So even though it's still technically summer I am already feeling the urge to get into the kitchen and start pickling. It's the same every year, some thing I guess I owe to my post war childhood when the end of summer signalled a round of preserving that filled the house with the smell of vinegar for months.
There really is no need for any of us to make our own pickles and chutneys these days and folk that sell on Farmer's Markets are only to happy to shift their preserves. But as with much home cooked food, not all, you didn't meet my mother-in-law, home made is best.
I find no difficulty in passing over jam making as I have almost no sweet tooth but pickles really appeal.
I was at the Red Market in Shoreditch , before it was closed down, and was trying out Piccalilli at Tom Dixon's Shorditch Smoke stand. One was made to my recipe and one he got from a friend who used some whole spices and fresh chilli so I though to adapt mine and update it.
The Farmer's market yielded fresh veg and so today I'm back in the pickling swing.
1 medium cauliflower cut into tine florets
2 medium courgettes chopped into 1cm cubes
3 medium onions, peeled and cut into 1 cm cubes
1 green pepper de-seeded and cubed
about 300gms runner beans cut into 1cm cubes
Prep all the veg and put them into a big china, glass or plastic bowl.
Now make the brine by dissolving 250gm salt in 1/2 litres of water and pour this over. It's best to weight the vegetables down with a plate so they stay under the brine.
Put the bowl into a cool dark room and leave for about 24 hours.
Next make the sauce for the piccalilli You need to do this in a large stainless steel or enamelled pan.
30g (1oz) plain flour
60g (2oz) mustard powder
225g (8oz) white granulated sugar
1 tbsp turmeric
1tablespoon crushed fennel seeds
Together then make them into a paste using part of 750 ml distilled or white wine vinegar
I've found if you mix the dry ingredient well the tend not to "clump" when the vinegars added.
Put this over a medium heat and cook, stirring often. until the mixture thickens. Now turn the heat to low and simmer the sauce for 4-5 minutes . Again you must stir well as it can catch on the bottom but you need to cook the flour to avoid a raw taste.
Meanwhile drain the veg and rinse under running water. Shake as much water off as you can then tip these into the pan with the sauce.
Cook the vegetable in the sauce, simmering for 2-3 minutes then pot into jars and store in a cool dark place for at least a month.