The Modern Preserver: Meet Pickling Guru Kylee Newton

When Kylee Newton pickles, magic happens. With vinegar, fresh produce and just the right amount of seasonings, this kitchen alchemist can wake taste buds you didn’t even know you had. Newton & Pott preserves, which Kylee handmakes in Hackney, have become hugely popular across London, and her first book, The Modern Preserver, has received high praise from critics and home picklers alike.

For Kylee, pickling is all about having fun with flavours while encouraging a ‘waste not, want not’ ethos. We spoke to New-Zealand born Kylee to find out how her pickling prowess developed and her golden rules for pickling at home. 

How did Newton & Pott begin? 

Newton & Pott was born out of a want to give food longevity rather than create something that would go to waste if it wasn't sold that day. I thought I wanted to make and sell baked goods but I saw preserving as a better way to save the seasons with less refuse.

Why do you love pickling?

I love preserving as it doesn't only appeal to my ecological ideals, there's also something special about opening a jar I preserved months ago. It’s like exposing a secret of a season once gone, opening up summer memories on a cold winter’s day…  

What was the very first pickle or preserve you made?  

The first preserve I ever made was a tomato and apple chutney, my adaption of a recipe from The Edmonds Cookbook, a New Zealand iconic cookery book dated 1908. Every New Zealand household owns a copy and it remains cookery bible (even though the recipes are super dated), with a world of traditional Kiwiana culinary staples. We continue to produce this chutney in our Newton & Pott range for its sentimental origins.

What is the latest pickle or preserve you have made?  

We made pickled cherries in the summer. I love to come up with new recipes when the seasons present themselves. For me, it's not just about the preserve but also how you use the preserve. I'm determined to conquer the condiment ghost town that occupies the top shelf of the fridge so I’ve been busy collaborating to demonstrate how this can be achieved. I used the pickled cherries in matcha friands [green tea cakes] for an afternoon tea I hosted with baker Henrietta Inman. 

Is modern pickling different to traditional pickling?

Chefs these days make quick pickles, which are often sweeter and immediately palatable, but these are not strictly preserves if they must be eaten straight away. At Newton & Pott we make vinegar brine pickles where we can spin the flavour wheel and have fun with a wider selection of vinegars and spices than used to be available. 

What’s your favourite way to eat pickles? 

In everything! Watch this space as I hope to write another book about how to eat your pickles and preserves! 

What golden rules should we follow when experimenting with pickling?

Start with your brine. Use a good quality vinegar with at least 5% acidity for preservation if you want them to keep! Aspall have worked hard to develop the flavour range of their vinegars and these are ideal — we use them at Newton & Pott. In addition to vinegar, a brine should have salt and sugar. Ratios can differ and sometimes water is also added to mellow the sharper vinegar tones, but not too much or it won’t preserve. You can then play around with your spices. We usually use more sugar and sweeter spices when pickling fruits than when pickling vegetables. But have fun and experiment! 

Do you have any tips for choosing ingredients to pickle? 

Think about the produce and its sturdiness. Pick fresh, firm fruits and vegetables. The trick is to capture the produce at its best and give it longevity in this state. Cucumbers and radishes break down quicker so won't last as long as, say, carrots, so think about this when adding a warm or cold brine. Also, you may want to very briefly blanch some harder vegetables like beetroot or pickling onions to allow the flavours to penetrate better.  

Do you have any advice about vinegar varieties?  

Play around with different vinegars. I predominately use white wine, cider and red wine, though. Balsamic is a little too rich when pickling unless you are making a quick pickle with simpler ingredients. Also, I don't really use malt vinegar because I find it too rich and overpowering. You want the flavour combinations of produce, spice and vinegar to marry and complement each other, rather than fight against each other to stand out. 

Kylee has created two brand new pickling recipes exclusively for Aspall: quick pickled blackberries and citrus pickled fennel

If Kylee has inspired you to get pickling, her exclusive pickling recipes and a selection of our other favourites can be found in our recipe page.