It is easy to get flustered at this time of year when radishes go to seed so fast, courgettes double in size each day and there are more beans on the vine than you know what to do with.
One way to use up the abundance, is to pickle things. I’m not big on food processing, but each year, I like to stash a few jars in the cupboard to add to salads or canapes when the garden is not as abundant as mid-summer. I love the sweet, salty, vinegaryness of a good pickle. In fact my mouth is watering just writing the sentence!
Here I will share my favourite pickling liquid. I use this for whatever I pickle – perhaps adding different herbs according to what I have available. It is a very satisfying and easy task – in just an hour or so, you have half a dozen completed jars to store. I assume everyone has a favourite pickling liquid, but as I have occasionally been asked for mine, I am writing it down for easy reference.
Earlier in the year, I pickled fennel. That is a winner. Fennel bulbs retain their crunch – even after a year – and the slight aniseed flavour is great with the pickling juice. My fennel is all flowering now, so I added a few flowers to my jars.
Nasturtium seed capers are a good replacement for actual imported capers. Pick them when they are small and green. If you leave them too long on the plant, they become woody.
Another great pickle to make is young spekboom leaves. I haven’t made any this year, but probably will this week as all the rain means the leaves are very succulent. I finished my last jar from last year just a few weeks ago.
This year I had left the radishes to form pods especially so I could pickle them. Rat’s Tail Radishes they are called. So, so yummy – and very pretty to use as a garnish. Pickled sliced radishes are good too. I also picked young black beans to see how they would work, and of course, tried to use up a few marrows. I haven’t tasted them yet, but am pretty sure they will be good.
So here you go:
Cram clean jars full of radish pods/slices of courgette/whole little beans/whatever.
• 1 litre wine vinegar
• 1 small onion, sliced
• 3 cloves garlic, sliced
• 2 bay leaves and sprigs of thyme
• 3 tablespoons of Kalahari salt
• 3 tablespoons of sugar
• 3 – 5 big pieces of lemon zest
• Good quality olive oil
Heat your vinegar on the stove with the onion, garlic, sugar, salt, bay and thyme.
Once the vinegar mix is hot, add the lemon zest. Don’t boil it, then remove from heat.
Taste your mix – it should be bitter-sweet. You can add more sugar or salt if you like to adjust – you want your taste buds to shout ‘delicious’ and start salivating. Everyone has a different preference.
While the mixture is hot, pour over the veggies to fill the jars. Top with good quality olive oil so that the vinegar mix and veggies is completely covered and seal your jar.
I store the jars in a dark cupboard. They seem to last for ages.
Whenever I am down in Hilcrest, I fill up lots of reusable containers with South African vinegar from Good Source. If I run out, then I buy local vinegar in a glass bottle that I can use for cordial when empty.
I would like to learn proper fermenting, rather than using vinegar, salt and sugar, to achieve interesting tangy flavour that is actually good for you. If you are also keen to learn the basis of fermenting, give me a shout and I will try and set something up.