Quick Garden Pickles

It’s the time of the year when all that hard work in the veg garden starts to pay back big time. Well, when I say all that hard work, I mean mainly all Lizzie’s hard work. And now our bounteous harvest is coming in, the kitchen has become a whirr of activity as we feast on the fruits of Lizzie’s labour.

And what a lot there is coming in; happily, we have neighbours and family with which to share, but there is a limit to how much we can keep providing before the grateful smile of receiving becomes somewhat forced.

So one way to prolong the life of what’s being pulled from the earth is to pop it in to a pickling brine; this way we get a longer bite of the harvest – and it also means we don’t waste anything. And it’s so simple; the very basic brine recipe you need to remember is this:

  • 3 parts vinegar (I use cyder most of the time but you can vary if you choose)
  • 1 part water
  • 1 part sugar
  • A good pinch of salt.  

Boil this up and then pour in to a sterilised jar packed with your chopped or sliced veg. This type of pickle doesn’t store for that long – 3-4 weeks, and as the vinegar has been diluted it needs to be kept in the fridge or it will start to ferment. Once you have mastered the pickling brine technique, the world really is your veg garden and all manner of intriguing combinations can be pulled together. I tend to make a large volume of the pickling brine in one go and then use it up through the course of a week – but remember to heat it up again each time you make a quick pickle. 

These can be delicious on their own, and also provide wonderful accompaniments to meat and cheese plates. I have created 3 good pickle combo’s to start with (pictured above) - find the recipes via the following links: 

  • Spring Cabbage & Juniper Berries - Juniper is such a great ingredient for flavouring stews and sauces; and it’s great in this pickle, marrying its woody bittersweet flavour marrying beautifully with the sweetness of the pickling brine and the spring cabbage.
  • Red Onion & Apple Balsamic - Using apple balsamic vinegar in your pickling brine gives a touch more sweetness which marries well with red onion – and the colour combo is great too. Fabulous with a well spiced sausage roll.
  • Fennel & Basil - Fennel and basil is a luscious combination- once the basil has married with the aniseed of the fennel a wonderful cucumber tropical aroma comes to the fore – very reminiscent of Thai basil.