Pickles

make your own pickles and chutney | Family Cuisine

Hello, my name is _____. I am a pickle enthusiast and author of a cookbook dedicated to making your own pickles and chutney. In this book, you will find recipes for all sorts of different pickled vegetables

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Make your own pickles and chutney

Making pickles, relishes and chutneys at home? Expert Robin Ripley offers her top tips.

If you’re thinking of preserving foods at home, there are some rules you should follow. Robin Ripley gives stacks of advice in her new book Wisdom for Home Preservers.

We’ve pulled out 10 of the most useful tips from her chapter on pickles, relishes and chutneys.

Reading: make your own pickles and chutney

Ten top tips

1. Pick the right bowls and pots for pickling Avoid containers and utensils made of unlined copper, iron, zinc, or brass when pickling. These materials may react with acid and salt and can cloud or discolour your pickles. For pots, pick such materials as stainless steel, heatproof glass, or hard-anodised aluminum.

2. Understand the causes of pickle problems Cartoon gherkinsAlmost all pickle problems can be traced back to a specific cause. Pickles that are soft or slippery could be caused by a problem with the brine: either the vinegar was not at least 5% acidity or there was an insufficient amount of brine. Pickles that were improperly processed or blossom ends left on the cucumber could also cause this problem.

Shrivelled pickles can also be caused by a problem with the brine being either too strong, too heavy on the syrup, or having a too-strong vinegar.

Spotted, dull, or faded-looking pickles could have been exposed to too much light. The cucumbers could also have been of poor quality. The bottom line is that if something is not quite right with your pickles, think through your ingredients and process.

3. Know how to fix too-tart pickles Occasionally you may use a recipe that produced a pucker-producing pickle. If the recipe is a family hand-me-down or otherwise appeals to you and you want to use it again, don’t reduce the amount of vinegar in search of the too-tart cure. The vinegar is an important safety ingredient to prevent the growth of bacteria. Instead, add a bit of sugar to the mix.

4. Use the right kind of salt Canning recipes usually specify that you use pickling salt, canning salt, or preserving salt. They’re all the same thing and are really just fine-grained, pure salt without the anti-caking or iodine additives typically found in table salt.

Read more: Sweet Pickle Relish | Family Cuisine

You want to avoid these additives; although they won’t hurt you, they can turn preserved foods dark and cloud liquids or leave a white sediment in the jar.

5. Make your own pickling spices Cartoon picklesCustomise your homemade pickles with your own brand of pickling spices. Experiment with specialised combinations of crushed and crumbled spices and herbs such as coriander, fennel, caraway and mustard seeds, peppercorns, dried pepper flakes, allspice, bay leaves, ginger, chilies, and cloves. Mix spices in small batches for optimal freshness. Briefly toast pickling spices in a dry sauté pan to bring out flavours immediately before using in recipes.

6. Make pickles in the freezer This sounds very counter-intuitive since everyone knows cucumbers don’t freeze well. But this works to make wonderful pickles!

Wash and thinly slice four cups of good pickling cucumbers and two large onions. Mix together with 1tbsp of salt and let stand for 2-4 hours at room temperature to extract the moisture from the vegetables. Rinse, drain, and blot well with paper towels. In a separate bowl, combine 1 cup of sugar, 1⁄2 cup of cider vinegar, 1tbsp of white mustard seeds, and 1⁄2tsp of turmeric and mix until all the ingredients are dissolved. Pour the liquid over the cucumber and onions, pack into freezer containers, and seal. When you’re ready to eat, just thaw in the refrigerator for a few hours and eat!

7. Try pickled eggs If you travelled through Britain years ago you may have seen jars of pickled eggs on the counters in pub bars.Eggs

You can pickle any sort of eggs, but the best eggs for pickling are small ones. Small chicken eggs are fine. Pheasant, guinea, and quail eggs are delightful. Duck and goose eggs are larger and less suitable for pickling.

Unfortunately, there are no safe methods for canning pickled eggs at home. But you don’t have to bypass this old-fashioned treat. You can still pickle eggs and keep them in the refrigerator. They should be used within three to four months for best quality. Never leave pickled eggs at room temperature except when serving.

8. Discover the vast array of relish possibilities Given how much most people enjoy eating, it’s remarkable how few of us seem to relish relishes. In general, a relish is a sweet, savoury, and/or sour sauce mixed with a chopped and pickled vegetable or mix of vegetables, but also sometimes fruits.

How about a fennel relish so you can stretch that delightful, but underused, vegetable onto plates with blackened salmon or spicy pork chops? We like olive and caper relishes, also called tapenades, and the unusual relishes you can eat as salads made from green beans, beets, or rhubarb.

Read more: Spicy Pickle Recipe | Family Cuisine

9. You can make no-sugar relishes at home Although the range of no-sugar alternatives is increasing, most storebought relishes include copious amounts of sugar. This is yet another reason why canning is having a renewed surge in popularity. Many people have special dietary needs and preferences that are more easily met by avoiding commercially prepared foods and making foods at home.

Some recipes use Splenda as a sweetener and others mix in naturally sweet vegetables, such as carrots, to give the relish a sweeter flavor. Even if you choose to use no sweetening alternative, you may find that you prefer no-sugar relishes for their more piquant vegetable flavors unmasked by sweeteners.

10. Make your own Major Grey’s Mango Chutney Major Grey’s isn’t a brand of chutney because there are dozens of brands of Major Grey’s Mango Chutney. Rather it is a type of chutney made with mangoes, raisins, and onions, along with vinegar and spices. The name supposedly comes from the 19th-century British Army officer who invented the stuff. Major Grey is probably mythical, or at least he is lost to time, but the chutney endures because it is absolutely delicious.

The list of ingredients to make your own Major Grey’s is quite long, so print out a recipe to take to the shops to find the spices you’ll need or you’ll surely forget something. Serve with meats, mix with grated cheese for sandwiches, give a new twist to a chicken salad, or use it to top baked brie en croûte.

Tips extracted from Wisdom for Home Preservers by Robin Ripley (published by Apple Press)

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