Thursday 11 August 2011

Laying something by - green tomato spiced pickle

As we come to the end of the summer it is time to get out the preserving pots, pans and jars to make pickles and chutneys and stock up our cupboards for the winter. Once upon time it would also have been time to start thinking about laying meat down for the winter.
Curing meat at home had become a thing of the past but in recent years there has been a renaissance of interest and small producers of cured foods are popping up all over the country. There is James Swift at Trealy Farm who now makes a huge range of continental type dried cured meat and salamis. I popped over to his new production house in Wales recently and I was bowled over by the sweet scent and the sight of rows and rows of freshly cured meats hanging to dry: something I never imagined I would ever experience in this country. This year we are to hold the first British Charcuterie Festival in London; running from 28 – 30 October at the Festival Hall.
I shall be demonstrating at the festival and also teaching hands on curing at the Chef’s Room in November but I will also be holding monthly Curing classes from September to February at Hart’s Barn in the Forest of Dean featuring preserving, smoking, curing, Xmas gifts, French farmhouse and raw.

Sweet and sour spiced green tomato pickle
This recipe is a gift for anyone who is left with a glut of unripe tomatoes at the end of the season. It is unusual as it is made with slices of tomato that are cooked very gently, so they retain their shape and colour. It looks really nice on the plate and is delicious with cold cooked and cured meats, cheeses, eggs and English breakfast!

4 x 250g glass jars with lid, washed in soapy water, rinsed, drained and heated in a low oven

1 kg green tomatoes, thinly sliced
2 medium sized onions, thinly sliced
50 g fine sea salt
½ teaspoon whole cloves
½ teaspoon whole allspice
1 teaspoon white peppercorns
½ tablespoon black mustard seeds
1 tablespoon yellow mustard seeds
250 g light cane sugar
250 ml cider vinegar

Layer the sliced tomatoes and onions in a large bowl with salt and leave to stand overnight covered with a clean tea towel.
The following day drain off the salt water and carefully rinse the tomatoes in fresh water and leave to drain well then transfer to a preserving pan. Tie up the spices in a piece of muslin and put that in the pan. Add the vinegar.

Put the pan containing the ingredients on a medium heat and bring gently to simmering point, stirring regularly until the sugar has dissolved. Continue to simmer for 45 – 60 minutes until the vegetables are tender but still intact and the vinegar has become syrupy.

Do not leave the pickle unattended it is essential to stir the pan regularly otherwise the pickle will stick and burn.

Leave to rest, say 20 minutes before potting. Spoon the chutney into warm sterile pots and seal but first cover the surface of the pickle with discs of waxed paper. Leave to cool before labelling. Store in the dark for at least a month before opening!