So after a lovely day of wine and song, Sunday was crunch time. I had managed to find a couple of recipes for pickled courgette and the one that appealed to me most was the one from Selma’s Table. I really liked the inclusion of fennel and that the recipe didn’t use water. However, for my version, I elected to add some mustard seeds, both black and yellow, and from my first batch, left out the chilli.
Given the quantity of courgettes I had to deal with, I ramped up Selma’s recipe. I was, however, a little hampered by the amount of white wine vinegar I had in my pantry for the brine. That said, in the end, I still managed to use up 2,5 kg…
This is what I did and how I adapted the original recipe.
Start by salting the courgettes and onions:
1,5 courgettes + another 1kg-odd
3 red onions + 1 (the last of our 2014 crop)
6 + 2 tablespoons of salt
2 habañero chilis for the second batch
Trim and slice the courgettes; peel and thinly slice the red onions. In a large bowl, layer the onion slices, broken into rings, with the courgette slices. Liberally sprinkle each layer with the salt. Place in the fridge for at least an hour – mine was longer because I was waiting for the brine to cool.* If your fridge is full, make space for the bowl: this makes sure that the courgettes stay crunchy.
Now make the brine:
1,2 L white wine or cider vinegar
800g white sugar (Selma advocates white sugar and says that golden sugar interferes with the clarity of the brine)
1 tsp turmeric
1tsp fennel seeds (also harvested from our garden)
1tsp coriander seeds
½ tsp each black and yellow mustard seeds
Dry roast the last four ingredients by placing in a hot, dry pan, shaking them about from time to time, until they are fragrant and start popping.
Put the vinegar, sugar and the spices into a stainless steel or enamel (not aluminium) pot. Bring this mixture to a boil and then reduce the heat and simmer for about 5 minutes. Then cool the brine to room temperature.
Once the brine has cooled, layer the courgette and onion mixture in sterilised jars. You will find that the courgettes have released quite a bit of water – drain this off but do not rinse. Once you’ve packed the jars, pour the brine into the jars using a skewer down the side to release as much air as possible. Seal and then turn upside down for a while to ensure that the seeds are well distributed.
I found that I had quite a bit of brine left, so I prepared another 1 kg of courgette (quantities of salt and onion adjusted accordingly). This time round, I sliced up the last (two) of our habañero chillies from the garden and added them to the layers of salted onion and courgette.
For those who like instant gratification, and who are new to pickling, these are the perfect choice for beginners: they are ready to eat the next day. Good Friend and Most Loyal Customer (and sometime-guinea pig, especially for things with chilli in them), had this to say:
…the Pickled Courgettes were THE BEST nearly ate the whole bottle last night…
The flavour is sweet-sour and the crunch is fantastic. We had courgette pickles for lunch the next day, with some brie and stilton. All we were short of because it was a weekday lunch was a glass of good red wine for me and/or a beer for The Husband!
And then they were still not done….
With still more in the fridge, and in addition to the usual repertoire, I decided to use ribbons (made with a potato peeler) as a base for a salad. These slices were dressed in a light vinaigrette (French dressing) to which I added some basil pesto. This was piled onto a platter, surrounded with half slices of tomato and then topped with pickled peppers and chopped chives. The result was not only pretty to look at but delicious to eat, so we’ve had that a couple of times, too….with the tomatoes chopped into the salad and without the peppers.
* keeping the courgette and onion slices in the fridge and making sure that the brine is cold is critical for making crunchy pickles
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