Grandma never wasted anything. She turned fruits and vegetables into jams, jellies, chutneys, and latterly wines. We foraged for brambles together; and friends and neighbours were quick to give her their extra harvest of anything in return for whatever she turned it into. Even Mr Hoare, who owned a mobile grocery van which visited once a week, was known to return at the end of the evening to ask her if she wanted a tray of this or that which wouldn’t last to be sold the next morning. But what I hated most about chutney season was the smell of boiling vinegar which permeated the whole house. Even Papa was known to join in and I remember him pickling walnuts. They tasted good, but that smell was disgusting. This gene of Grandma’s escaped me somewhat. We don’t eat much jam, and nor do we eat much chutney. Usually whatever chutneys we are given at Christmas last until the following year. I have made lemon curd in the past, and during a particular Earth Mother phase bottled vegetables in oil, home-made cheeses in oil, prunes in brandy, and made lemon curd. They were all successful, but inevitably a jar got forgotten and that is why there is a large Kilner jar with killer prunes in it, sitting in one of the cupboards. Those prunes have been sitting in the brandy for ten years and only one will knock you out for the rest of the evening! I do enjoy making elderflower cordial and fruit alcohols – they’re easy and they taste good. The basic recipe for fruit alcohol is 1 pint (20 fl oz) of vodka or gin, plus one pound of fruit (if using plums or sloes, prick the skins so that the juice can escape. Tradition says that they should be pricked with the thorn of their tree), plus 1lb of sugar (I sometimes use less, say 12 oz, if the fruit is very sweet). Mix them all together in a container with a lid. Shake over several days until all the sugar has dissolved. Put in a dark place for at least three months. Strain and bottle. If you look in the garden, on the left hand side, halfway down, there is a damson tree. The fruit from that tree makes a lovely gin. The reason I’m a bit stumped with this blog though is that George and Jess have started making chutneys and he wanted some recipes, and I don’t have any! I looked through Auntie Chrissie’s recipe book and she has several, one of which seems to be an Indian recipe. It’s quite difficult to read, because it’s been written on air mail paper (google it, ye children of the email!).
However, here we go with Cauliflower Pickle – I have transcribed exactly what Auntie Chrissie wrote, so any ambiguities are hers. George, please let me know how it tastes.
- 1 small garlic
- 2 tablespoonsful olive oil
- 1 dessert spoonful ground ginger
- 3 ozs preserved ginger
- 1 medium sized cauliflower
- Cayenne to taste
- 2 tablespoonsful sugar
- 2 tablespoonsful curry powder
Method Steam the cauliflower after removing the outer leaves, till fairly soft. Then break up into pieces on a dish and add sufficient salt to taste. Leave for one night. Heat the olive oil with the cloves of garlic till the garlic is brown. Add all of the other ingredients, cover with vinegar and cook for 5 to 8 minutes. Enjoy!