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Pickles and preserves

I fell in love with pickling - quite by accident, actually. I wanted to find a way to make a carrot chutney, or preserve, and I perchanced upon a blog by a self-sustaining foodie freak, who had the most amazing recipe for brined carrots. 

The Blog went on to explain that not all pickling is done through using a spiced vinegar - although, that, naturally, has its place. No; much of the food preservation which went on when we were twinkles in our daddies' eyes, was done by salting food, or immersing it in a pre-made brine. 

This obviously, is the olde-worlde traditional method used in modern times too, but has fallen into the Artisan category, with regard to the preservation of meats, like Parma ham, or salame. 

(Incidentally, I am an Italian person, 'born and bred', even though my passport insists I'm British.... And I have a ghastly vice with a virtuous conclusion. I am perhaps the worst Grammar-Nerd you could possibly ever encounter.... But I digress!)

To be honest, when I first read the recipe, I found it hard to believe that such a simple process could result in such a delicious end-product. But - prepare to be amazed - it worked. Now, nothing is safe from my pickling habits, and if it doesn't move, it's under brine in no time! 

I have pickled carrots, Khol Rabi, Daikon radish, cauliflower, and even iceberg lettuce. I also pickled some new vegetables I found in an Indian delicatessen, called Tindora. I have also successfully made a Korean spiced pickle, called Kimchi (apparently actually pronounced 'Ghim-chee') and the ubiquitous and especially delicious sauerkraut - which has turned out to be a gazillion times better and more tasty than any commercially-bought jar of the stuff, you could find. 


Here is the Carrot in brine recipe:

(It's best to use some salt like Maldon flaked salt, or a good quality coarse sea salt that has no anti-coagulant or iodine. Both inhibit the presence of the bacteria needed to pickle/ferment the vegetable).

Makes 1 quart.

Prep Time: 3 days to 2 weeks, depending on how tangy you like your carrots



  • 2 pounds small carrots, peeled
  • 4 cups water
  • 1/4 cup kosher/sea/pickling/coarse salt
  • 1 sprig of fresh thyme (optional)
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 dried hot chilli
  • 1 teaspoon cracked black peppercorns or Szechuan peppercorns
  • 8 whole juniper berries (optional)



  • Cut the carrots into discs the size you would want to eat at a cocktail party. Or leave them whole. Or split them in half lengthwise. The key here is to keep the thickest part of any piece no wider than about 1 inch. 
  • Toss the carrot pieces in a tablespoon of salt, and leave for about an hour, turning occasionally to keep them all coated in the briny juice which will develop.... 
  • During this time, boil the salt, water, bay leaves, black peppercorns and chilli for a minute or so, then turn off the heat and let this cool to room temperature. This gets the flavours melding. 
  • Rinse the carrots under cold running water, drain well, and pat dry with a clean teacloth. If possible, fold into a teacloth, and allow to dry for a half hour or so. 
  • Once the brine has cooled to room temperature, pack the carrots and the thyme sprig into a clean sterile Mason jar and pour the brine over them, making sure the jars all get some of the spices. 
  • You will have leftover brine. Pour this into a clean container, seal and keep in the fridge, for any further use, or topping up required. 
  • Take a small food bag, and fit this into the top of the jar, until the base is resting on the brine. Fill the bag with some fresh cold water to completely fill the gap between the brined vegetables and the mouth of the jar. You want the carrots to be completely submerged in the brine. Alternately, fill a smaller jar that will just barely fit into the pickling jar with some water, (make sure the base is scrupulously clean) screw on the lid and use that to prevent the carrots from contact with air. If the veggies hit air while fermenting, you get mould.
  • Keep the jar at normal room temperature for least 10-14 days. What’s cool? Cooler than 22 degrees. Like many things that ferment, 18 degrees is about perfect. Don’t go colder that 12 degrees. I ferment at about 20 degrees. You can leave the carrots in longer if you want — they will be saltier and tangier. I often ferment these carrots for a full 2 weeks. The fact that a fermentation process is taking place will be evident by the amount of bubbling and activity in the jar, as gasses released rise to the surface. You’ll know when fermentation is complete; when the mix stops bubbling.

     Once you have noticed that all bubbling has stopped, remove the bag or small jar from your pickling jar. To store your pickles, either do as I do and simply screw the cap on the pickles and put them in the fridge, or you can pour off the brine into a clean pan and boil it. When it is cool, pour it back into the jar with the carrots and seal it up. If you want your pickles to be shelf-stable, you must boil the brine and then simmer it for 15 minutes or so, adding a little extra spring water to make up for evaporation. Subsequently, kept in the fridge, these pickles will last up to 6 months.


  • Orchid LadyOrchid Lady Posts: 5,800

    Fab idea Taramaiden, I was going to start a thread on using excess fruit/veg but this seems to fill that requirement image

  • TaraMaidenTaraMaiden Posts: 46

    I'm so glad! I hope you add all your preserve recipes to the thread - that's what it's here for! look forward to reading your posts!!

    I don't know of any other "breed" on the planet who willingly and lovingly share as much as gardeners do!

  • Orchid LadyOrchid Lady Posts: 5,800

    I'll have to dig them out and I don't have that many, more for jams really as I'm just learning but I do love cooking/baking/jamming etc image

  • TaraMaidenTaraMaiden Posts: 46

    When it comes to savoury preserves, I'm "your gal"... I have never really successfully made any jams, marmalades or sweet chutneys. Not because I don't like them, but I've never had the opportunity. I also don't have a very sweet tooth. But when it comes to home-made tomato sauces, pickles, savoury preserves and the suchlike, I'm right there! 

  • TaraMaidenTaraMaiden Posts: 46

    Korean Kimchi (pronounced Ghim-Chee)  

    1 (2-pound) head Napa cabbage*
    1/4 cup coarse sea salt or kosher salt (see Recipe Notes)
    Water (see Recipe Notes)
    about 5-6 garlic cloves, peeled.
    1 two-inch piece peeled ginger.
    1 teaspoon sugar
    2-3 tablespoons Nam Pla, (optional, see Recipe Notes) or water
    3 heaped tablespoons of good quality paprika

    1 - 4 tsps of hot chilli powder (to taste: start with 1 and adjust accordingly, with the next batch you make, if the mix isn’t hot enough.)

    8 ounces Korean radish or daikon, peeled and cut into matchsticks
    4 spring onions, trimmed and cut into 1-inch pieces


    Cutting board and knife 
    Large bowl
    Rubber gloves (optional but highly recommended)
    Plate and something to weigh the Napa cabbage down, like a jar or can of beans
    Small bowl
    Clean and sterilised 1-quart jar with canning lid or plastic lid. (I used a clip-seal ‘tupperware’-style sandwich box!)



    1. Cut the cabbage. Cut through the heart of the cabbage lengthwise then push your thumbs into the cut and prise the heart apart to divide the cabbage into two. Repeat with each half, until the cabbage is quartered.  Remove the cores. Cut each quarter crosswise into 2-inch-wide strips.


    1. Salt the cabbage. Place the cabbage and salt in a large bowl. Using your hands (gloves optional), massage the salt into the cabbage until it starts to soften a bit, then press it down firmly, and add just enough bottled or filtered water to cover the cabbage. Stir, then put a plate on top and weigh it down with something heavy, like a large jar or a couple of cans of beans (I use a plastic 2L. milk carton, filled with water). Let stand for 1-2 hours.


    1. Rinse and drain the cabbage. Rinse the cabbage under cold water 3 times and drain in a colander for 15-20 minutes. If possible, spin the cabbage in a salad spinner. Turn out the cabbage onto a clean teacloth, and fold this over to envelop the cabbage, to dry off a little more. Rinse and dry the bowl you used for salting, and set it aside to use in step 5.


    1. Make the paste. Meanwhile, combine the garlic, ginger, sugar, and seafood flavour (or 3 tablespoons water) in a small bowl and mix to form a smooth paste. Mix in the paprika, and the chilli powder, using 1 teaspoon for mild and up to 5 teaspoons for spicy (I like about 3 1/2 teaspoons, although it also obviously depends how hot the chilli powder is to begin with…).


    1. Combine the vegetables and paste. Gently squeeze and dry off any remaining water from the cabbage and return it to the bowl along with the radish, spring onions, and seasoning paste.



    1. Mix thoroughly. Using your hands, gently work the paste into the vegetables until they are thoroughly coated. The gloves are optional here but highly recommended to protect your hands from stings, stains, and smells!


    1. Pack the kimchi into the jar. Pack the kimchi into the jar, pressing down on it until the brine rises to cover the vegetables. Leave at least 1-inch of headspace above the brine. Seal the jar with the lid.


    1. Let it ferment. Let the jar stand at room temperature for 5 - 10 days. You may see bubbles inside the jar and brine may seep out of the lid; place a bowl or plate under the jar to help catch any overflow.


      1. Check it daily and refrigerate when ready. Check the kimchi once a day, pressing down on the vegetables with a clean finger or spoon to keep them submerged under the brine. (This also releases gases produced during fermentation.) Taste a little at this point, too! When the kimchi tastes ripe enough for your liking, transfer the jar to the refrigerator.

      You can judge when Kimchi is ready to refrigerate; when it’s finished bubbling. That indicates that fermentation has taken place; it will continue, but at a much slower rate. If you now put the kimchi into the fridge, it will slow down considerably more….


      You may eat it right away, but it's best after another week or so.




                      Recipe Notes  
      • Salt: Use coarse sea salt that is free of iodine and/or anti-caking agents, which can inhibit fermentation.
      • Water: Chlorinated water can inhibit fermentation, so use spring, distilled, or filtered water if you can.
      • Seafood flavour and vegetarian alternatives: Seafood gives kimchi an umami flavour. Different regions and families may use fish sauce, salted shrimp paste, whole raw oysters, and even raw, sliced squid. At one point, finding myself without Nam Pla, I used two whole anchovies, and 2 teaspoons of powdered shrimp, with 5 tablespoonsful of water. Worked a treat!  For vegetarian kimchi, you can use 3/4 teaspoon kelp powder mixed with 3 tablespoons water, or simply 3 tablespoons of water.


      *As you become more confident in making kimchi, you can vary the ingredients according to whatever you want to add, or leave out. For example, I have made a kimchi entirely of just finely shredded carrot and daikon radish. My latest attempt is using khol rabi, small summer purple-top turnips, carrots and small pieces of cauliflower stalks, all cut to the same fine thickness on slicer…. Try different vegetables, courgettes and cauliflower florets. Unrestrain your imagination!


      ~ ~ ~ ~



  • TaraMaidenTaraMaiden Posts: 46

    The stage numbering lost continuity in copying and pasting - but if you copy & paste, I'm sure you'll be able to follow it!  Hope you enjoy it - I love mine - I devour it by the bucketload! 

  • TaraMaidenTaraMaiden Posts: 46

    I hope you enjoy it - as I suggested in the recipe, give it a bit of a kick by all means, but as it pickles and matures, the flavours intensify - and my first effort nearly blew my head off....! so be initially cautious with the hot stuff!

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