This week's Recipeshed is being hosted by The Boy And Me and the theme is Preserves and Chutneys.In my quest to get back to basics vis-a-vis food, I've tried to eliminate all sorts of processed and ready-made foods. This also makes grocery shopping a lot cheaper. I'm not fanatical about it and I still buy yogurts, butter and cheeses, jam, mayonaise and other condiments, dried pasta, bread, and frozen rolls of flakey pastry. Frozen vegetables are a Godsend and I sometimes indulge in oven chips. One thing that has always bothered me, however, is tinned food. For a start they use up so many resources to make and they can be dangerous when disposed of in landfill. I also question their safety when we are advised not to store remaining food in the opened tin.
I've always wanted to make my own pickles and I did quite a bit of research in my own collection of cookery books and on the internet. One friend shared a family recipe with me, and others have confirmed that her pickles are delicious. But there were so many ingredients and a number of stages. I knew it had to be simpler than that. Finally I have hit upon a recipe that takes five minutes to make, involves four ingredients (including the cucumbers), and is cheap to boot.
I buy about 20 of the small Mediterranean cucumbers (no problem as I live in the Med-region) wash them and top'n'tail them. I put three tablespoons of demerrara sugar in a glass (pyrex) dish and dissolve it with a cup of boiling water. Then I pour in about 1 litre of the cheapest vinegar on sale. I arrange the cucumbers in the liquid (adding water if they are not covered by the liquid), cover the dish and leave in the fridge. They can last a couple of weeks or more - but rarely do. I also add baby onions but you don't have to. You can use the same liquid for a second round of cucumbers - they come out milder but just as tasty.
DD loves munching on a pickled cucumber - "A big one Mummy, and don't cut it!" I cut both the cucs and the onions into my chopped salad (basically with a tomato and dress with olive oil, lemon juice, salt and pepper). Also useful to have something to grab when you feel that you may be on the way to the biscuit barrel.