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Pickles…I have too say I am rather fond of Pickles and do make my own from time to time and they truly are a traditional gift at Christmastime. So here are some recipes from Mrs Beecher from 1873, firstly the Vinegar:

Vinegar for pickling should be sharp, but not the sharpest kind, as it injures the pickles. Wine or cider vinegar is reliable. Much manufactured vinegar is sold that ruins pickles and is unhealthful. If you use copper, bell-metal, or brass vessels for pickling, never allow the vinegar to cool in them, as it then is poisonous. Add a table-spoonful of alum and a tea-cup of salt to each three gallons of vinegar, and tie up a bag with pepper, ginger-root, and spices of all sorts in it, and you have vinegar prepared for any kind of common pickling, and in many cases all that is needed is to throw the fruit in and keep it in till wanted.

Well you can just buy prepared pickling Vinegar nowadays. It seems that is was quite likely in those days when glass jars were not so readily available that being poisoned was not out of the question!!

Keep pickles only in wood or stone ware. Anything that has held grease will spoil pickles. Stir pickles occasionally, and if there are soft ones, take them out, scald the vinegar, and pour it hot over the pickles. Keep enough vinegar to cover them well. If it is weak, take fresh vinegar, and pour on hot. Do not boil vinegar or spice over five minutes.

I end to keep my pickling onion in with the potatoes and other onions, this seems to keep them fairly fresh for some time. So here are some suggestions for pickles:

Sweet Pickles.
One pound of sugar, one quart of vinegar, two pounds of fruit. Boil fifteen minutes, skim well, put in the fruit and let it boil till half cooked. For peaches, flavour with cinnamon and mace; for plums and all dark fruit, use allspice and cloves.

This looks quite interesting!

Pickled Tomatoes.
As you gather them, leave an inch or more of stem; throw them into cold vinegar. When you have enough, take them out, and scald some spices, tied in a bag, in good vinegar; add a little sugar, and pour it hot over them.

Pickled Peaches.
Take ripe but hard peaches, wipe off the down, stick a few cloves into them, and lay them in cold spiced vinegar. In three months they will be sufficiently pickled and also retain much of their natural flavour.

Pickled fruit… hmm…I’m not sure but might be a great unusual gift.

Pickled Peppers.
Take green peppers, take the seeds out carefully so as not to mangle them, soak them nine days in salt and water, changing it every day, and keep them in a warm place. Stuff them with chopped cabbage, seasoned with cloves, cinnamon, and mace; put them in cold spiced vinegar.

Pickled Nasturtions (This is a type of cabbage)
Soak them three days in salt and water as you collect them, changing it once in three days; and when you have enough, pour off the brine, and pour on scalding hot vinegar.

Pickled Onions. Peel, and boil in milk and water ten minutes, drain off the milk and water, and pour scalding spiced vinegar on to them.

Pickled Gherkins. Keep them in strong brine till they are yellow, then take them out and turn on hot spiced vinegar, and keep them in it, in a warm place, till they turn green. Then turn off the vinegar, and add a fresh supply of hot spiced vinegar.

Pickled Mushrooms. Stew them in salted water, just enough to keep them from sticking. When tender, pour off the water, and pour on hot spiced vinegar. Then cork them tight, if you wish to keep them long. Poison ones will turn black if an onion is stewed with them, and then all must be thrown away.

I should be careful with these if I were you and only pick your own if you have a good experience of mushroom picking as there are some very poisonous mushrooms and toadstools in the UK.

and finally:

Pickled Cauliflower, or Broccoli. Keep them twenty-four hours in strong brine, and then take them out and heat the brine, and pour it on scalding hot, and let them stand till next day. Drain them, and throw them into spiced vinegar.

So good pickling and don’t forget to when using jars to sterilize them and here’s the methold I use:

Wash the jars, lids, and bands in hot, soapy water; rinse and drain. Put the Jars on a low heat in the middle of the oven and keep hot until filling.