Monday, 26 November 2012

Sweet and savoury preserving class

I am not entirely sure how I chanced upon the Culinary Anthropologist's website (a.k.a. Anna Colquhoun) , however it has been such a great discovery. I have now completed two of Anna's cooking classes. The first, which is documented here, was the Riverford Early Autumn Preserving workshop. I learnt such a great deal that day, met some lovely people and gorged myself on the perfect lunch complete with some of Anna's outstanding jellies, jams and chutneys. It is simply a wonderfully cosy and inspirational way to spend a day. The classes take place in her purpose built kitchen which is the ideal size and light filled space for her select classes of eight. Below my pictures from the day taken on my iphone which hopefully tell the story better than my words can.

My perfect kind of lunch: cheese, preserves and sourdough bread.

Passata -  image © Charlotte Tolhurst
Piccalilli -  image © Charlotte Tolhurst
Piccalilli -  image © Charlotte Tolhurst
Hedgeroe Jelly -  image © Charlotte Tolhurst
Hedgeroe Jelly -  image © Charlotte Tolhurst
Hedgeroe Jelly -  image © Charlotte Tolhurst
Plum Jam -  image © Charlotte Tolhurst

My jars from the course sat proudly on my counter for a week before being put away. It interested me that out of the five gorgeous jars, every person who laid eyes upon them exclaimed great interest in acquiring the Piccalilli. So, if you are wondering what home made gifts to make for Christmas, I'd say Piccalilli would be a good bet. Below you will find the recipe kindly given for use here by Anna.

Makes:  7+ 1lb jars

2 kgs prepared vegetables:  choose a colourful mix of cucumbers, carrots, onions/shallots, courgettes/marrows, bell peppers, cauliflowers, green beans, green tomatoes, sweetcorn kernels etc.

approx 8 tbsps fine pure salt

1050ml cider vinegar, white wine vinegar or malt vinegar

400g white granulated sugar

1 tbsp coriander seeds, crushed

1 tbsp cumin seeds, crushed

1 tbsp celery seeds

2 tbsps yellow mustard seeds

40g cornflour, or 60g plain flour

2 tbsps mustard powder

1 tbsp turmeric

1 tbsp powdered ginger

1.     Cut all the vegetables into matching 1cm dice, or bigger if you prefer.  Layer them in a big bowl with the salt and leave for several hours or, preferably, overnight.  Don't skip this step - salting is important for drawing out excess water which would otherwise dilute the pickle.

2.     Place your clean jars in the oven and turn it on to 140C to sterilise them.  Leave the jars in there until needed.  Rinse the vegetables in several changes of cold water and drain very well.

3.     Reserve a little cup of vinegar and place the rest in a large pan with the sugar, coriander, cumin, celery seeds and mustard seeds.  Heat to dissolve the sugar and simmer for five minutes.

4.     Stir the cornflour, mustard powder, turmeric and ginger into the reserved vinegar to make a paste.  Add some hot vinegar to this to loosen it, then pour the paste into the pan, stirring briskly as you do to avoid getting lumps.  Simmer for a few minutes, stirring.

5.     Now add the drained vegetables and simmer everything together for five minutes, stirring often.  I like the vegetables half-cooked, so they retain a little crunch.

6.     Pack the hot pickle into the hot jars, making sure there are no large air pockets, and seal immediately.  Wait one month before opening and use within a year.  Once opened, store in the fridge.

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