The domestic goddess has been stirring in my breast of late. As a rule, I can usually slap her back down. I am very reluctant to establish high expectations on the domestic front as it can only lead to tears – and not necessarily mine. However, I suspect a lingering feeling of redundancy brought on by the three month absence of my youngest, who is in Canada on a student exchange, has given that vixen an added burst of strength. As a result I have found myself wandering to the kitchen with a sense of purpose more frequently than usual in the last week or so and the (remaining) grateful family have enjoyed the products of my niggling insecurities – as well they might. Who knows how long I can sustain this?
Not only have I baked up storm (admittedly not all that unusual for me), but I’ve been testing some recipes from a review copy of a fine new cookbook (watch this space), churning out regular meals and whipping up vats of carb-dense food for my only son to take on the weekend of debauchery he has planned to celebrate the completion of his school career. Oh, and I’ve been doing a spot of pickling, too!
A few weeks back I succumbed to temptation and purchased myself some very fine looking preserving jars from a US website called Kaufmann Mercantile. Normally I try quite hard to avoid this kind of extravagance as the guilt I feel from the carbon footprint incurred sucks all the joy from my purchase, but these jars were just so very desirable that I became weak and helpless. Coincidentally, I have been lurking around some of the fantastic US-based canning and preserving blogs that are around. (Try Food in Jars and Canning Jars Etc. to begin with.) They take their preserving seriously over there and offer a wealth of resources, so the advent of the first of the summer produce here in Australia was just what I’d been waiting for.
This recipe for pickled cucumbers is my own adaptation of a Greg Malouf recipe from his glorious book “Turquoise”. I never realised how simple the process was – it’s not rocket science and can be done and dusted in around ten minutes. I considered whether to refrigerate these immediately or to let them begin to ferment a little first. However, Botulism is such an ugly word so I erred on the side of caution and put them straight in the fridge where they will sit for a week or so before I unveil them.
- 500 gms small, green cucumbers
- 1 tsp fennel seeds, cracked
- 1 tsp coriander seeds, cracked
- 1 small bulb of fresh fennel, chopped
- 2 cloves garlic, finely sliced
- 1/2 cinnamon stick
- 1 cup filtered water
- 1 cup apple cider vinegar
- 1 tsp sea salt
- Prepare your jars by scalding with boiling water, or running through a hot dishwasher cycle, then standing in an oven, preheated to 150C for 10 minutes.
- Wash cucumbers, top and tail them, slice into sticks.
- Place garlic, fennel, and spices into bottom of sterilised jars.
- Pack cucumber sticks in jar, upright, with cinnamon nestled in the middle.
- Bring water, cider vinegar and salt to boil, then pour over cucumber, ensuring it is covered.
- Seal jars, allow to cool, then refrigerate.