TO It helps to have a pot of pickled vegetables in the fridge. The pickles (carrot, cucumber, radish, maybe some cabbage strips), but also the pickle juice itself, the astringent potion of vinegar and spices.
I make my own fridge pickles, although not all the time. It gives you the opportunity to increase the salt or decrease the sugar as you wish. (We are not talking about long-term storage here.) You can use allspice instead of juniper, mustard seeds instead of coriander, and take the pickle liqueur in whichever direction you choose: east (star anise and cloves), south (chillies and garlic), or north (juniper and dill) . I also include ready-made sauerkraut in mine.
Juice is what you need (just a tablespoon or so) to kick in life and rescue a cloying cream sauce or to lift your spirits from a salad dressing. The pickle itself is so much more than setting aside a piece of pork pie. I like to pour it over the blackened skin of a grilled mackerel fillet: the crispy, smoked skin with the vinegar is sensational; Fold the pickles and juice into an artichoke, parsley and watercress bottom salad or tuck it messily between the layers of a toasted sandwich.
This is sandwich season. If I can put my lunch between two slices of bread and eat it outside, I will. There will be cold salmon and cucumber sandwiches; crushed avocado and mozzarella; grilled tomato and aubergine or ham with french fries. Each and every one of them benefits from a dollop of homemade pickle – crisp, sharp, and shiny.
Summer pickled vegetables
The jars need to be sterilized if you want to keep the pickle for a period of time. Pour boiling water on them after washing or heat them in the oven. Pack the jars full, with the liquor on top.
Makes 2 medium Kilner jars.
cucumber 1 small
shallot 1 large
carrot 1 medium
Sauerkraut 6 heaping tablespoons
For the pickle:
White wine vinegar 6 tablespoons
cider vinegar 6 tablespoons
malt vinegar 5 tbsp
fennel seeds 2 teaspoons
black peppercorns fifteen
Juniper berries 8
powdered sugar 1 tsp
Salt 1 tsp
Peel the cucumber and cut it in half lengthwise. Scoop out the core and its seeds with a teaspoon and discard.
Cut the cucumber into 1 cm thick slices and place them in a large bowl. Peel the shallot, cut it into thin slices and add it to the cucumber. Rub the carrot and then, with a potato peeler, shave into long strips. Add these to the bowl, then slice thinly and add the radishes and sauerkraut.
In a small stainless steel saucepan, combine the vinegars, fennel seeds, peppercorns, and juniper berries. Add the sugar and salt and place over moderate heat. Bring to a boil, stirring until the sugar and salt have dissolved. Pour the hot pickle liquor over the vegetables and mix gently.
Transfer to clean, sterilized storage jars, seal, and refrigerate overnight.
Cheese and Pickle Sandwiches with Mustard and Butter
Spreading with mustard butter before grilling adds a crisp and delicious spice to the bread. It also causes the surface to brown more quickly, so it’s worth keeping a close eye on the bread’s progress as it cooks. A small skillet with rims is ideal, but a skillet is fine too. Press firmly against hot metal for a sharper finish.
Makes 2 sandwiches
summer vegetable pickle 4 tablespoons (see recipe above)
sourdough bread 4 slices
Dijon mustard 1 tsp
Coarsely grate the fontina. Melt the butter in a skillet and add the mustard; don’t worry if it doesn’t blend perfectly. Spread both sides of the bread with the mustard butter.
Heat a frying pan or frying pan. Divide the cheese between 2 of the bread slices. Drain the pickle, then pour it on top of the cheese, place the reserved bread slices on top, and press firmly. Place the sandwiches on the griddle or in the pan and press firmly with a spatula or a weight.
When the bottom of the sandwich is golden brown, flip it over and cook the other side. When the cheese is soft and the bread is golden, eat it immediately.
Guacamole, pickle and mozzarella bagel
I prefer avocado that is not overripe. Pickle juice cuts through oily meat and also keeps its color bright.
Red pepper 1, small
grain mustard 2 teaspoons
coriander leaves a small handful
lime ½ juice
olive oil 1 tablespoon
mozzarella cheese 1 scoop of 200 g
summer vegetable pickle 8 tablespoons (see recipe above)
Cut in half, pit and peel the avocados. Put the pulp in a bowl and then mash it with a fork. Finely chop the chilli and add it to the bowl. Add the mustard, coriander leaves, lime juice, and olive oil for a mustard seed freckled heavy cream.
Divide the bagels in half and toast the cut side under a hot grill or in a toaster until slightly crisp. Cut the mozzarella into large, irregular pieces and place them in the bottom half of the toasted bagels. Spread generously with the avocado cream. Place the pickle on top and place the other half of the bagel on top and serve.
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George is Digismak’s reported cum editor with 13 years of experience in Journalism