Jul 23 2004

pickling vegetables

Picklesveg2

It never ceases to surprise me how simple it is to pickle vegetables. The real trick as with all food is to use really fresh produce; young fresh vegetables, good quality white wine or cider vinegar. Buy freshly prepared >strong>spices, not ones that have been sitting on the shelf since last year!. A really good airtight seal on all jars is also essential..

Chop courgette, cauliflower, peppers, celery, onion into even size pieces, leave baby carrots whole. Trim spring onions (scallions) into even lengths. Place all the prepared vegetables into glass or plastic bowl (not metal). Sprinkle with salt, mix well and cover with a cloth. Leave in a cool place overnight. I put the bowl into the refrigerator. The following day drain and rinse well in running water. Drain again thoroughly. Next make the spiced vinegar. To a litre of vinegar add 500gms soft brown sugar, 2tsp ground turmeric, 1 tbsp mustard seed and any other spice which takes your fancy. I always add a couple of dried chillies, a piece of fresh ginger and several cloves of garlic. It’s a question of taste. Slowly bring the vinegar to the boil and boil rapidly for 10 minutes. Add the strained vegetables, return to the boil and remove from the heat. Pack the pickle into hot sterilised jars and seal.

Use exactly the same principle for Piccallili but add 400grams of coarsely ground mustard seed to the salted and rinsed vegetables. Add a large tablespoon of turmeric to the spiced vinegar. Proceed as above.

The possibilities are endless and delicious. In a week or so I will be adding jars of pickled beetroot, green tomatoes and little onions to my store cupboard.

I may make Chou-chow too, in a day or two. The principle is similar. Vegetables are chopped and salted and left over night. Next day I will rinse and blanch them in boiling water for two minutes. They will be refreshed in cold water before being drained again thoroughly. To make the pickling mixture I will combine 100 grms flour, 75 grms mustard powder, 1½ tbsp celery seeds and 1½ tbsp turmeric in a bowl with 1 tbsp salt. I’ll mix this well before adding 250 ml wine vinegar to make a thin paste. Next I will bring 1 litre of vinegar to the boil with 300grms brown sugar and slowly stir in the mustard paste. Then in go the drained vegetables which are allowed to come up to the boil, removed from the heat and packed into hot sterilised jars. Once again the seal is all important.

Roastveg2

Roasted vegetables freeze well too. Red and yellow peppers, courgette, red onion, tomatoes, garlic and shallot, all evenly cut up, are tossed in really good olive oil, sprinkled with salt and pepper and roasted in a hot oven till a tiny bit singed on the edge. Once cool I put them in foil trays with lids and freeze them for the winter. Courgettes alone are good too with lots of dried herbs mixed with the olive oil.

When the green beans are in abundance some will get eaten at once, some will find their way to the deep freeze and I will salt or pickle the rest. Nothing goes to waste. The chickens even eat the trimmings!

My favourite store cupboard book is Preserving by Oded Schwartz.

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