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There is nothing better than your own homemade pickles and chutneys to have over the Christmas period with all the cold meats and crusty bread or indeed at any time of the year. I hope you will feel inspired to pickle your own later in the year as the vegetables become available.
Firstly you need to make some pickling vinegar. Yes I know you can buy a gallon of vinegar already pickled but it really is not as tasty and also your pickled onions tend to go all soft in the centre and that does not taste very nice at all I'm sure you will agree.
4 pints malt or white vinegar, 10 cloves, 2 tablespoons coriander seeds, 1 tablespoon mustard seeds, 5 dried red chillies 2 teaspoons whole black peppercorns, 1 cinnamon stick, 1-tablespoon brown sugar.
Place all of the ingredients in a saucepan. Cover the saucepan and simmer gently for 15 minutes. Allow to cool completely. Strain the liquid and bottle for later use.
Pickling Tip 1
Never use iron, copper or brass saucepans to boil your vinegar as these will cause an unwanted metallurgic reaction with the vinegar. Use jars with plastic or glass lids instead of metal,
Now my second recipe is for Beetroot. It can taste fantastic if you pickle it yourself and has a nice sweet taste. Many people eat my beetroot but not the shop bought versions as they don't like them at all
Wash the beetroots being very careful not to break the skin. Trim the leaves but do not cut back too far into the flesh. Cut off the root to leave a tiny tail. Place in enough boiling salted water to cover the roots properly. Simmer gently for about an hour and a half . When fully cooked, a knife should sink into the flesh easily.
Allow the beetroots to cool, then remove the skin and top and tail. Cut the beetroot into rounds as thin or thick as you like depending on your preference. Place the rounds in your jars and cover with the pickled vinegar.
Pickling tip 2
Cleanliness is very important so make sure that the jars are very clean before you use them. If you wash the jars first and then place the jars wet into a 200C oven oven for abot 20 minutes after washing this will make sure they are steralised. You can also use your microwave for steralising but consult your manual for times and temperatures.
Pickled Onions 3lb of pickling onions 2oz salt Sterilised wide necked jars Pickling vinegar Method Peel your onions and place them into a large bowl. Sprinkle with the 2oz salt, cover the bowl and leave overnight. Rinse the onions well and then pat dry. Pack into your sterilised jars and pour over the spiced vinegar ensuring that your onions are completely covered. Make sure no air bubbles are trapped before you seal your containers. Seal and store in a cool dark place for at least four weeks before trying them. These will keep for at least six months as long as the seal is not broken.
Pickling tip 3
If you want to use a jar straight away you can keep it in the fridge. If you want to keep it for many months you would be better using proper pickling jars.
Vegetables suitable for pickling are beetroot, shallots, cabbage, cauliflower, baby cucumber, sliced onions, peas, red cabbage, aubergine and green walnuts,
Depending on how crunchy you like your vegetables boil for 3-5 minutes and then place in layers into your sterilised jars before pouring over your pickling vinegar.
Pickling tip 4
The best flavours come from malt vinegar but eggs should be put with white vinegar. Make sure your eggs are really hard boiled otherwise you just end up with milky vinegar and bits dropping off the eggs all the time.
Cook beans with onions in salted water. Strain off all the water and chop the vegetables more or mince to the texture you like. Put them back into the pan with 1 pint vinegar, bring back to simmer. Add 1lb of the sugar at first, adding more if liked. Mix the spices with the rest of the vinegar and stir into the mixture, then simmer until it thickens. Allow to cook for 20 minutes. Taste and add more sugar if liked or more spices and cook again. Bottle up straight away, ready to eat.
This is a lovely recipe and used by the WI who sell the chutney on their stalls. It is a sweet chutney and a good way to use up the glut of runner beans you may have growing in your garden in the summer.
Look closely at the photos as yo may get a surprise. Nan