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Friday, 27 November 2009

Spiced Vinegar for Pickles

I make a lot of pickles and I spice my own vinegar. You can use whatever vinegar you choose. However only use whole spices as using ground spices in this will give a cloudy finish and produce a sediment. You want ideally a nice clear vinegar to show the preserve off at its best.

The recipe I use is taken from The Complete Farmhose Kitchen Cookbook ISBN 0-00-411256-3

1 .2 litres/2 pints vinegar of your choice
1/4 oz cinnamon bark
1/4 oz whole cloves
12 peppercorns
1/4 oz blade mace (whole mace) - usually available from Asian foodshops
1/4 whole allspice
1 or 2 bay leaves

Slow Method
Tie whole spices into a small piece of muslin and put them with the vinegar in a wide necked jar. Cover jar with a vinegar-proof lid and let the spices steep in the vinegar for 1 to 2 months to obtain a good flavour.
Quick Method
Place the vinegar and spices in a glass bowl (not metal or polythene) standing on a pan of water. Cover the bowl and bring the water slowly to the boil. Remove from heat then allow to go quite cold takes about 2 hours. Spiced vinegar need not be used at once. Remove the spice bag and then strain the vinegar and put back into their original bottles/jars. The spiced vinegar is used for most pickles.

Pickles to be kept crisp - you should use a cold spiced vinegar such as pickled red cabbage and pickled onions.

Softer finish such as in chutneys you should use hot vinegar.

This can be quite happily kept in the back of the pantry/cupboard in waiting for the day you make a batch of pickles.

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