Pickled red cabbage

31 Oct

As it is Halloween and I am feeling all autumnal and we awoke to a blustery old day, Mick took Kevin and Digby (the mutts) out early for a walk whilst I made coffee to take back to bed with some cook books as we had the extra hour.  I suddenly realised after looking through a couple of my books that if I didn’t get a move on, I would be too late to pickle the red cabbage for Christmas!  I am joking of course, but pickles do need time to absorb the spices so you need to make them at least a month before you want to eat them.  Mick always groans as November approaches because he knows, even though we live in Spain, I will start nagging him to sort out my Christmas playlist on the ipod!  I just can’t help it once the intense heat of the summer is gone I start planning for the festive season (of course we don’t have Guy Fawkes night to break it up!).  Well, I digress, but since it is the right time in the UK to start pickling and preserving, I thought you might like to know how to make some of the stuff I have at Christmas.  Also, if you start early, by the week before Christmas, you can put your feet up and enjoy watching everyone else rush around like lunatics!

You will need:

Pickling Spice (see below)

2 pints vinegar – recipes usually specify Malt, but I think it is quite strong so in my opinion you can use whatever vinegar you have, red or white wine, cider, even sherry.  In this recipe I have used cider vinegar.

Red Cabbage shredded

1 level tablespoon of coriander seeds

If you want to make life very easy, you can just buy the sachets of pickling spice from the shops, but if you like, you can just see what you have in the cupboard (coriander seeds, yellow mustard seeds, dried red chillies (about 5-10), allspice powder, ginger, black peppercorns and bay leaves (1-2).  Just put a tablespoon of the seeds, a teaspoon of the powders and for the chillies, just use what I suggested above depending how spicy you want the cabbage), and the two bay leaves, into a saucepan.

Bring to a simmer very slowly (about 10 mins) and then remove from the heat and leave to cool and infuse for a few hours.

Strain the vinegar into a bowl reserving the spices, stir in the red cabbage (about half a cabbage makes two medium sized kilner jars) and add the coriander seeds.  I used the beautiful little jar of them that my sister painstakingly bottled for stocking fillers at Christmas time last year from the plants at her allotment, and am so happy to make use of lots of them!  She is so clever and creative and all the things she makes are so much nicer than stuff you buy and look like they have come from Fortnums – she has been on a jam and chutney fest in the last few weeks – can’t wait for mine!

Ok, back to the cabbage.  Spoon it into your kilner jars, or old pickle jars and cover completely in the vinegar – there should be enough but if not just top up with the kind you used.  Then put a few of the chillies from the strained spices in – be warned though if you use too many the cabbage will be really really hot!

Seal and store in a cupboard for at least a month, preferably two.

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