Talking about mustard is probably like talking about sex and politics: It will start an argument. However, for a full flavored, grainy style, delicious mustard to be used as a condiment, one of the finest I've tasted is BOETJE. Pronounced "Boat-chee," it is an all natural mustard from Illinois, produced solely from Canadian brown mustard seeds, water, vinegar, sugar and salt. The ingredients are blended, aged in wooden vats, then stone ground to blend all the flavors, and bottled.The company was founded in 1889 by the Boetje family; the current owners are the Kropp family, only the third owners in 113 years. They continue to follow the same Dutch recipe and technique. Well known in the Midwest, Boetje is rarely seen in California or the West. If you like excellent mustard, Boetje is for you. Outdoor eating cries out for forceful flavors. Boetje is perfect in stuffed eggs and sandwiches, with hot dogs and hamburgers, or just with pretzels. A cold roast chicken or ham warm up to Boetje very well. This is not a "designer" mustard. It is just an exceptional one!
Summer time means having pickles to accompany dishes--to lift them up and give them piquancy. In a small plant in the Silverlake district of downtown Los Angeles, the Kruegermann family produces Berlin style pickles as they have since 1896. The original Kruegermann plant was in East Berlin. In California since 1961, the Kruegermann family make a varied range of traditional pickles here in California using the same techniques they did in Berlin.
They have daily delivery of fresh cucumbers and other vegetables from Southern (and Northern) California farms and transform them into what are California's best, but probably, least known pickles. No chemical flavorings or preservatives are used--just fresh produce, herbs, and spices. Stability is achieved with heat.
GURKENTOPF is Helga Kruegermann's specialty. A blend of smallish cucumbers, whole tomatoes and small onions, dill, and other herbs and spices, it comes only in a 64 oz. wide mouth jar. It fits easily in the refrigerator for those occasions when you need a pickle. It also makes a splendid gift. It is my favorite.
GURKENTOPF 64 oz. jarOther specialties are:
SENFGURKEN, a large, hand peeled cucumber in mustard pickle 32 oz jar
UBORKA, a spicy whole cucumber pickle, Hungarian style 32 oz jar
HAUSFRAUENART, a slightly sweet cucumber pickle 32 oz jar
FRISCHGURKEN, fresh cucumbers, Berlin style 32 oz jar
NATURALLY FERMENTED DILLS, in a cloudy brine 32 oz jar
SPICY GARLIC PICKLES, with chile and garlic, Mediterranean style 32 oz jar
ROTE BEETE, sliced fresh beets in a sweet/sour pickle 32 oz jar
MIXED PICKLED SALAD, a julienne of cucumber, carrot, bell pepper, onion; jar brined 32 oz jar
KRAUT SALAD, sauerkraut, carrot, onion, in a slightly sweet Baltic preparation with apple and caraway 22 oz jar
Kruegermann also produces several other products of note. Their sauerkraut is excellent as is the red cabbage, rotekohl, but these are for the fall. Kruegermann pickles can be stored at room temperature, but should be chilled before serving and once opened, should be stored in the refrigerator. They are deliciously simple to enjoy.
A wild plum, unique to the West Coast, called the Modoc or Native Pacific Plum (Prunus subcordata--due to its small heart shape) is found growing wild in the border counties of Lake and Klamath in Oregon and Modoc and Sierra counties in California. The Stringer family of New Pine Creek, Oregon, just across the California/Oregon border harvests this unusual fruit from their 20 acre orchard, the world's largest planting of this normally wild fruit. From it, they produce a range of products: preserves, jam, puree, wine and wine jelly.
The plum variety, which has been known since 1837, has been well described. It grows in thickets, rather than as individual trees as most other plums do and is propagated by its root runners. The area's indigenous peoples used it as a foodstuff, a fact noted early in the area's settling. Luther Burbank, the famed 19th century horticulturalist, used it in his plum hybridizing work, but the varieties he created with it have been lost.
A traditional use of the Pacific Plum is for preserve making. Its tart, snappy flavor and fragrant aroma make it an good choice for preserve and jam making. A spiced preserve is made, flavored with clove and cinnamon. It is delicious as a toast spread, but it can also be used as a condiment for smoked meats. The fairly thick puree is delicious as an ice cream topping, a glaze for pork or ham, or as the basis for a duck plum sauce. The wine jelly is produced from the wine fermented from these plums and pectin. The Wild Plum wine is quite distinctive and the 1988 vintage has a delicious aroma and mellowness with a harmonious sweetness.
Unless you come from Modoc County or southern Oregon, chances of your having tasted this unique Pacific Coast fruit are very few. Even fans of California foodstuffs have probably never seen it unless they visit this remote area. Now, you have only to travel as far as Corti Brothers to get the Stringer Pacific Plum products. The Modoc or Native Pacific Plum, is definitely worth trying. For those who search for unique West Coast taste sensations, here is the rarest.STRINGER'S ORCHARD WILD PLUM PRODUCTS Pure Wild Plum Preserves (whole fruit) 10 oz jar
Spiced Wild Plum Preserves 10 oz jar
Pure Wild Plum Jam (fruit puree) 10 oz jar
Wild Plum Wine Jelly 10 oz jar
Pure Wild Plum Puree 12 oz bottle
1988 vintage Wild Plum Wine 750 ml
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