Preserving is trendy right now and is a healthy and wholesome hobby. If you’re getting into preserving, Wares of Knutsford has plenty of advice, recipes, pickle jars and other preserving equipment to help you along the way.
Pickles and chutneys
Pickles, relishes and chutneys are a great way for budding preservers to get started. They are inexpensive and easier than jam, because you don’t need to worry about pectin and setting points. Pickles and chutneys can be sweet or sour and take some time to develop in flavour, so your pickle jars should be left to mature for a minimum of four weeks before using.
Basic pickle guide
Vegetables are preserved using clear pickling, a traditional way of preserving. In clear pickling, vegetables are usually left whole or in large chunks, and are usually pickled raw. They are preserved in vinegar with salt, sugar, herbs and spices adding flavour. You can make sweet pickles by cooking the vegetables lightly and using sweet vinegar with added spices. Sometimes the vinegar is thickened with cornflour, which is when you end up with piccalilli.
By contrast, chutneys are usually made with a mixture of vegetables and fruit and are heavily spiced and well cooked. The fruits and vegetables are cut into smaller chunks and the chutney is quite easily spread on bread or crackers. If carefully prepared and stored, chutneys and clear and sweet pickles will last for up to two years.
Relishes are also made of smaller pieces of fruits and vegetables in a spicy base, but they are only lightly cooked and don’t need a long maturing period before they are eaten. They will only last for about a year and need to be refrigerated after opening.
When making pickles, chutneys or relishes, always use high quality ingredients and sterilise your pickle jars and lids carefully before use.
Recipe for sweet cucumber pickle
- 1kg cucumbers, finely sliced
- 3 small onions, peeled and finely sliced
- 1 tablespoon chopped fresh dill
- 250g sugar
- 1 level tablespoon salt
- 200ml cider vinegar
Mix the cucumbers with the onions, dill, sugar and salt in a large bowl, then pour over the vinegar. Pack the mixture into clean, sterilised pickle jars and seal. Leave overnight to allow the flavours to develop before serving. Keep in the refrigerator and use within 10 days. This delicious sweet pickle adds vibrancy to salads and sandwiches and is delicious with hot smoked salmon or trout.