Pickling with Herbs
The art of pickling is easy and once the knack is learned almost everything from the veggie patch can be pickled to either prolong its life or give away as presents in a hamper at Christmas time.
There are many vegetables that can be pickled along with a few larder store favourites, however choosing the right herbs to add flavour is a must for a gorgeous display and a pretty pickling jar that will be welcomed by any family member.
Most people like a pickled egg, and these can be used as great sides on a boxing day buffet. Hard boil the eggs first and then leave to cool in the fridge. Eggs from your own chickens can make an especially good gift that is entirely homemade. Bantam eggs are beautiful and will not be found in any supermarket, whereas duck eggs are popular as pickled in the Philippines.
Using a big jar (ironically one that is used for pickled eggs from the supermarket will do, or for a few extra pennies, buy sterilized jars from the internet), half fill with the pickling vinegar. This should be transparent in colour.
Add the eggs one by one, creating an egg wall inside the jar. Don’t overfill as this may mean not all eggs pickle at the same time. Add a few coloured, pink or green, peppercorns to the vinegar, and then poke in some stalks of dill.
Leave for up to a month before giving to friends to enjoy!
Pickled beetroot is a firm favourite amongst any table of cold meats, making it the perfect side for Boxing Day leftover turkey and ham. Using beetroot from the veggie patch will not only give it a homemade feel, it will also taste much better. With the varieties of beetroot on offer, yellow beetroot can be used also, giving a unique twist to an age old condiment.
Boil the beetroot with the leaves on poking out of the pan. This helps keep all the dye contained as once the leaves are cut the beetroot will bleed losing some of its glorious colour and making a mess of the kitchen.
Using paper towel once cool enough to handle let the skins be rubbed off gently, then cool completely before adding to the jar with pickling vinegar.
Beetroot can be pickled whole, if baby beetroot, or in slices for larger varieties.
Martina Mercer recommends sprigs of rosemary for red beetroot pushed close up against the side of the jar so their decorative effect is not lost in the red liquid.
Other Pickling Partners
For yellow beetroot, lemon or orange thyme works very well and gives a subtle flavour throughout the vinegar that is lost in supermarket brands.
Other vegetables that can be pickled from the vegetable patch include:
See our garden plants page to discover more tips.