Wednesday, 26 November 2014
There is something special about a homemade gift. It feels like there is a little bit of extra love mixed up in those wonky mince pies and slightly burned gingerbread men. There is definitely something wonderful about a handwritten 'homemade' label that makes my heart sing with joy. With this in mind, I thought it was about time I shared a homemade gift idea with you here on the blog. And very handily, a homemade gift you can whip up a month in advance and then get on with enjoying the festive period! Enter Pickled Shallots!
So I popped home last weekend and my Mum was on top form and had stocked up with jars, vinegar and had grown her own shallots to boot! Mum is the creator, writer and photographer behind Gardening Jules. A beautiful, organic space in this big old internet, whose mantra is 'a productive gardening life'. She's your gal for all things creative-nature and gardening. I've been reliably informed that our Picasso variety shallots are Alan Titchmarsh's brand, in association with Waitrose. They were planted in early March and then harvested in August. If you'd like to grow your own next year, Mum says they are very easy to grow and advises a sunny spot in your garden. If you haven't grown your own, never fear! They are easy to grab in your supermarket.
So yes, pickled shallots. The ultimate accompaniment to a turkey sandwich on boxing day, or just wonderful eaten straight out of the jar (don't judge me). But be warned - pickled shallots are perhaps the easiest thing to throw together, you might just get addicted to pickling. I definitely want to try out Deb's Pickled Vegetable Sandwich Slaw - so colourful and gorgeous!
I see pickled goods for everyone this Christmas, let's start the vinegar revolution.
For Pickled Shallots you will need (makes approx 2 medium jars):
1.4 litres malt vinegar
1 tsp coriander seeds
1 tsp mustard seeds
1 tsp black peppercorns
1 tsp dried chilli flakes
170g dark brown sugar
Begin by sterilising your jars. You can do this in the dishwasher, oven or microwave.
Then grab your shallots, top and tail them and peel them.
Cover them in salt and toss to make sure they are well coated. Cover in clingfilm and refrigerate over night. Do not leave them than longer for 1 night, or they will lose their lovely crunchy texture.
The next morning rinse off the shallots.
Blot them all dry and then set aside.
Now to make the pickling vinegar! Combine the sugar, mustard seeds, coriander seeds, peppercorns and chilli flakes in a large saucepan.
Pour in the vinegar and put onto a medium heat until the sugar dissolves. Make sure not to boil the vinegar.
Whilst the sugar is dissolving pack the shallots into your jars. You can either use uniform jars or go for a real homemade, motley crew collection.
Now it's time to douse those shallots in that lovely pickling vinegar. I like to transfer the vinegar from the pan to a jug to make this part a little easier, and reduce spillage.
Try and get an even distribution of spices in each jar.
Tightly seal the lids of each jar and pop in the cupboard until Christmas!
Once your ready, package with festive ribbon and jolly tag.
Well done you for being an organised Christmas hero.
Enjoy sharing such a gorgeous gift this Christmas. And what a piece of cake to throw together!