Almost as good as Nan’s Pickles
This week mark’s the first anniversary of this blog. Hooray! Coincidentally, it also falls on “World Champagne Day” (as deemed by Dan Murphy’s advertising, but hey, I am not going to research that one!) So I wanted to share something a bit special. Given that birthdays were on my mind, and my beautiful Nan turned 103 last September , I wanted to share this Sweet Mustard Pickles recipe. Mmmm, pickles. Now Nan’s pickles were special, and like most things were handed down. My Mum is not a pickle maker, so I originally got the recipe from Auntie Jan several years ago.
Turned out there were really too few instructions here for me when family support was 2 hours away, so I looked for something similar in the good old Women’s Weekly Cookbook gifted to me by my sisters as an engagement present. Yep. All vintage this post!
Now, I am assuming that you know about Sweet Mustard Pickles. How they can be both sweet and savoury at same time. How they can take a bit of left over corned beef and elevate it to a gourmet sandwich. Transform some cheese and bread to a ploughman’s lunch. Why the hard sell on the Sweet Mustard Pickles? Because they take some work. And time. And more work. The good news is that you end up with a big batch that lasts for ages. The bad news is, people think you are willing to gift it in exchange for a few scabby old jam jars that they have not even taken the labels off. This batch was made in time for Father’s Day, and was “gratefully” received by Ronnie with the comment “I’ve been waiting for these.” If you know Ron, this is actually pretty high praise!
Start with the vegetables.
Finally a use for chokoes! You can use different vegetables if you like – something firm and green preferably, such a green tomatoes or beans. Chokoes are relatively cheap, carry the flavour well and remain firm after cooking. If you are lucky, someone may have a vine growing that doesn’t get decimated by rabid possums (as mine did) and this will be a very cheap pickle. I always add cauliflower as it soaks up the vibrant colour of the tumeric. Now comes the hard part. Peeling and finely dicing the vegetables and onions. Now, if you are unfamiliar with chokoes, you will not know that there is a sliminess once peeled that dries on your hands turning them into claws (or as in my head, and anyone from a certain age of repetitive afternoon telly, “the Craw“) You can use gloves to avoid this, but it is awkward. Remember, the time you take to dice now determines how chunky your end result. I take extra time here to ensure a more spreadable pickles – don’t want a chunky sandwich!
Once all the vegetables are chopped, move on to the onions.
Day two of the process, drain and thoroughly rinse the vegetables. Pop the vinegar and sugar into a large pot and stir until the sugar is melted. Now, there was some further consultation with Auntie Jan here recently. I always use brown vinegar and sugar, but remember Nan’s pickles as being brighter. Auntie Jan confirmed that Nan used white sugar, but warned that using white vinegar made for “insipid” pickles. So, in honour of Nan, I also used white sugar this time- yum! Next time I might experiment with brown sugar and white vinegar.
Once the sugar is dissolved, add vegetables and return to boiling point. Mix flour and spices with some vinegar to make a paste:
and gradually add to the vegetable mixture, stirring constantly until mixture boils and thickens. Great upper arm workout here, and don’t even think about leaving the pot – no one wants lumps in their pickles! Once incorporated, reduce heat and simmer for 10 minutes to cook vegetables.
Pour into sterilized jars and seal. Store in a cool dark place and refrigerate after opening.
Happy Birthday Nan!
- 1.5 kg vegetables - I use chokoes, cauliflower and green beans
- 750g brown onions
- ½ cup salt
- 4 cups brown malt vinegar
- 1 kg sugar - brown or white
- 2 tsp tumeric
- 2 tsp dry mustard
- 2 tsp curry powder
- ¼ tsp ground ginger
- 1 cup plain flour
- Peel chokoes and cut all vegetables and onions into a fine dice. Place in a large bowl, sprinkle with salt, cover with water. Cover bowl with plastic wrap and let stand overnight.
- Drain vegetables and rinse well with cold water.
- Place three cups of vinegar and sugar in a large saucepan and stir over low heat until sugar dissolves. Bring to the boil, add vegetables bad bring back to boiling point.
- Mix all dry ingredients with remaining vinegar . Gradually add to vegetable mixture and stir constantly until thickened. Reduce heat and simmer for 10 minutes , until vegetables are cooked through