This year we planted three courgette plants in the back garden. I love courgettes, especially when they are quite small... but I also like to leave one or two to grow into marrow size so that I can stuff them... they really are one of my most favourite vegetables, however....
We have also been getting lots of broad beans, french beans and summer cabbage not to mention the goodies I am given when up at the allotment (on Friday it was spinach and lettuce)... so today I decided to pickle some of the summer veggies for using later in the winter.
Now I usually just use whatever vegetables I have too much of... and make sure that I have a bit of variety in each pot, most of the vegetables to be pickled come from my garden, which is very satisfying.
This is what I did... I chopped up a whole cauliflower and put it into a bowl. I added to that one onion that I quartered and a carrot chopped into slices. I then chopped up about 8 courgettes into quite chunky bits and put them in a different bowl, to which I added a red pepper, chopped into square-ish chunks, and some chopped french beans.
In a stainless steel saucepan I brought to the boil three cups of white wine vinegar and one and a half cups of granulated sugar with one and a half cups of water and two teaspoons of pickling salt and half a teaspoon of paprika.
When this was boiling I added the contents of the cauliflower bowl and then as soon as it came back to the boil I added the courgette bowl and took it immediately off the heat.
Next I spooned the vegetables into the warm Kilner jars and then topped it up with the hot sweet vinegar.
It is always at this point that I remember a friend of mine who used to work in a pickled gherkin factory in Amsterdam. When I asked him what he did there, he said that after the machine production line had filled the jars full it was his job to squeeze one last gherkin into the jar before the lid was placed on. I laughed at this, I thought he was joking. But... look at this jar of pickle...
...You can see the vegetables are actually floating in the sweet vinegar, even though I thought I had filled the jar quite full, there is always room for one more!
I used my brand new canner for the first time - I only had five 500ml jars of pickle and it can take 12 of those at a time but this was just a test run - it was a great success... took only ten to fifteen minutes to reach the required temperature (and then the thermostat keeps it there) and then it was ten minutes processing at a rolling boil. So much less fuss than I used to have trying to do jars individually in large saucepans or the pressure cooker.
I had a look at what I have left in my storeroom from last year... just one jar of kiwi apple and almond jam (no I don't grow the kiwi's or the almonds but it can be hard to find different recipes for the apples!) and two jars of plum and apple chutney... I brought them into the kitchen so that they will get used up pretty soon.
My five jars of pickle need to mellow for three or four months to take the sharp tang out of the vinegar and then they will be just perfect to have with boiled ham and potatoes. It's always a joy in the midst of a damp dull winter day to unseal the jar of brightly coloured vegetable pickle, like opening a pot of summer!