The cooking and pickling has finally started!
I've been really pleased with the produce I've been harvesting from my little kitchen garden. Pleased with how quickly and how much I've been able to harvest. So far, it has been mostly zucchini, cucumber, silverbeet and capsicums, with a few little handfuls of basil, beans, chillis, lettuce and rocket.
I love cucumber pickles and planted a lot of cucumber plants with pickling in mind. I've pickled my cucumber using a few different recipes but my favourite so far have been the sweet spiced pickles, dill pickles and sweet and spicy pickles.
Preserving and pickling is so enjoyable and so easy. I love being able to eat summer fruit and vegetables in winter because I took the time to preserve them. Sometimes I meet people who think that there is an air of mystery around preserving, as if there is some kind of magic or complicated science behind them. There isn't really.
SWEET SPICED CUCUMBER PICKLES
10-15 cucumbers depending on the size
1 tablespoon of salt
Small cinnamon sticks
Tiny onions, 1 for each jar (or half a medium onion per jar)
Garlic, 1 clove for each jar of pickles
1 cup of light colored vinegar (apple cider or white wine vinegar)
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup sugar
Slice the cucumbers lengthways and into quarters. Place in a colander, sprinkle with salt and leave for 2 hours.
Meanwhile, prepare the jars and pickling liquid.
Wash and sterilise your jars and lids. I usually sterilise them by putting them in a pot of boiling water for a few minutes, but you could also put them in a hot oven for 5-10 minutes (although I did once burn a batch of lids this way).
Into each jar place 1 teaspoon of mustard seeds, a large bay leaf, 1 halved tiny onion, 1lightly crushed garlic clove, 1/2 teaspoon of horseradish and 1 small cinnamon stick. The cinnamon can be very overwhelming, I put in pieces that were roughly 4cm x 0.5cm. Once the cucumber is ready, pack the pieces in so that they are fairly tight and leave a minimum of 1.5cm gap between the lid and cucumbers.
Heat up the vinegar, water and sugar, once it is boiling pour into the jars leaving a maximum 0.5cm gap between the lid and pickling soluntion. Seal immediately.
Once the jars are cool enough to handle I give them a good shake to move the spices around the jar.
They will be ready to eat in a couple of days, but will be better the longer you leave them. They will store safely for up to a year.
This recipe is pretty flexible, if you aren't a fan of cinnamon or horseradish you can just omit or replace them. If you want to change the ratio of vinegar, water and sugar though, only increase the proportion of vinegar, as this is what will pickle the cucumbers and keep them safe. If you don't have enough pickling solution to cover the cucumbers, just make up a little more using the same ratio.