Saturday, May 7, 2011

in a pickle

I realised at the end of this weekend that I had entered something of a nanna state. Somewhere in amongst going out to see the excellent Smoke and Mirrors and preparing for a job interview, I managed to make pumpkin scones, a spinach and chicken pie and about 7 jars of pickles. I also somehow sprained my wrist whilst sitting on the couch. Achievements all round. But let's get on to the pickles because they were quite exciting, in a way that preserves tend to be.

My gran and I were both big supporters of pickles and cheese on toast, actually, make that most things and cheese on toast, but especially pickles. I am instantly transported back to her tiny kitchen whenever I dip into that lurid yellow preserve. There is something about pickles that is homely and nourishing and just plain good and so I thought it was about time that I made some from scratch.

This would be the point where I found Gran's handwritten long lost recipe but alas I couldn't find anything of the sort amongst all my cookbook paraphernalia and so I turned to the excellent and reliable Homecooked - favourite recipes from Australian kitchens (with recipes selected by Maggie Beer, Valli Little and Ian McNamara). It's a little hard to find but I heartily recommend owning a copy of this little gem. It has so often had a recipe for something obscure/ old fashioned that I've got it in my head that I want to make and haven't been able to find anywhere else, such as: savoury cheese puffs or passionfruit flummery or puftaloons or... you get the idea.

Anyway, there in the back was a recipe for green tomato and cucumber pickles that looked to be just the ticket. I didn't have any green tomatoes but I didn't let that put me off and instead substituted carrots and leek for the tomatoes. I also quartered the recipe because otherwise it produces 27 cups and whilst I like pickles, I probably couldn't put away that many of them.

Adapted from Homecooked, ABC Books
Makes approximately 7-9 cups

125g salt
4 cups water
500g onions, chopped roughly into chunks
500g cucumbers, unpeeled and chopped
250g of leeks, finely sliced
250g carrots, chopped
1 1/4 cups sugar
1/2 cup plain flour
3/4 Tbs ground turmeric
1/2 tspn white pepper
3/4 Tbs curry powder
3/4 Tbs mustard powder
2 1/4 cups white vinegar
1/2 tspn ground allspice

Dissolve the salt in the water in a large (non-aluminium) saucepan on low heat. Put the vegetables into the saucepan and stand overnight. Next morning, place the pan on high heat, bring to the boil and cook for 5 minutes. Remove from the heat, drain and rinse the vegetables well.

In a medium bowl, mix together the sugar, flour, turmeric, pepper, curry powder and mustard powder and mix to form a paste with 1 cup of cold water.

Put the vinegar and allspice into a large saucepan and bring to the boil. Stir in the paste mixture and return to the boil until it all thickens. Add in the vegetables and stir through to combine. Pour into clean jars and seal immediately. Keep in the fridge for afternoon snacks or for any time you feel like a slab of bread with pickles and cheese, or just pickles, or whatever your fancy.


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