BY ROBERT SLEIGHT
I hope that if anybody was planting any crops this year that you had a decent harvest. It is at this point you need to decide what to do to enjoy all your produce throughout the winter. In my opinion there are only 3 options and those are:
- preserving (jams and chutneys)
I think that these are a great and tasty way of enjoying all your produce throughout the year and as a side bonus pickles and preserves make great home-made gifts. Most of the time I will use my tomatoes and chilis to make a light tomato and chili jam which is great on cheese and other snacks. Then any other vegetables are fair game for pickling and fermentation. Those two things sound quite intimidating but once you understand what is happening it becomes second nature. In this edition I will teach you the all-purpose pickling solution and the fermentation equation that I use.
All in one pickling solution
Mix together a solution of one part water and one part vinegar to begin with. For every cup of the solution you end up with you then need to add two thirds of a tablespoon of salt. Kosher salt is better but table salt will also do the job. That is pretty much it for the pickling solution. Next what you want to do is pack with vegetables you want into a jar which has been cleaned and sterilised in boiling water. Then you need to think about what you want to go with it, any peppercorns or other herbs and spices will also go into the jar. Take your pickling solution and bring it up to the boil then pour that into the jar also. You need it to get to the point where it has just about covered up everything in the jar then you need to come up with something to make sure everything stays below the waterline. I have to do this with a bag of water or a piece of kitchen roll as seen in the picture. Now just wait for it to cool down, remove the weight and put the lid on. Then you just need to store it somewhere cool and dry for a few days to weeks depending on how strong you want your pickle to be. After this they will be good to go. Keep them in the fridge and they can last for a few months.
I had planned to do a little section about fermenting vegetables but the last time I actually tried this I ended up with a right mess. I would prefer nobody to take any of my advice and end up getting sick. So at the moment I will put this bit on hold until I get the procedure down. If you can get it right you can make sauerkraut and kimchi. If you get really good at it you can then move on to wine and beer.
Hopefully this will at least give you a couple of ideas to get going. This month I am going to work on a few different preservation techniques to give you some good examples over the next article. I am hoping to make a jam and maybe a nice selection of pickles. I hope you have a good rest of the month.