Today I’ve pickled. Anyone who knows me, knows I like a good pickle, even to the extent I’ve knitted Christmas Pickles as presents for close friends. In our household they’re often referred to as wallies, for reasons nobody seems to remember. But a cold wally fresh from the jar dipped in hummus is one of life’s most exquisite palate pleasures. Or at least it is for me.
So what with the weatherlore predicting pestilence after we had fog on the Feast of the Conversion of St Paul on 25 January 2020, I thought now might be a good time to start preserving some food. An ex-stage manager is very much like an ex-scout, we always remain prepared. However, my last attempt at preserving food turned out to be a very unwise sauerkraut, so I wasn’t feeling particular confident.
Because I already stockpile wallies (because why wouldn’t you?), I began looking at recipes using veg other than small cucumbers, starting with my very old falling apart 1923 edition of Mrs Beeton’s Every-Day Cookery. She had a good selection but a lot of her measurements were in quarts and gallons which made it hard to visualise, also these recipes were without illustrations and I do like to see where I’m going wrong (although I might go back for her pickled walnuts at some point). The internet was next. There were light and frothy recipes for quick short term pickles (although if your pickles are actually frothy, that’s a bad sign), and serious Prepper recipes for end of the world pickles. Then I got it into my head I wanted to make piccalilli, which I don’t actually like that much, but after I saw how much sugar went into it, I settled on an easy mid-lasting pickle recipe from Rachel Roddy.
And it was indeed an easy make, except for juggling the timings. What I hadn’t appreciated (and where my sauerkraut probably tripped up) was the sterilising of the jars had to mesh with the pickling sequence so they were ready at the same time as the veg. But once I’d figured all that out, my main problems were overcoming the Peter Piper picked a peck of pickled peppers earworm, finding my bay leaves, and having to do a second half-lot of pickling liquor (in which I forgot to add the (small amount of) sugar and salt) because I had too much veg, or it was the wrong shape for the jars, I’m not sure.
I have high hopes even though I finagled the recipe a little, changing the vinegar from white to apple cider, and throwing at it all the aromatics Roddy lists as examples to include (most of them fall somewhere between Folklore Chaotic Good and Neutral Good), plus a dried chipotle chilli and some ginger. I just need to wait a week for a taste test. And find some room in my fridge to keep them.
Got a little overexcited when I saw the spuds this morning, they are definitely in the throes of a teenage growth spurt.
Beeton, Mrs (1923) Mrs Beeton’s Every-Day Cookery, London and Melbourne, Ward, Lock & Co., Limited