All in a pickle
I would like to talk about home economics this month and give you ways of storing food to give you the best product but also avoid waste where possible. According to the latest statistics as a nation we waste up to 7 million tons per year of food, mostly salad and bread. To avoid this here is one way to reduce your waste but maximize and preserve the goodness in your fresh vegetables.
I grow a lot of vegetables in my garden and with all the best will in the world cannot eat all I grow, I give them away to family and friends but my "geeky” passion is preserving and canning.
My favorite methods for preserving are pickling and smoking, pickled radish and cabbage are great for the larder as well as semi dried oven tomatoes in oil, all of which are easy to produce and quite fun, at the same time.
I have out lined the basics to brine and pickling below, give it a try.
Basic Brine Recipe
- Harvest your garden vegetable of choice when it is slightly immature, wash thoroughly.
- Prepare vegetables as you want them to be in the finished product. Cut the corn off the cob, string the green beans, chop the cabbage, slice the beets, etc. Some small vegetables are best left whole for pickling.
- Weigh your prepared vegetables, (you will need to know the weight for later additions of salt) then place the vegetables in a large glass jar. Cover with brine.
- Brine solution is made by dissolving 1 cup salt (240 ml) in 2 quarts of water (2.27 liters). Mix and measure enough brine solution to completely cover the vegetables.
- You will need to place something directly on top of the pickling vegetables to weigh them down and keep them submerged in the brine. A heavy stone-wear plate or a glass canning jar filled with water will work. You can loosely cover the jar you are using for brining with a kitchen towel, but do not use a tight fitting lid.
- Place the jar of brining vegetables in a cool, dark location. They will remain there for 6 weeks.
- On the second day of the brining process, add 1 cup of salt for every 5 pounds of vegetables (2.27 kg) to the brining solution. Add the correct amount of salt by pouring it onto the plate you are using to weight the vegetables down or by putting the salt into a cloth and adding it to the jar. The slow release of the added salt is key to the brining process. The plate used as a weight will eventually become covered with brine and the salt absorbed into the jar. The added salt should not be poured directly into the brine, it will go directly to the bottom of the jar and make the brine to strong at the bottom.
- Every 7 days throughout 6 week brining process, add 1/4 cup of salt for every 5 pounds of vegetables (2.27 kg). Add the salt in the same manner as the first application, via plate or cloth.
- Remove any scum that forms on top of the brine periodically. If the scum is left, it will destroy the acidity of the brine and spoil your vegetables.
- The brine will begin to bubble at about 2 weeks, this is part of the normal fermentation process. In about 6 weeks, you will have pickled vegetables ready for processing. The addition of spice and herbs add that extra zing.
- For stale bread try a summer bread pudding or croutons for the larder, they keep for ages in a sealed container and with salad or soup add a crunch and texture.
We will be trialing some grab and go salads on the salad bar. Macrobiotics and whole grains, sprouting shoots and raw foods with an optional dressing if required, these should be available for the summer for you to grab and enjoy the sunshine. Also there’s a fresh daily detoxify smoothie or juice.
As you have probably seen in the supermarkets the berries have arrived, strawberries and raspberries are particularly good, spring greens and English asparagus are here but in short supply but high demand which unfortunately has pushed the price up, peas and broad beans are coming but slowly, you might have noticed the fantastic heritage cherry tomatoes we have in the Café, they come from our growers in Hereford under glass and have been received very well at market.
For a splash of color and great taste, edible flowers are a great addition to any salad, borage, violets and the humble pansy are my favorite for salads but jasmine and rose petals are brilliant for deserts too. Many thanks and as always, please raise any comments and feed back to me in the restaurant.
Executive Head Chef, Simon