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There are some quite peculiar myths concerning food and eating that people believe in. I won’t touch various diets here or I’d never get to the recipe itself but the delusion that fat makes you fat reigned unquestioned for years*. My grandmother believed you should never drink water after eating fruit and my mum thought eating too quickly gave you indigestion.
Most elderly people will still be wary of too many eggs, since cholesterol kills. Chocolate doesn’t necessarily give you spots, how late you eat does not affect your weight – it’s how much – and detoxing is carried out brilliantly by our liver, without help of any magic supplements.
Cooking has its share of unicorns, too: that juicing is healthy (it’s not! you discard all the dietary fiber!), all pork has to be cooked through (not if it’s loin and well-sourced), that oil stops cooked pasta from sticking, milk adds value to scrambled eggs and curdled cake batter is a write-off.
And that it takes industrial quantities and weeks of maturing to make good pickles: it certainly doesn’t, you can pickle a single cucumber in the afternoon and have it ready for supper.
They call pickled cucumbers ‘bread and butter’ pickles in the US which is quite interesting. The name most certainly goes back to the Great Depression when even in the cities most houses had a patch to grow easy, cheap veg on (i.e. cukes) and they’d make easy, cheap sandwich filler; first fresh, later on preserved. But of course the idea of putting cucumber slices into bread and butter derives from the Edwardian afternoon tea and soggy, crustless cucumber sandwiches.
Cucumbers are the classic – and the smaller the better – but asparagus is a funky crunch and carrot, thinly sliced, adds variety and colour. These pickles do not cook the veg so even some vitamin C is preserved, and the fat-soluble vitamins all stay intact.
*of course it does but so will quinoa if you eat enough of it.
flash picklesServings: a 1lb jarTime: half an hour, plus chilling
- 250g (8oz.) small cucumbers
- 3-4 small carrots
- a few asparagus spears (or baby beetroots, bell peppers or any other vegetables you fancy)
- 2 tbsp. coarse sea salt
- 1 tbsp. caster sugar
- ½ bunch of fresh dill
- 1 red Birdseye chilli, de-seeded
- 30g (¼ cup) light brown sugar
- 120ml (½ cup) cider vinegar
- 2 tsp coriander seeds
- ½ tsp black peppercorns
- 1 tsp yellow mustard seeds
- 4-5 allspice berries
1. Top and tail all the vegetables and slice them into thin (3-4mm) rounds. Cut the asparagus on the diagonal into 1cm pieces. Slice peppers into short matchsticks. Place the sliced vegetables on a colander over a bowl and toss them with the salt and caster sugar. Chill in the fridge for 2 hours.
2. Drain any released liquid and transfer the veg into a bowl. Add the dill and the chilli.
3. Place the sugar with vinegar and all the remaining ingredients in a small pan and bring to the boil; simmer until the sugar dissolves. Pour the hot liquid over the cucumbers and all in the bowl, toss well. Leave it to stand for 10 minutes and toss again; repeat once more.
4. In the meantime prepare a 1lb jar with an airtight lid by rinsing it with boiling water, microwaving for 1 minute or sterilising in the oven for 30 minutes if it’s not microwaveable. Transfer the pickles to the jar and pour over the liquid so that it covers the slices. Put the lid on and chill for an hour before serving. The pickles will keep in the fridge for a few weeks.