So in a change from the usual chutneys, here's a pickle!
1kg cucumbers (or gherkins)
1 tbs sugar (optional)
cider or white wine vinegar
1 sprig of dill (optional. Unless you’re using gherkins, then it’s compulsory!)
1 tsp black peppercorns
With a sharp knife, cut the cucumber into painfully thin slices. I’m sure that there are food processor attachments that can do this sort of thing, but I have always taken the sharp-knife-and-backache approach. Arrange the slices in a colander (or the plastic inner mesh of a salad spinner), scattering with salt between the layers. This draws out moisture & helps vegetables remain crisp after pickling. Place the colander in a bowl, cover with a cloth & leave somewhere cool overnight.
The next day, take a moment to marvel at how much liquid has come out of the veg. Rinse thoroughly & pack into clean, sterilised jars. Add the sugar (if using) & dill to the jar & top with the vinegar. Seal & store in a cool, dry place for a few weeks. Once opened, keep it in the fridge.
What can you do with it? It's a really nice accompaniment to stir fries, goes well in veggie burgers, gives potato salad a nice bite & sour note & is surprisingly tasty in sandwiches.
This is one of those recipes that you can really play around with, all you need is to remember to slice them & salt them the night before. Need a few suggestions? Okay then…
Combine shallots, cauliflower florets & slices of carrot for a mixed pickle (add 1 tbs sugar to the vinegar for a sweet mixed pickle)
Slices of radish (or if you’re growing rat-tail radish, whole young pods) with fresh mint leaves or dill. Japanese daikon or mooli sliced or grated with ginger or chilli slices works really well too.
Cauliflower florets are a delicious, crisp pickle, and work really well with the addition of 1tbs of toasted coriander seed & 1 tsp toasted cumin seed (you can add a pinch of turmeric & yellow mustard powder for a bit of colour too!)
Celeriac, coarsely grated or thinly sliced, with 1 tbs yellow mustard seed and as much grated black pepper as you can stomach.
Florence Fennel, finely sliced with the zest & juice of a lemon and a couple of bay leaves makes a light, refreshing pickle.
Celery, finely sliced, makes a refreshing pickle.
Courgettes, deseeded & sliced, with whatever Mediterranean herbs you have lying around, is a good way of using up a glut.
Red cabbage & red onion, shredded, with plenty of black pepper.