Preserving with Pickles!

This time of year is just amazing for colourful produce. And with the exceptionally warm weather we’ve had it’s particularly good for the polytunnel veg. So, what to do when you have a glut of courgettes or cucumbers? Make pickles! An old-fashioned, tried and tested process, it’s a tasty way to preserve your summer veg for weeks and months to come – which of course reduces waste and your carbon footprint too! The cucumbers, courgettes, garlic, bay and radishes I used came from the Community Garden and the spring onions from the Forgan Strawberry Shed.

When making pickles, there should always be a basic brine which consists of sugar, salt, vinegar and water. The rest is entirely up to you so I encourage you to get creative with whatever you add to the brine. These recipes are a guide – dial up or down on any of these ingredients, or try something different. Any types of jars will do but the clip-top ones are ideal for being able to shake up your brine occasionally. You can eat them with just about anything, but at this time of year we’re enjoying them with BBQ’d food and salads.

Spiced courgette and garlic pickles

Ingredients:

  • 2 courgettes
  • 2 spring onions (shallots are a slightly better size and taste but the garden’s weren’t ready yet!)
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 1 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1 cup water
  • 100g sugar (I used raw unrefined sugar)
  • 2 tbsp salt
  • 1 tbsp mustard seeds
  • 1 tbsp coriander seeds
  • 1 tsp peppercorns
  • 4 cloves
  • 2 cardamom pods (give them a wee bash first)
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 cinnamon stick

How to:

Thinly slice the courgette. I used the largest and smallest ones from this photo. Don’t get too hung up on exact weights or sizes. You can always make extra brine if you need to.

sliced corguette in colander

Firstly, lay them out in a colander or two over a bowl and generously sprinkle with salt. This draws out excess water. Leave them for anything from an hour to overnight in the fridge. The longer you leave it the more water comes out.

sliced onion

Also thinly slice the garlic and shallot if using – a little chunkier if using spring onions like me. Then to make your brine, put all of the ingredients into a saucepan and bring to the boil. Simmer until the salt and sugar have dissolved then take it off the heat.

brine

When you’re ready to start jarring, pat the courgette dry with a towel to remove the moisture that has come out. Layer the courgettes, garlic and onions very roughly.

corguette in a jar

Once the jar is full pour over the semi-cooled brine. You may need to top up with a little extra water – that’s ok. Allow it to cool further before closing the jar – although it doesn’t need to be completely cooled before sealing. Store in a dry place for at least a week and hopefully for months, if you can stop eating them!

Dill radish pickled radish and cucumbers

Ingredients:

  • 2 cucumbers
  • 8-10 radishes
  • 2 spring onions
  • 1 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1 cup water
  • 100g sugar (I used raw unrefined sugar)
  • 2 tbsp salt
  • 1 tbsp mustard seeds
  • 1 tbsp coriander seeds
  • 1 tsp peppercorns
  • 10 cloves
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 tbsp dried dill (or 2 tbsp fresh dill finely chopped)

How to:

Follow exactly the same steps as above. This time I put the colander in the fridge overnight to extract more water. And don’t add the dill to your brine in the saucepan, add it at the very end right before pouring into the jar. That’s it!

cucmber and radish pickle

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