1986 Lettuce preserves with ginger*

Varen’e iz salata s imbirem


Gather very thick lettuce stalks. They absolutely must be very young so that they are crisp and are not at all woody. Scald them with boiling water, peel, and cut into small pieces. Sprinkle thoroughly with grated ginger so that all the pieces are covered and set on ice for 3 days. Remove, wash, and rinse in pure water. Boil like ordinary preserves, adding for each lb of sugar 1 sliced root of white ginger to cook with the jam. After cooking, remove the pieces of ginger. This jam will resemble imported ginger jam. If the syrup becomes watery, pour it off and recook it with more sugar. Pour over the jam when cool.

For every lb of lettuce, use 1 lb sugar, ½ glass water, 2 spoons of ground ginger, and a piece of whole ginger.

*According to Pokhlebkin, Russians first adopted the Tartar practice of preserving root vegetables with honey (and later sugar) in the seventeenth century following the Russian acquisition of the khanates of Astrakhan, Kazan, and Siberia under Ivan the Terrible. (Pokhlebkin, Natsional’nye kukhni, 9.) This date seems late, but one must be careful to distinguish between the adoption of a particular technique in a given cuisine and the known use of the technique in other cultures. Certainly honey was known as a preservative in the ancient world. Greek physicians valued its medicinal properties and the Romans used honey extensively in their cooking, even for seasoning and preserving lettuce and root vegetables, a practice that was continued in medieval England. (Wilson, Food and Drink in Britain, 278; Edwards, The Roman Cookery of Apicius, 10; and Curye on Inglysch, 120–121.) Barbara Wheaton brought to my attention the fact that La Varenne was already preserving lettuce stalks in sugar in France in the 1650s, which is the same period that the Tartar preserves reputedly were introduced to Russian cuisine. (La Varenne, Le Cuisinier françois, 491.)