About this blog

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Wales, United Kingdom
In autumn 2010, my husband Ian and I both quit our jobs, sold our house and left the flatlands of the east for the mountains of Wales. Our goal is to create a more self-sufficient lifestyle in a place we actually like living. Whilst Ian will continue to earn some money as a freelancer, my part of the project is to reduce how much we spend by growing and making as much of what we need as possible. The purpose of this blog is to keep friends updated with how the grand project is progressing, but all are welcome here. If you're not a friend already, well perhaps you might become one.

Saturday, 16 January 2016

In a pickle

Since my early experiments with pickling samphire, I have decided that I prefer vinegar-pickled to lacto fermented for this vegetable. I tried to make vinegar for this, but it didn't go well, so I had to buy some. I looked at the expensive stuff, I looked at pickling vinegar, the nice stuff was about three times the price, so I bought the pickling vinegar.

When I got it home and opened the bottle, it was a bit rough. Oh well, you get what you pay for, I suppose. I used it for the samphire anyway, then wondered what else I might preserve, to use up all that pickling vinegar. It would have to be something with a good strong flavour, to stand up to the rather harsh vinegar.

This was in late October, around the time we might expect the first frost. Walking past my nasturtium plants, it occurred to me 1) that they would soon be reduced to slimy mush by frost, and 2) that they were covered in green seeds. I've heard of pickling nasturtium seeds before - apparently they make a good alternative to capers. Now, I don't eat a lot of capers, but the peppery flavour of nasturtiums would surely stand up well to the cheap pickling vinegar, and if I wanted to try it, I'd have to get a move on. I picked all that I could find, chucked them in a jar and poured vinegar over them.

One small jar of nasturtium seeds, pickling

Shortly after that, I saw a bag of pickling onions for sale in the supermarket for £1, so I bought them. Following Pam Corbin's suggestion, I added some sugar to the pickling vinegar for these, but otherwise didn't do much to them. So I now have pickled samphire, nasturtium seeds, and onions, and still a bit of vinegar left.

The nasturtium seeds are fantastic! I can't see the resemblance to capers, myself. Mind you, I can't think of any other way to describe the flavour, either. They retain their peppery kick, though, and I love them on pizza. The onions are... pickled onions. Pretty good ones. I like them. I still think the samphire is the best, even if it's not quite as good as it would be in better quality vinegar. On a wholemeal biscuit with a bit of mascarpone cheese, it's hard to beat.

I think this might actually have been a chestnut biscuit. Even better.


  1. OK... I had to go do a google search for samphire, and I am sooo relieved to learn that it's a plant and not some sort of worm-like animal. Whew!

    Anyhow, I had a bumper crop of cucumbers this year, so I made refrigerator pickles. I'm still too nervous to try any sort of preserving that sits at room temperature, but my pickles turned out wonderful! I just used cheap distilled white vinegar with sugar and spices. I was really amazed that they actually taste like pickles! This is a real treat for me because, since I'm allergic to celery and dill - and I've never found a commercially made pickle that doesn't contain at least one of those - I haven't had a pickle in over 20 years! I've got plenty now! :-)

    1. Haha, I forgot that samphire is not vegetable that people normally know about!

      The thing with preserving in vinegar is to make sure the vinegar is strong enough. This means buying strong enough in the first place, and not diluting it too much. With something very wet like cucumber, I'd be a bit nervous of it, too. Samphire is quite wet, too, but it's also full of salt, as it grows in salt water, so it's virtually self-preserving.

      I'd use cheap white vinegar too, if I could find it, because then you can add whatever flavours you want. Unfortunately, the only white vinegar I could find was sold for cleaning, and I would want to be on that being food safe.

      Oh, and hooray for home-made! The best way to get the food you want, with only the ingredients you want in it :-)

    2. ... wouldn't want to BET on that being food safe.

      I must clean this keyboard!


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