Tag: Pickling

Wild Garlic buds and Sea Kale shoots

A bit of a pickle!

To foragers, generally if they think about preserving wild foods, the techniques and foods that come to mind are drying seaweeds and mushrooms, freezing wild fruit and making jams, jellies and drinks.  There are however other techniques that the forager can make use of and they include pickling and fermenting. This post looks at pickling wild food.

Think of pickling and onions or eggs are the obvious things, but as well as garden / allotment / smallholding produce you can pickle all sorts of wild foods as a way of preserving them for consuming throughout the year.

Wild Garlic buds and Sea Kale shoots
Wild Garlic buds and Sea Kale shoots

What to pickle

As often with foraging and cooking, your imagination is the limit. Among the things you can try are:

  • Buds – Wild Garlic, Elder, Dandelion, Alexanders or Ox-Eye Daisy
  • Stems – Reed mace hearts, Rock Samphire, Alexanders, Fennel, saltmarsh plants individually or collectively (Sea Aster, Marsh Samphire, Sea Purslane, Annual Seablite etc.)
  • Flowers –  Magnolia flowers, Scots Pine Flowers, Hawthorn blossom
  • Seeds –  Wild Garlic Seeds, Ash keys
  • Miscellaneous – Burdock roots,  mushrooms (including Chanterelles and Jelly Ears), seaweeds (including Carrageen and Kelp), Walnuts, Limpets, Cockles!

Pickle Recipes

Recipes for making these vary enormously – experiment or find your own favourite. Pickles are straightforward to make. Essentially, they contain the wild food you want to pickle, vinegar, spices, salt and sometimes, sugar.

  • Vinegars – go for any of cider, white wine, red wine, malt or pickling vinegar. Pickling vinegar is usually malt vinegar with the spices already added for convenience. The vinegar should have a minimum acidity level of 5%.
  • Spices – your call but there are some suggested combinations below. Also try any of fennel seeds, mixed herbs, juniper berries, garlic cloves, star anise etc. For an easy life (to avoid having to make decisions!) you can buy pickling spice ready-made!
    • Mild – cinnamon, cloves, mace, whole allspice berries, white peppercorns, bay
    • Medium – cinnamon, cloves, white peppercorns, dried root ginger, mace, whole allspice berries
    • Hot – mustard seeds, dried chillies, chilli flakes, cloves, black peppercorns, whole allspice berries
    • Sweet – sugar (brown for brown malt vinegar, white for white malt or wine vinegar), whole allspice berries, whole cloves, coriander seeds, root ginger, cinnamon stick, blades of mace, lemon rind

Rules
The two basic rules for successful pickling are:

  • Jars and lids should be sterilised (washed in very hot (but not boiling), soapy water, then dried in a cool oven).
  • Your ingredients should be in good condition – fresh.

Pickled Wild Garlic Buds
Ingredients:
 Wild Garlic Buds

Wild Garlic Buds
Wild Garlic Buds

 200 ml vinegar
 ½ tablespoon caster sugar
 1 teaspoon salt
 15 black peppercorns
 ½ teaspoon fennel seeds

Method:
1. Use only stainless steel, enamel, or non-stick pans.
2. Wash and dry the buds (tea towel, salad spinner, kitchen roll etc.)
3. Put the buds into the jar.

Wild garlic buds
Put the buds into jars

4. Put the vinegar, sugar, salt and spices into a saucepan.
5. Heat until the sugar dissolves.
6. Pour over the garlic buds.

Buds with vinegar plus peppercorns, fennel seeds, sugar and salt
Buds with vinegar plus peppercorns, fennel seeds, sugar and salt (the buds float a bit).

7. Ensure that the lids are airtight.
8. Label and date each jar.
9. Store in a cool, dry and preferably dark place.
10. The buds are ready to eat in 2 weeks to a month.
11. If you find the pickle too acidic you can add more sugar or dilute slightly until you are happy.

Pickled Sea Kale Shoots
Ingredients:
Sea Kale shoots

Sea Kale Shoots
Sea Kale Shoots

Vinegar
Salt / sea salt
Black Peppercorns
Sugar

1. Wash the Sea Kale shoots
2. Blanch them by dropping them in a pan of boiling salted water for no more than 30 seconds.
3. Cool immediately in cold water.
4. Drain and dry (tea towel, salad spinner, kitchen roll etc.)
5. Pack Kale into a jar.
6. Cover with vinegar, add a pinch of salt, some peppercorns and teaspoon of sugar.
7. Ensure that the lids are airtight.

Pickled Sea Kale Shoots
Pickled Sea Kale Shoots

8. Label and date each jar.
9. Store in a cool, dry and preferably dark place.