Tuesday, 12 November 2013

A bit of a pickle...

Well, Christmas is almost here and it's time to start thinking about presents. And because we've got a wedding to fund in the new year, and would also like to get onto the property ladder before too much longer, it's shaping up to be a homemade gifts sorta year. But fear not, anyone who thinks they might be unwrapping a crudely knitted sweater or some poorly constructed bit of DIY - I kid you not, 3rd grade secret santa I received a plank of wood that was half-painted and had some nails hammered into it. No, I think this year most of my homemade gifts will be things that are 'chocolate covered' ''cold-smoked' or indeed 'pickled'. So I'm getting practising early, trying out a few new ideas, and planning the hampers. You lucky devils you.
The process here is very basic: take your pickling vinegar, pack it full of whatever flavourings you want to use then bring it to the boil in a saucepan, reduce to simmer for a minute or two and then allow to cool completely before pouring over your goods. I went for a favourite of mine, pickled cucumbers, and a controversial newbie - eggs. Pickled eggs are a revelation, and I highly recommend them to all of you out there. I know for a fact that most people reading this will turn their nose up at them, and I know for certain that most of those people will have never even given them the old college try. Just do it. Really, really do it. For something like eggs you want quite a strong, acidic vinegar in which to steep so for a dozen eggs, hard-boiled and peeled, you need about a litre of pickling vinegar. I flavoured mine with a pinch of saffron and a few black peppercorns, then added to a jar with a red chilli. The cucumbers want a lighter, brine-like mixture so use about 3:1 ratio of water to vinegar and add a tablespoon of salt and sugar before boiling. For a bit more flavour I added some coriander seed and a couple of cloves of garlic to the jar before sealing. And that's pretty much it, oh but don't forget to sterilise your jars properly before using. Otherwise you get ill and nobody wants that, definitely not before the holidays. So try it, enjoy it, and let me know how you get on. And don't worry Mom, you're not getting any pickled eggs this year. Somehow I don't see it being your kinda thing...

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