Aspall Cyder Vinegar Hedgerow Preserve Recipes: Alexanders
In the second of our series of blogs on cooking and preserving wild food, our expert forager, Jon Tyler proposes pickling Alexanders another abundant, but less well known, spring-time green that thrives in the east particularly the closer you get to the coast.
Alexanders (Smyrnium olusatrum) arrived in the UK with the Romans but has long since gone native.
The bright glossy leaves can be seen emerging as early as January and although all-parts of the plant are edible its the stems that are it's real delicacy. You see it growing along the roadsides in Suffolk (although be wary of picking it from there).
With its distinctive, usual and aromatic flavour the young tender stems can be steamed or boiled and served simply with butter but this recipe pickles them in Aspall Organic Cyder Vinegar to enjoy for the rest of the year.
Alexanders Pickle abu
This pickle will keep for a least a year and will improve in flavour the longer it is kept. Delicious with smoked fish on rye bread or pumpernickel; it also goes well with mature hard cheeses.
WHAT YOU NEED
250g Alexanders stems (approx. six 15cm long sections)
300ml Aspall Organic Cyder Vinegar
10g salt (2 teaspoons)
1 small onion (about 100g)
50g soft brown sugar
1 teaspoon coriander seeds
1 teaspoon black pepper corns
2 young Fennel leaves (divided into small sprigs)
2 Bay leaves
- First peel off the shiny green outer layer of the stems. With a peeler carefully take off the fibrous inner layer to end up with a soft thin fleshed pale-green tube.
- Lay the peeled stems in a container and cover evenly with the salt (leave for several hours to cure).
- Finely slice the onion, heat a sauce pan and place coriander seeds and peppercorns in the pan heat to release aroma. Add vinegar, onions, sugar and bay leaves. Bring to simmer.
- Meanwhile rinse and dry the Alexanders tubes, then thinly slice (to resemble spaghetti hoops).
- When the vinegar mixture has reached a simmer add the Alexanders and take off the heat.
- Divide the mixture evenly into two (250ml) jars, then place 2 or 3 fennel leaf sprigs in each of the jars and top up with any remaining vinegar from the pan. Leave for at least three weeks to mature.
Guest blogger: Jon Tyler, Wild for Woods