Potty About Pickles

Hello again, world. I’m back. I might be around a bit more too, for the foreseeable at least. Long story, available on request 😉

Like everyone else lucky enough to have a garden, we have been renewed with enthusiasm for ‘growing stuff’ in response to the curveball 2020 has thrown our way. Having been daft enough to plant out no fewer than eight courgette plants, I was braced for a serious glut. That never actually happened, but it did put me on a fun new path towards PICKLES.

I love pickles. I will gleefully eat pickled onions out of the jar. And gherkins. As will the Husb. We buy huge jars of gherkins and most of them are nibbled in isolation, rarely making it to an actual (veggie)burger. A spot of googling will tell you that you can pickle an awful lot more things that you spy in the pickle section at your favourite supermarket. Including….drumroll….courgettes! Spoiler – they were so good, they mostly met the same fate as the gherkins 🙂

I used this recipe (thank you BBC Good Food) pretty faithfully on the first attempt. Did I mention they were scrumptious?? However, I would argue slightly too strong on the vinegar, and the turmeric meant they were banned from anywhere other than a wipe-clean surface.

I’ve since adapted the recipe and used it to make some rather fabulous gherkins. It’s a bit tricky to give exact quantities, so I suggest you chop your cucumbers and stuff them into the jars you’re planning to use, fill the jars with water, then measure the water to see how much pickling liquid you need. Proportions for 500ml as follows:

  • 250ml white wine vinegar or cider vinegar
  • 250ml water
  • 140g caster sugar
  • 1tsp celery seeds (leave these out if you can’t find them)
  • 1tsp mustard seeds
  • pinch chilli flakes
  • 2 tbsp chopped onion OR 1 clove garlic, left whole
  • Fresh dill – I used two flower heads and a few fronds

To make the pickling juice, put all of the above except the dill and garlic or onion into a small pan, and heat gently until it just boils and all the sugar dissolves. Leave to cool.

To prep your cucumbers, slice them a few mm thick, then sprinkle with a few good pinches of salt. Leave in a bowl for about an hour, then rinse and drain. (You can probably get away without the salting part, but I haven’t tried that yet! I think it helps them stay crunchy.)

Then you just pack your sterilised jars with the cucumbers, garlic or onion and dill, pour on the pickling liquid, pop the lids on and job’s a good’un! Leave for three days before demolishing. Oh, best to store them in the fridge 🙂

Dill pickles

I made some more today, and ended up with too much pickle juice (due to not following my own instructions…) so I quickly sliced up a courgette and tried it with this modified recipe. I am confident it will be delish.

My first attempts at pickling were so successful, I was inspired to try a couple of other options.

Firstly, more cucumbers! Back in a previous life, I spent a fair chunk of time travelling to Poland for work. I have a vivid memory of one particular restaurant, where you could order huge (at least 1.5 litre) jars of brine-pickled cucumbers. I’d say these are an acquired taste, as they’re fermented, so have a particular flavour. I absolutely love them, even my version, and they inspired me to finally have a go at recreating pierogi (Polish dumplings) to go with them!

I used this recipe (without the horseradish or cherry leaf) for the cucumbers, and this recipe (with fake bacon!) for the pierogi. They go particularly well together 🙂

Pierogi and pickles (ogorski kiszone)

Finally, chillis. I absolutely love those pale green pickled chillis that you get at kebab shops (not that I eat many kebabs, clearly!) So I wondered if we could turn our chilli excess into something similar. The answer was a resounding yes. I used this two step process, which also involves some brine fermentation. I may have been eating these bad boys straight out of the jar….

Chillis brining. And yet more cukes!

Chutney and jam has also been produced to deal with the gluts of runner beans, apples and raspberries. More about that one day!