Thursday, August 10, 2006
A case of the flu over the weekend meant that I had even more time than usual on the internet to read (and drool) over the food blogs in my favorites list. It's winter here in Australia and Saturday was suitably cold and miserable. I was coughing, spluttering and thinking about cooking some warm and hearty when I came across Orangette's post about pickles and all things with vinegar.
My husband and I love just about all things pickled - we go through at least a jar of gherkins a week, standing in the kitchen after work with forks passing the jar between us while we decide what to have for dinner. It is impossible for us to eat Japanese food with out least a couple of types of Japanese pickles (tsukemono) - he prefers the bright purple eggplant variety I prefer the pickled plums (umeboshi).
Being sick I wanted something easy - not too many steps and something that wouldn't be ruined if I took a nap halfway through. I settled on bread and butter zucchini pickles from Stephanie Alexander's huge stripy bible. The fitted the bill being simple to prepare (slice and soak in brine then add vinegar) and there was built in time for a nap.
I have to admit when I first tasted them just as they were made I wasn't overly impressed, they were nice, vinergary and sweet but nothing special. When I took them out of the fridge two days later to have a forkful while I waited for meat to defrost for dinner it was an entirely different experience. Crunchy and tart but with a lovely pungent mustard flavour perfect for cold meat sandwiches and hotdogs.
Bread and butter zucchini pickles
(from Stephanie Alexander's The cooks companion)
The original recipe makes 1 litre of pickle, not having enough jars for that amount I halved the recipe. I've put the full recipe here as some of the measurements get tricky halved (I'm no good at fractions) and they are so good and easy next time I'll make a full batch. They keep for 2 months in the fridge.
1kg small zucchini sliced
3 onions finely sliced
1/2 cup salt
3 cups white-wine vinegar
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 Tbsp yellow mustard seeds
1 tsp dry mustard
2 tsp ground tumeric
Toss the zucchini and onions with the salt in a non-reactive bowl and cover with water. Let the vegetables soak in the brine solution for 1 hour, then rinse well and drain in a colander. I rinsed them 4-3 times - they were really salty. Return to the bowl.
Combine the remaining ingredients in a saucepan and stir over a gentle heat till the sugar has dissolved. Bring to a boil and pour over zucchini. Leave to cool.
The recipe says use at once or pack into sterilized jars and refrigerate. I highly recommend not using then right away and letting the flavour develop at least overnight - if not a couple of days.