Even better it made enough to cover lunch the next day. (This recipe actually makes a lot. It would be perfect for a potluck…when we can do that again!) In fact, it was even better the next day.

I wasn’t better the next day. I was walking like the tin man….

Pickling and Preserving Recipes from Our Archives
From our blog, The Kitchen Table

We have scoured our recipe archive for our favorites for canning and pickling—everything from savory to sweet. Some of these recipes are best stored in the fridge or freezer, while others can be properly canned and "put up" for the winter. We hope you enjoy them!

Often called kosher-style dill pickles, these are quick to make. Use either small whole cucumbers or cut larger ones into quarters. For an additional interesting flavor, tuck a small dried hot red pepper into each jar (which I definitely recommend).

Pickled apples are tart, tangy, sweet, and a bit sour all at the same. They are a perfect pop of flavor to add to salads, layer into sandwiches, and as an addition to charcuterie and cheese boards.

If you find yourself up to your ears in squash, try making these Zucchini Pickles that are adapted from the Zuni Café Cookbook. These Zucchini Pickles they make for a nice change from the usual summertime backyard dill pickles. It’s nice to have choices…

These pickles are excellent when made with both cucumbers or zucchini which means you will always have a way to handle an over-producing garden. We like to add a dried chili in there for a little extra kick….
Jams, Jellies, and Preserves
This old-fashion blackberry jam recipe is delicious on toast with butter. 

Freezer jam is great and you can do it if you find a free hour. This is especially yummy when you spoon it on warm, fresh biscuits.

A classic recipe with a flavorful twist.

This recipe makes a fresh, spreadable, strawberry substance that could be just as well eaten with a spoon. It is great on breakfast toast, over ice cream, stirred into and yogurt.

A delicious bacon spread adapted from the blog, The Homesick Texan.

Onion marmalade is great with blue cheeses and cold cooked meats, poultry, pates and terrines.
This is a favorite recipe for applesauce from Alice Waters’ cookbook Chez Panisse Fruit––which is an incredible book, by the way. There couldn’t be an easier recipe.

Simply the best apple chutney!

Apple pickle is not uncommon in Indian food, and adds wonderful flavor. Plus, it’s pretty exciting to make these if only to get a break from the sweet side of apples…

A Few More Favorites
By far our favorite preserved lemons recipe. Try it in our recipe for Canal House Style Chicken Thighs with Lemon .

You might have to wait till fall to get fresh cranberries in the market. But, definitely save this recipe for when you do. 

Preserved lemons and tomatoes are an addictive combination! This is a daily stand-by throughout the tomato season. We usually roast our own red bell peppers.
From The Butcher's Block

If anything is true these days it’s that our shopping habits have been thrown totally off-kilter. It’s no longer logistically feasible to go to the store multiple times a week especially when you get there and they may or may not have what you are looking for. And when you’re trying to not go out too much, a once-a-week “big shopping trip” is necessary. Using your freezer to store food becomes essential rather than just convenient.

I think most people would agree that cooking food, especially meat, that is fresh is better. But, if you take the time to protect whatever you plan to freeze the results can be almost indistinguishable. So how do you do that? What’s the best way to store meat in the freezer?

The key to freezing meat is to make sure that there is little to air that can get in and spoil the meat. You can do this in a few ways.
If you have the opportunity and/or space for a vacuum food sealer it can be life-changing. Vacuum sealing meats, veggies, or fruits can ensure you have fresh-tasting food always on hand. Pandemic or not, it can be a real time saver when you can't stop to pick something up at the store for dinner. The devices themselves are reasonably affordable depending on the make and model. But, the refill bags and rolls can be pricey if you are using them a lot. When you consider that sealed and frozen meat can last up to 6 months with no issues, the benefits might just outweigh the negatives.

If you don’t have the luxury of a vacuum sealer, you will need to wrap your purchases making sure that as little air can get in as possible. Here are two ways that work for me. Although, you can find various opinions and possibilities out there on the web.

From our blog, The Cocktail Post

The Jungle Bird Cocktail is a classic Tiki drink that was created in 1978 at the Aviary bar of the Kuala Lumpur Hilton.

Rum, pineapple, and lime are typical in tiki cocktails, but Campari is definitely a new ingredient. Usually reserved for dry drinks like the Negroni, the bitter aperitif works surprisingly well in this mix. The fruits help smooth out its bitterness while the dark rum and simple syrup bring in a touch of sweetness to bring it all together beautifully.

Vendor of the Month

For the Love of Local Barbecue
With Barbecue season finally here, we keep turning to Oakland Dust for amazing flavor. Oakland Dust creates hand-crafted, locally-inspired spice rubs for all your favorite foods. These unique blends add flavor to all your dishes.

Try dusting on popcorn, roasted veggies, salads, pulled pork, and naturally…your barbecue.

Lloyd Ross is the founder of Oakland Dust, was born and bred in Oakland, and still lives here today. “I created Oakland Dust for my love of food and for the city I proudly call home,” he said.

Oakland dust rubs come in seven deliciously-blended flavors and four BBQ sauces.

510 Spicy Steak Rub, Beef Rub, Chili Lime All-Purpose Rub, Curry All Purpose Rub, Pork Rub, Poultry Rub, and Seafood Rub.

BBQ Sauces
The ONE BBQ Sauce, The ONE Hot BBQ Sauce, Oakland Gold,and Hog Sauce for BBQ and Dipping.

Temporary Store Hours During Shelter-in-Place
Daily from
10 AM to 8 PM

Special shopping hour for seniors
9 AM to 10 AM

Closed Thursdays

We will update you with any new hours as the shelter-in-place situation unfolds.

Free Parking 

4038 Piedmont Ave.
Oakland, CA 94611

(510) 653-8181

Visit our recipe blog to learn what Amy, our VP and resident foodie, is cooking up in her home kitchen.