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Pickling and Preserving


Autumn in the garden seems to be accompanied by an over-abundance of crops that we either let to go to waste or give away to neighbours and family. Pickling and preserving excess garden produce that you can’t eat all at once is a great way to get the most out of your garden. How many of us have bought beetroot, gherkins, jalapeno peppers, sundried tomatoes or even different tomato or pepper chutneys from the supermarket? I honestly believe that gardeners are often missing a vital step in their gardening experience if you don’t try pickling and preserving some of your own bountiful crops.


Pickling is one of the oldest known ways for preserving food and is accomplished by including a preservation process using vinegar and/or oils which penetrate the food and prevent deterioration. Pickles and chutneys are a great way to use up fruit you may have not used because of the unusual shape, weather markings as well as excess crops. When making pickles and chutneys the appearance of the fruit doesn’t matter.


The reason food lasts longer when preserved is because bacteria can not grow in vinegar, so well before the freezer was invented this method of food preservation provided the family with healthy produce all year round.



Kaye Oderings Grandmothers Tomato Relish Recipe 

Boil 3kg tomatoes, 12 onions, ¼ tablespoon of salt, 3 ½ cups of sugar, 2 cups of vinegar, 2 tablespoons of mustard powder, 2 tablespoons of curry powder and five or six chilli’s, for one hour. Thicken with 2 tablespoons of cornflour mixed with vinegar.



Karen Oderings Dads Tomato Sauce

3kg of tomatoes, 4 cups of sugar, 2 cups of vinegar, 2 large onions roughly chopped, ½ packet of pickling spice, 5 teaspoons of salt. Put pickling spice in a muslin bag and hang over the side of the pot. Boil all ingredients for 2 hours then blitz through a food processor.



Sweet Apple Chutney 

This recipe is hundreds of years old and has been passed down the Simcock family for generations. Thanks to Val and John for this recipe.


Finely chop or put into a food processor 1.4kg of quality cooking apples, 230gms of dates, 450gms of onions.

Put into a pan with 480mls of spiced vinegar and cook until soft.

Add 450gms of brown sugar, a pinch of salt and bring to boil, stirring to avoid burning. Stew for a short while.

Mix 2 large tablespoons of cornflour with a little spiced vinegar to make a smooth paste.

Add this to the fruit mix, and bring to the boil, stirring to prevent burning.

When the mix has thickened, put it into sterilized jars, and seal.



Preserving Beetroot 

My mum made this recipe recently and we had home-preserved beetroot throughout the Christmas holidays. It didn’t last long because it was so delicious. This recipe can be used to preserve other vegetables, e.g. cauliflower.

Cook enough beetroot to fill 4-6 jars until soft.

Leave whole or slice and put into sterilized jars.

Now boil 3 cups of water, 1½ cups of vinegar and 7 tablespoons of brown sugar until the sugar is dissolved and liquid is piping hot.

Pour the hot liquid over the beetroot, then seal.

This will keep for six months but is best if left for two weeks before eating.



Thai style Jalapeno Sauce 

Vivian (one of our staff) recently brought some of this chutney into work and it has a nice little bite but is quite sweet and not too hot.


Heat 2 teaspoons oil, 30 fresh jalapeno peppers (sliced and seeded), 6 cloves of garlic, 1 cup minced onions and 1½ teaspoons of salt and sauté for five minutes.

Add ½ cup of sugar and 4 cups of water to the mixture and cook for 20 minutes, stirring often.

Leave to cool.

When cooled whizz in a food processor until smooth.

Add 2 cups of vinegar and bring to the boil.

Once hot put into sterilized bottles. This will last for six months in the fridge.



Best pickled onions 

Kaye Oderings’ mother had this recipe that Kaye’s kids are now also making. Delicious.


Cover 2.2 kgs of skinned pickling onions with ½-1 cup of salt and stand for 24 hours.

After the 24 hours put 950mls of vinegar and 450grams of sugar into a pot and boil.

Take some cloves, 2 tablespoons flour, 2 tablespoons of turmeric, 1 tablespoon of curry powder, 1 dessertspoon mustard powder and whizz into a paste with a little vinegar in a food processor, then add to the boiling mixture.

Boil until thickened.

Add the onions (do not wash) to sterilized jars and pour over the liquid and seal.

This should be left for three weeks before eating, and keeps for 6 months.




Roger Merryman worked for us years ago when I was just a little girl; this is his recipe that he passed onto us all those years ago.


Wash and scrub 2 kg of gherkins or cucumbers, sprinkle ½ cup of plain salt all over the gherkins/cucumbers while wet and leave for 2-3 hours stirring occasionally.

Drain the cucumbers/gherkins and cover with plain hot water.

Bring to the boil 2 cups of sugar, 4 cups of vinegar and simmer for 2 minutes, then turn off heat.

Drain the gherkins and pack tightly into jars.

To each jar add 1 teaspoon each of mustard and celery seeds (at the top of jar).

Pour the hot vinegar over the still hot gherkins until they are covered.

Screw lids on jars and leave for 2 weeks before eating.



Vegetable Pickle 

12 cups of minced mixed vegetables (all sorts) covered with cold water.

Add ½ a cup of salt and leave for 24 hours.

Drain and rinse.

Bring to the boil 4 cups of sugar, 1 tablespoon of mustard powder, 1-2 teaspoons of turmeric, 2 teaspoons of celery seed, 4 cups of white vinegar.

Once boiling, add vegetables and boil for a further 2-3 minutes. Put into jars and seal.

Leave 3 weeks before eating.

The vegetable mix could include; cauliflower, carrots, onions, zucchinis, gherkins, celery, beans etc.



Rhubarb Relish 

1.8 kg rhubarb stems chopped finely 1.8 kg sugar
2 tsp ground cloves

4 cups vinegar

Sultanas (optional)
3 tsp cayenne pepper

6 large onions chopped

Boil all ingredients together for two hours then bottle. Will keep for one year. Great with pork, cold meats and cheese.


Blueberry and Mint Vinegar 

2 cups white wine vinegar

2 cups blueberries (fresh or frozen)
4 sprigs fresh mint


Place all above into a pan/pot and bring to the boil.

Reduce heat and simmer for 5 minutes.

Remove mint and pour into clean warm jar/bottle.

Add fresh mint sprigs and seal.

Keep in a cool place for one week then line a funnel with muslin and strain vinegar into clean warmed bottles to seal.

Makes 3 cups and will keep for 1 year.


Sweetcorn Pickle 

1 cup chopped celery

1 cup chopped onion
1 red pepper, chopped

1 green pepper, chopped
1 tsp celery seed

1 tsp turmeric
1½ cups white wine vinegar

4 cups cooked corn kernels
¾ cup sugar

1 Tbsp cornflour
2 tsp mustard powder

2 tsp salt


Combine celery, onion, red and green peppers, celery seed, turmeric, vinegar and boil for five minutes then add the corn and bring back to a boil.

In a separate container, mix sugar, cornflour, mustard and salt to a thin cream with some extra vinegar then stir in to the boiling mixture and simmer for two minutes, stirring constantly then bottle.

Will keep for one year.



Apricot Sauce

2.7 kg fresh apricots, stoned and sliced

1.4 kg sugar
1 Tbsp. ground cloves

1 Tbsp. ground ginger
6 cups malt vinegar

6 tsp plain salt


Boil all ingredients until the mixture has the consistency of sauce, then bottle. Will keep for one year.



Blackcurrant Cordial 

750g ripe blackcurrants

7 cups sugar
6 cups water


Boil the blackcurrants in water for 10 minutes then strain through muslin.

Combine the strained juice with the sugar and boil for a further three minutes then bottle.

This is a concentrate so you need to add water/tonic etc. to the concentrate to get your preferred dilution.



Tomato Chilli Jam 

500g ripe tomatoes, de-cored, roughly chopped

4 red chillis
5 garlic cloves, peeled

2 thumbs root ginger peeled, roughly chopped
2 Tbsp Thai fish sauce

300g castor sugar
100ml red wine vinegar


Place half of the tomatoes, all of the chillies, garlic, ginger and fish sauce in a food processor and blend to a fine puree.

Place puree, sugar and vinegar in a pot and bring to the boil slowly, stirring all the time.

Turn the heat down to a medium boil, add remaining tomatoes and cook for 20-25 minutes, stirring every 5 minutes.

When the jam is thick it is ready to bottle. Will keep for one year.


Sweet Apple Cider 

1.5 kgs of apples (any apples or crabapples)

5 litres of water boiled and cooled
1 kg white sugar

3 lemons, zest and juice


Place apples in plastic bag and put in the freezer for three days.

Take the apples out, thaw, then put into a blender and puree.

Put this pulp into a clean 10 litre plastic bucket and add the water.

Cover with a tea towel and leave for seven days stirring morning and night.

Then strain through a muslin cloth, discard pulp and pour liquid back into the bucket.

Add sugar, lemon zest and juice and stir.

After a day it will start fizzing as the natural yeast converts the sugar into alcohol.

After the fizzing has died down, strain and pour liquid into plastic screw top bottles (old fizzy bottles are good).

Leave for at least a week before drinking.

Chill bottle first and ease the lid off slowly allowing about 10 minutes to release enough gasses so that you can pour it. Makes 8-9L. Caution: Unsure of alcohol content.


Best Ever Blueberry Muffins 

4 cups self-raising flour

1¼ cups sugar
2 heaped tsp baking powder

2 cups frozen blueberries
4 eggs

1 cup milk
200g melted butter


Heat oven to 160oC.

Sift dry ingredients into bowl and stir in the blueberries.

Whisk together the wet ingredients.

Make a well in dry ingredients and add the wet ingredients.

Fold in wet ingredients until mixture is just mixed.

Put mixture into two greased muffin trays; filling each hole to ¾ as the muffins rise to fill the hole.

Bake for approx. 25 minutes. Makes 24


Zucchini Chocolate Cake/Veggie Chocolate Cake 

125g butter softened

1 cup brown sugar
½ cup white sugar

3 eggs
2½ cups flour

1 tsp vanilla essence
½ cup natural yogurt

¼ cup cocoa powder
2 tsp baking soda

1 tsp cinnamon
½ tsp mixed spice

½ tsp salt
3 cups grated zucchini or 1 cup each grated Zucchini, carrot & potato.

½-1 cup chocolate mini-morsels/chocolate buttons


Prepare cake tins by greasing with butter or lining with baking paper.

Beat the butter with the sugars until light and creamy.

Add the eggs, then the vanilla and yoghurt and mix well.

Sift all the remaining dry ingredients together then mix in the dry and vegetable ingredients alternately.

Do not over mix.

Turn into the cake tin and sprinkle the mini morsels/chocolate buttons over the top.

Bake at 170oC for 45 minutes or until centre feels firm and a skewer comes out clean.





1 Comment
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#1Oakdene01/01/201618:05I have advised small business for many years on how to preserve for CSIRO in Australia. I'd like to make some suggestions on preserving methods to avoid spoilage. First there is no need to sterilize the jars, they may need to be prewarmed so that the temperature difference between the liquid and the glass is not greater than 60 deg C to avoid breakage due to heat shock. The hot liquid added to the jars will do the sterilizing for you and is much safer than trying to handle hot glass. You should use a thermometer and the liquid should be at a temperature greater than 85 deg C (preferably at 90 to 95 deg C). It is also important to seal the jars immediately (to create a vacuum and stop oxidation) and invert the jars for about 3 minutes to sterilize the lids. If you are making jams or jellies once you place them upright again, don't move them for 24 hours. Any movement once the pectin is beginning to set will stop it setting correctly. If you decide to bottle tomatoes without vinegar, you must add a teaspoon of citric acid to reduce the pH to a safe level. When preserving pieces of fruit or vegetables heating them with the lid sitting on them but no tightly closed in a boiling water bath until the centre of all the pieces of food reaches 85 deg C (measured with a thermometer) will prevent spoilage. They should then be immediately sealed to ensure a vacuum.

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