I guess making a winter food store is a bit redundant these days. But I love the idea of it, even though I’m lucky enough not to have to do it to get by. I adore opening a larder and being presented with rows of jars with their trapped summer contents. Better still, if the contents were grown by us too. It’s a habit I inherited from my father, a notoriously stingy & thrifty individual who liked nothing better than trapping rabbits and scouring hedgerows, leaving tunnels in 8 foot bramble bushes as evidence of his passing. As a child, obviously this was a massive embarrassment, seeing as it was pre-vintage fervour and repurposing wasn’t yet a byword. But in some ways he was way ahead of his time.
All the same, the making of preserves is an annual autumn event in the house of Chopsticks; part ritual, part what-the-hell-do-I-do-with-another-hundredweight-of-tomatoes. You’ll have noticed the odd post on the subject in the past. In some ways it’s almost embarrassing, posting stuff about something that takes only a few minutes to achieve – it’s scarcely Masterchef.
But actually, that’s the point. It is easy. Everyone can do this – should be doing this – it’s fun and rewarding and simple and nourishing. And so, my evangelising continues, this time with Seriously the Easiest Pickle in the World.
Wash and dry the cucumbers. It is better if you use the tiny Lebanese snacking cucumbers for this – they’re about 10cm long.
- Slice your cucumbers into discs about 3mm thick.
- Take the vinegar (I used cider vinegar, but you could use whatever you have in your pantry), sugar (couple of tablespoons per jar, less if you don’t like sweetish pickles) & peppercorns (about a tablespoon per jar) place in a saucepan and bring to the boil.
- Meanwhile clean your jar well with hot soapy water, rinse and put the wet jar in the microwave for a couple of minutes to sterilise (or the oven if you prefer).
- Layer your slices of cucumber in the jar and pour over the hot vinegar mix.
- Cover with sterilised lid (pour boiling water over the lid first to sterilise it).
- Leave for as long as you can stand it – couple of days to weeks/months. They will improve with age!
- Add rings of thinly sliced red onion to the layers of cucumber
- Try other spices such as coriander seeds, bay leaf, dried herbs, dried chillies, mustard seeds, cinnamon stick
- Vary the levels of sugar to find your favourite
- Try different types of vinegar
- Keep the tiny cucumbers whole