Crunchy Pickled Shallots

Few things rival the joy of a weekend afternoon spent pickling.  It’s a quiet, contemplative activity that requires many virtues I don’t normally possess (patience, accuracy and diligence to name a few).  But, on a rainy Sunday with the luxury of time on my side, the radio on, ingredients and jars laid out and my largest pan sitting on the hob,  somehow I turn into Buddha on the bloody mountain top. 

My favourite jar to make, as I’ve mentioned many times before, is chili jam.   It can be served alongside most meat, fish and many cheeses not to mention adding a kick to marinades, dressings and dips.  A jar lasts about two seconds in our fridge, so I’m constantly having to top up our stock. 

But sometimes I find myself with an even greater reserve of patience and such occasions should be tapped into while they last.  These pickled shallots need a few weeks in a dark, cool spot to come to full maturity,  but it’s oh so worth it.  Sweet, sour and crunchy, they work wonderfully in a salad or next to some soft cheese.  Or perhaps a way to top off a Scandi-inspired fish supper with lots of new potatoes and dill?

To reward my patience when they were finally ready I used them in a starter of smoked mackerel, apple, radish and potato salad with a dill dressing.

Pickled Shallots

You will need:
(makes one jar- duplicate or treble for more)

35g rock salt
300ml  water
200g shallots, peeled and trimmed
300ml white wine vinegar
1 tbsp each allspice berries, juniper berries, black peppercorns and mustard seeds
1 bay leaves
25g muscovado sugar

large sterilised jar with screw top lids – prepare jars by washing in hot soapy water and leaving to dry and warm in a cool oven – 130C/250F/Gas ½ for 10-15 minutes.

1. Put the salt and water into a large saucepan, dissolve over a low heat and then leave the brine to cool.
2. Put the prepared shallots into the brine, weight down with a plate and leave in a cool place for 24 hours.
3. The next day put the vinegar and all the spices and sugar into a saucepan, bring to the boil and leave to infuse and cool.
4. Drain the shallots and carefully pack into the jars. Pour over the infused vinegar and the spices. Cover the jars with a screw top lid and leave in a cool dark place for 3-4 weeks before tucking in.  


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