How to make pickles, chutneys and sauces
- Use ripe, but not over-ripe vegetables and fruit for making pickles, and fully ripe for chutney, relish and sauces.
- Cider vinegar is best for most preserves, but use malt vinegar for darker pickles. Vinegar must have 5% acetic acid – check the label. Vinegar is the preservative in pickles so always use the amount given in the recipe.
- Use white or brown sugar as you wish.
- Use whole spices tied in muslin for paler preserves, or ground spices for darker ones.
- Use iodised or non-iodised salt as you wish.
TECHNIQUES AND METHODS
- Always wash, drain and dry vegetables and fruit before you begin.
- Chutneys, relishes and sauces need at least 1 hour of cooking to thicken them and achieve a warm, rounded flavour so make a good-sized batch or the mixture may catch and burn on the bottom of the pan.
- Use an aluminium or stainless steel preserving pan for this sort of preserve, not a copper pan.
- Always use hot sterilised jars or bottles and fill close to the top. Less air space mean less likelihood of mould.
- You can leave chutneys and relishes to get cold in the jars, covered with a cloth, then cover with sterilised lids. Make sure metal lids are lined or the vinegar may make them rust.
- A food processor or blender is useful for making smooth sauces.
- Always label preserves and store them in a cool, dark place.
- Leave pickles, chutneys and sauces for at least a fortnight – and as long as two years – before using them. They improve and mellow with age.