Firstly, apologies, as I should have had this post up several days ago, but things have been crazy.
My Christmas preparations continue, with my pickled red cabbage now happily maturing in the cupboard.
I board a lovely red cabbage from a farm shop and shredded it thinly, discarding any really tough bits near the stalk and popped it in a colander and generously covered with salt. I allowed that to sit overnight, before rinsing off the salt the next day and patting the shredded cabbage dry.
A heated some standard malt vinegar with pickling spices and some soft brown sugar, stirring until the sugar melted and tiny bubbles started to appear in the vinegar, but didn’t allow it to boil.
Once the vinegar was cool, I packed the cabbage tightly into jars and topped up with the vinegar. For added protection, I topped each jar with clingfilm before tightly closing them.
They should have a good five weeks to mature ready for Christmas – now I just need to do the onions! It’ll be perfect for cold meats and cheeses.
It’s pickling time in my kitchen. If there’s one thing my other half loves, it’s a pickled onion and they’re so easy to make.
I either use shallots or baby red onions for my pickled onions. I just grab a few bags and see how many I can fit in the jars I have at home.
Start by peeling your onions, pop them in a colander and generously sprinkle with salt. This helps to draw out excess liquid from them. Cover them with a tea towel and leave, preferably overnight. In the morning, rinse the onions thoroughly to remove the salt and pat dry with kitchen towel.
Sterilise your jars – I use as hot a water as I can stand, with washing up liquid and allow them to dry in a warm oven – just don’t put any rubber seals in the oven as they won’t thank you. Once your jars are dry, pack in as many onions as you can and then top up with vinegar – this will be your measurement for how much vinegar you need.
Pour the vinegar – without the onions! – into a saucepan, add pickling spices and a touch of sugar and heat, but do not boil. Just allow the sugar to dissolve.
Then return the vinegar, complete with spices, to your onion jars, carefully – remember it’s hot – and seal the jars tightly. Set your jars aside for a good two weeks before opening, but longer is better. Once open, keep your onions in the fridge.
I love preserving food, whether it’s jam, chutneys or pickles and one of my favourite books for inspiration is this River Cottage Handbook:
I’ve tried a first this year – pickled chillies!
Now, I’m not a big spicy eater, but my partner does enjoy his chillies and he loves pickles, so I thought, why not try the two together?!
Sadly, being in a small, one-bedroomed flat, I don’t have the room to grow chillies, so I had to make do with buying mine – have to say, I was disappointed not to be able to find any yellow ones, as I’m sure a tricolour effect would have looked lovely.
I started by washing the chillies thoroughly, before pricking them with a needle and packing them into a large, sterilised jar and pouring in a mix of white vinegar and water to make sure I wasn’t using more than needed. Then, pour the vinegar into a saucepan and heat up with pickling spices and some sugar, just to take the edge off the vinegar. You can see the recipe that I followed here.
Let the vinegar come to just about boiling and carefully pour over the chillies in the jar so they are covered. The wholes you pricked earlier will allow the vinegar to penetrate and pickle the whole chilli. Put the lid on and forget about them for a few days.
I was advised to give mine a quick look over after a few days to make sure the vinegar didn’t need topping up where the chillies absorb it. Mine did, so I pickled a little bit more vinegar and topped up the jar so the chillies were again covered.
Now, my partner hasn’t tried them yet, so I can’t say if they’re a success of not. But even if not, at least I can say they look pretty!