As Pickles are so easy to make it is surprising that it is almost a lost art. Towards the Autumn, you often find that there is a glut of some vegetables, and you want a way of storing some of them. Pickling is the process of simmering the prepared vegetables to kill off bacteria and neutralize enzymes, in a mixture of Vinegar, Sugar and Spices. The Vinegar provides a strongly acidic liquid, which prevents the further growth of bacteria.
Most vegetables can be pickled. Some recipes that I have seen, call for sprinkling the vegetables with a lot of salt, to draw out some of the vegetable juices. Then the salt has to be washed off which can be easier said than done. I prefer to do without adding salt.
Vegetables should be prepared by washing, peeling as necessary, and cutting into suitable sizes.
Wine or Cider Vinegar should be used as it is not as harsh as Malt Vinegar. After all, it is only a few pennies more, but the taste of the end product is far superior. Use red wine vinegar for beetroot.
Glass jars should have a plastic, leak proof coating on the inside of the lid to prevent corrosion. Reuse your glass Jars, provided they have undamaged metal lids with the plastic coating on the inside. To check how many jars you will require for a batch of pickled vegetables, prepare the vegetables and then fill enough jars with the cold vegetables which will give you the number of jars required.
All jars must be sterilized and hot, before use. The hot jars are tightly packed with the cooked vegetables and then filled to overflowing with the boiling vinegar liquid. The lids are screwed tight, and the sticky overflow liquid is washed off with hot water. The lid may need re-tightened as the jar cools down. Label and date.
Any jars that do not seal properly or show signs of leakage, should be binned to avoid any health issues.
Once a jar has been opened for use, it should be stored in the fridge. If the jar is difficult to open, pour hot water over the metal lid until it expands and will open easily. If this fails, gently heat the jar in a pan filled with water, which will increase the pressure inside the jar.
Beetroot Pickle with spices. This is the most popular pickle on allotments, and will make a very acceptable Christmas Present for friends. Boil the Beetroot until cooked and soft, and skin enough Beetroot to fill your jars, retaining some of the strained cooking water. The Beetroot are cut into 1 cm slices, and put into a large stainless steel pan. 1 cup of sugar, plus 1 cup of the strained cooking water, plus 2 cups of red wine Vinegar (500 ml ), plus a selection of pickling spices such as cloves, cinnamon, star anise, juniper berries to a total of 1 tbsp, are added to the pan. Bring to the boil and simmer for 10 minutes. The jars are filled to overflowing, as described above.
Cucumber Pickle with Dill. Put 1/2 litre of water, 1/2 litre of white wine vinegar, 4 peppercorns, 4 cloves garlic into a stainless steel pan and bring to the boil. Meanwhile prepare 1 kilo of 10 cm long Cucumbers, by skewering all over, and add to the boiling liquid, together with 2 handfuls of fresh Dill, for 2 minutes. Fill the jars to overflowing as above.
Courgette Pickle. Put 2 cups (1/2 l) white wine vinegar, 3.5 cups of sugar, 1 tsp of celery seed, 1 tsp of mustard seed, into a stainless steel pan and bring to the boil. Add 8 cups of sliced Courgettes, 2 cups sliced onions, 1 cup sliced peppers and simmer for 10 minutes. The jars are filled to overflowing as previously described.
Mixed Spiced Vegetable Pickle. This can be made with whatever vegetables you have available. You could use garlic, onions, shallots, peppers, yellow courgettes, green courgettes and bulb fennel, for a multi-coloured mixture. Put the spices( 5 juniper berries, 5 cloves, sprinkle of fennel seeds, caraway seeds, ginger or as available) plus 2 cups (1/2 l) vinegar, 1 cup sugar, in a stainless steel pan, and bring to the boil. Prepare the other vegetables into bite sized slices or wedges, and add them, except the courgette, to the pan and cook for 10 minutes. Add the courgette for the last 2 or 3 minutes. Then fill the jars to overflowing as previously described.
Mange-tout or snap Pea Pickle. Top and tail the pea pods, removing the stringy bits, and plunge into boiling water for 5 minutes, then into cold water, and drain. Boil the same mixture as for the mixed pickle for 5 minutes. Fill the hot jars with the previously prepared pea pods, and fill to overfilling with the pickling mixture, as before.
Nasturtium Caper ( seedpods ) Pickles. Put 1 cup or white vinegar, 1 tbs of salt, 1 tbs of sugar, 1 bay leaf, 4 black peppercorns, 4 cloves, grated horseradish to taste, into a stainless steel pan and bring to the boil. Simmer for 5 minutes, add the capers and simmer for 2 minutes. Fill the hot jar with the capers and fill to overflowing as before.
Red Cabbage and Onion Pickle. Prepare about 1 Kg of red cabbage, into slices, and 1/4 Kg of sliced onions. Put 2 cups ( 1/2 lt ) of vinegar, 1/2 cup water, 1/2 cup sugar, with 4 each of cloves, black peppercorns, allspice berries, into a large stainless steel pan, and bring to boil. Add the cabbage and onions and simmer for 5 minutes. Pack the vegetables into the jars, and fill to overflowing as before.
Chutneys are also fairly easy to make, but take a little longer cooking time. Again, they are useful for using up gluts of vegetables and fruits in the Autumn.
Tomato Chutney. Cut up 1 Kg tomatoes, 250 g peeled and cored green apples, 3 peeled garlic cloves, and 2 onions. Put into large stainless steel pan and add 1 cup cider vinegar, 1 cup brown sugar, 1/2 tbs mustard, 1 tbs salt, 1/2 tbs ground ginger, 1/4 tsp ground cloves and 2 bay leaves. Boil uncovered for 1 hour and put into hot sterilised jars with screw plastic coated metal lids.
Green tomato chutney. Cut up 1 Kg green tomatoes, 250 gm of onions, and put into stainless steel pan, along with 125 gm sultanas. Add 1 cup of cider vinegar and 250 gm of white sugar, together with 1 tsp of mustard seeds, 1/2 tsp allspice, 1/2 tsp of salt. Cook for 1 hour uncovered and put into hot sterilised jars with screw coated metal lids.
Courgette and apple chutney. Slice 750 gm of courgettes, 750 gm of peeled and cored apples, 250 gm of sliced onions, and place in large stainless steel pan. Add 350 gm sugar, 1 lt white vinegar, 1 tsp mustard, I tsp ground ginger, 1/2 tsp ground pepper, 1/2 tsp of salt, and the juice of 1/2 lemon. Cook uncovered for 1 hour and put into hot sterilised jars with screw plastic coated metal lids.
Approximate Conversion Table
50 g = 2 oz
100 g = 4 oz
150 g = 6 oz
225 g = 8 oz
450 g = 16 oz or 1 lb
30 ml = 1 fl oz
60 ml = 2 fl oz
140 ml = 1/4 pt
285 ml = 1/2 pt
570 ml = 1 pt.
1.15 lt = 2 pt
1 tsp = 5 cc
1 tbsp = 15 cc