I decided to make my own Giardiniera to go with my over the top Italian Beef Sandwich. If you're going to make the world's greatest Italian Beef Sandwich you might as well compliment it with an amazing Giardiniera. This is my version but you could use any variety of veggies that you want. I have come across many versions and varieties over the years so just use your imagination and create what you believe will taste over the top. When I do make Giardiniera it's never the same because like I to swapped out several veggies with others and change things up. My Giardiniera is constantly evolving. This recipe is a good staring point for anyone.
Here is an example of veggies cut up and the marinated garlic. I prefer my marinated garlic chunky and I cut it as such. Remember marinated garlic is very mild in comparison to fresh. For the Giardiniera I would cut the marinated garlic cloves in half or in quarters. Again they are very mild!!! If you want you can also add fresh garlic but since they are not marinated they will have a stronger flavor and I would cut them much smaller. I would probably cut them into slivers instead of chunks or slices. More about how to make marinated garlic below.
Here is a pic of sweet peppers. These babies are way better than bell peppers. Again you can use any pepper you want, hot, sweet or just a medley of peppers.
Here's one version of my Giardiniera
- 125 g of sliced carrots
- 125 g of sliced celery
- 125 g of seeded and sliced Jalapeno or Serrano peppers or a combination of different peppers
- 150 g of sliced sweet peppers
- 140 g pickled double stuff garlic and Jalapeno olives (Sliced)
- 300 g of Cauliflower (make sure they are very tiny florets)
- 300 g Pearl Onions (I love these little guys)
- 200 g of Marinated or of 100 g raw Garlic
- 200 g Julienned Sundried Tom packed in Olive Oil
- 4 grams of finely ground pepper
- 100 grams of Salt
- 2 g of Bail
- 2 g Oregano
- 6 g Crushed Red Pepper (or more)
- 2-4 grams of granulated garlic unless of course you used fresh garlic instead of marinated garlic.
- Lots of Vinegar White, Champagne or which ever you prefer.
- Olive Oil
Note: Olive Oil will solidify in the refrigerator but Canola won't. If flavor is important to you use Olive oil or a combination of both. If you do not want the Giadiniera to solidify in the refrigerator use Canola oil.
Let's put it all together. It's not my intention to give you a lesson on canning or Botulism but it becomes a threat when you mix veggies in oil or a combo of vinegar and oil and it's not kept at the correct refrigerated temps or the proper PH. Of course you want to a avoid the danger zone (40-140 degrees). All this can be mitigated if the Ph is below 4.6. Note: there are reports that botulism can still grow at low refrigerator temps but just at a much slower rate.
Yes you can toss everything above into a bottle and refrigerate and the chances are it will be fine. Of course you can mitigate some of these concerns by adding vinegar which is part of the recipe and vinegar tastes great too (I am ultra paranoid about Food contamination). Vinegar (or citric acid, citrus etc) is the key to lowering the PH of food that makes it safer to consume and improves shelf life. The reason high acid levels are needed is to prevent the germination of Botulism spores into the Botulism toxin. The Botulism spores can only develop into the Botulism toxin in low acid, oxygen free environments.
When you think about Ph and boiling it's normally associated with canning. Although we are not canning here (an option of course) I want to prepare this Giardiniera as if we were to mitigate any potential harmful organisms that could find its way into my food.
When you preserve something in a boiling water bath canner, you heat the jars and their contents to the boiling point. That heat is enough to kill off the microorganisms that can cause spoilage, mold and fermentation, and or other nasty stuff but it's not enough to kill botulism spores. If the Ph of the food you are canning or storing is below 4.6 you are good to go. My Giardiniera could be caned safely because I do everything as if I was going to Cann. So with that I prefer the Hot Pack method even though I will not be canning. Hot packing is the practice of heating freshly prepared food to boiling (not a vigorous boil), simmering it for 2-5 minutes and promptly filling jars. I do everything but the canning process but if I wanted to I could because the Ph is below 4.6. How do I know it is??? I a have Ph. meter.
Cut Up all the veggies and place in a colander. Of course this does not include the pickled double stuff garlic and Jalapeno olives, or the Julienned Sundried Tom packed in Olive Oil. If you're using marinated garlic this too is not included. Anyhow after they're all cut up place in colander over large bowl.
Evenly coat veggies with salt and let drain for 6-12 hours. This will help draw out excess moisture. If you have a cool place to set the bowl don't worry about about refrigerating them. After the elapsed time rinse the veggies thoroughly under cold water.
Now toss everything in a large bowl. Now we need to figure about how much Vinegar and Olive oil to add. The goal is to have everything submerged at least one inch below the surface. We are going to use the displacement method to calculate the volume needed to accomplish this. Fill the bowl up with water containing the veggies and all the other ingredients (except the spices, herbs , salt , and pepper) at least one inch above the veggie line. Drain water into large measuring container and note the volume. This is the amount of liquid you need to cover the veggies.
Now here is the tricky part for calculating the Vinegar to Olive oil ratio. My goal is to keep the Ph below 4.6 to keep everything safe so the question is how much Vinegar to Olive oil should we use? Based on my Calculations the volume of Olive oil cannot exceed 55% of the total volume. At 55% the Ph will be below 4.3. Better safe than sorry. Personally I like about 25-30% of olive oil and the rest Vinegar. Here is an example....To calculate how much Olive oil is needed for a known Volume multiply that % by the total volume needed. I.E if the total Volume needed is 350 ml and you want 30% of it to be Olive oil you would multiply 350 * 30% = 105 ml of Olive Oil. You would than subtract 350 from 105 to calculate the needed Vinegar. 350 -105 = 245 ml of Vinegar.
Now that you have figured out how much Vinegar and Olive oil you need it's time to sterilize and prepare the Giardiniera. Take all the above ingredients and place in sauce pan big enough to hold it all. Bring the saucepan to a light boil/simmer and simmer for 3-5 minutes. This will kill all the nasty stuff and since we know the Ph is way below 4.6 we don't need to worry about Botulism either.....mission accomplished. My suggestion is to transfer the Giardiniera to a storage container and cool rapidly.
From the Colorado State University
Herbs- and garlic- in oil mixtures are considered potentially hazardous food items by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) because of the large number of cases of botulism that have been traced to improperly stored commercial and home-prepared mixtures of garlic and oil. Short refrigerated or frozen storage is necessary because all other conditions that favor growth of are met: low acid environment with pH higher than 4.6, anaerobic conditions (oil), food and moisture source (garlic), not boiled before eating.
For added safety, the FDA now requires that all commercial garlic in oil products contain specific levels of microbial inhibitors or acidifying agents such as phosphoric or citric acid. Although most garlic products do contain these additives, some boutique or specialty mixes may not. Always check the label to be sure.
As for home-prepared mixtures of garlic in oil, the FDA recommends that these “be made fresh for use and not left at room temperatures.” Any leftovers should be refrigerated for use within three days, frozen for longer storage, or discarded.
The reason for the concern is that unrefrigerated garlic in oil mixtures lacking antimicrobial agents have been shown to permit the growth of bacteria and its toxins, affecting the taste or smell of the products. Toxin production has been known to occur even when a small number of spores were present in the garlic. When the spore-containing garlic is bottled and covered with oil, an oxygen-free environment is created that promotes the germination of spores and the growth of microorganisms at temperatures as low as 50 F.
Botulism is a potentially fatal food poisoning characterized by blurred or double vision, speech and breathing difficulty, and progressive paralysis. Without prompt and correct treatment, one-third of those diagnosed with botulism may die. spores are widespread in the environment but cause no harm as long as oxygen is present. Also, the toxin produced by bacteria is readily destroyed by heat. Boiling a potentially suspect mixture for 10 minutes, plus one minute for each 1,000 feet above sea level, will destroy any botulism toxin that may be present.
Several cases of botulism have been associated with home-prepared vegetables and herbs stored in oil. These products also should be made fresh, with leftovers refrigerated for use within 3 days, or frozen for longer storage. Vegetables have a high water activity level which further encourages the growth of bacteria in an anaerobic environment. Even when dried, there is still the potential for risk, unless the vegetable has been acidified to a pH of 4.6 or lower.
Dried tomatoes in oil are less of a safety concern than other mixtures in oil because the pH of tomatoes is generally 4.6 or lower. In addition, by sufficiently drying the tomatoes, conditions become even less favorable to growth of due to a decrease in water activity. Dried herbs in oil also are less of a safety concern because of their low water activity. However, to ensure safety, it is recommended that all tomato in oil and herb in oil products be stored at refrigerator temperatures and used within three days. If longer storage is desired, these products should be frozen in meal sized portions.
In addition to reducing the potential for growth of bacteria, storing flavored oils in the refrigerator or freezer helps keep the oils from becoming rancid. A putrid “off ” odor indicates the development of rancidity. All fats and oils will become rancid given enough exposure to air, sunlight and heat. Polyunsaturated fats, like vegetable oils, are especially prone to such deterioration. Eating rancid food won’t make you sick, but it may be unhealthy in the long run. Rancid fat contains chemicals called peroxides and aldehydes that can damage cells and may even encourage cholesterol to clog arteries.
It is important to note that rancidity and the presence of botulism toxins are not necessarily related. Toxins may be present without any hint of an off-odor. Likewise, an off-odor does not necessarily indicate the presence of botulism toxin. It does, however, indicate the product may have been left for long periods at room temperature, which would promote the growth of . Therefore, it’s best to discard any oil-based mixtures that have become rancid so they’re out of the reach of humans or animals.
Nummer, B.A., Schaffner, D.W., Fraser, A.M. and Andress, E.L. 2011. Current food safety issues of home-prepared vegetables and herbs stored in oil. Food Protection Trends 31:(6) 336-342.
Simonne, A. 2010. Herbs and garlic-in-oil mixtures: Safe handling practices for consumers. FCS8743. University of Florida Extension, Gainesville, FL.
Andress, E.L. and Harrison, J.A. 2000. Preserving Food: Flavored Vinegars. FDNS-E-1. University of Georgia Cooperative Extension Service, Athens, GA.