Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Veges and vinegar

Time for me to venture even further into unfamiliar territory: 'pickles, chutneys and sauces'. The recipe for spiced vinegar (p232) caught my eye fairly early in my perusal of this chapter, mostly because I'd noted that one or two recipes in other parts of the book require spiced vinegar as an ingredient.

Also on p232 is a recipe for pickled vegetables, which use spiced vinegar as an ingredient. I had some of Mum's lovely home-grown capsicums, and decided that I could use these as well as my home-made spiced vinegar to make pickled veges.

The first thing to do was to acquire the spices. Whole allspice and crushed nutmeg pieces are something you can't really get at the supermarket. So I had a look at the Asian Food Warehouse, which has heaps of bulk spices, but no whole allspice or nutmeg. They did have mustard seeds, but I didn't really want to buy a whole bag when I only needed a tiny bit.
Next I tried a couple of other ethnic food stores, where I found whole nutmegs, but not crushed ones. And again I would have had to buy a bag of them for about $5, when I really only needed one nutmeg's worth. I finally got myself to Bin Inn, where, to my delight, I got everything I needed for the princely sum of $1.20.

When I say I got everything I needed, I did not in fact get crushed nutmeg pieces. I'm now convinced that you just can't buy nutmeg in pieces, only whole and ground. So I got a whole nutmeg (Yay for Bin Inn! Nutmegs per each!) and bashed it with a hammer. It was really quite satisfying.

From that point on, the process was pretty simple: Pour the vinegar into a pot, bung in all the spices, and boil for 10 minutes. My kitchen smelt absolutely beautiful, but the fumes were pretty pungent when I got my face directly in the steam from the pot - if you've ever breathed in the fumes from a pot of mulled wine, it's a fairly similar experience.

You can use the spiced vinegar immediately, but I left mine to steep for a couple of days, which is recommended for a richer flavour. Meanwhile, I collected up the vege I wanted to pickle.

The veges need to be chopped up, sprinkled with salt and left for 12 hours before blanching and pickling. This meant I had to either salt them in the evening and pickle them in the morning before work, or salt them in the morning and do the pickling in the evening. Faced with these alternatives, I chose to do the less labour-intensive part this morning. I got up at 6am, (that may seem early but it's actually only 20 minutes earlier than usual) to chop and salt the veges before jumping in the shower. Easy.

When I got home from work, I strained my vinegar, rinsed and drained the veges, blanched the beans and cauliflower, and sterilised my jar. I'm still a bit dubious about the jar I chose; the instructions specify a jar with a non-metallic lid, and the only one I had was my old lolly jar from when I was teaching. It's got one of those kind of lever arrangements on it which are supposed to seal it. But I noticed today there's no rubber ring or anything, so I don't think the seal is too great...

Anyway, I'll see how it turns out. My reasoning is I'm not doing the kind of preserving that works by keeping the air out. It's the vinegar that's doing the preserving... I hope.

Once the jar was ready, I piled all the veges into it and poured over the vinegar.  I was expecting a grotty looking brown mess, but I have to admit, it looks pretty cool. I have to wait a minimum of 3 weeks before using them, so only time will tell if my pickled veges are a success!


  1. If those pickled veges turn out to be anything like what my grandma used to make, then YUM-MY!

  2. I hope she used the Edmonds recipe then!


Popular posts this week