Crafting Christmas: Pickled Cabbage and Onions

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For some Christmas gifts I decided to make some pickled goods from my DK Jams and Chunteys book. I went for pickled red cabbage and pickled onions as they both had a long shelf life and the looked festive in the jars!

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Pickled Red Cabbage

  • 1 kg red cabbage
  • 2 red onions, finely sliced
  • 1-2 tbsp salt

For the spiced vinegar

  • 1 l distilled malt vinegar
  • 3 mace blades (I had to use ground mace as I couldn’t find blades)
  • 6 cloves, lightly crushed
  • 12 allspice berries, lightly crushed (again I used ground because I couldn’t find any)
  • 2-3 tbsp Demerara sugar

Makes 2 kg and keeps for up to 1 year

Cut the cabbage in half and remove any coarse outer leaves. With a sharp knife, cut away the central stem and discard. Slice the cabbage as finely as possible.

Arrange the vegetables in alternate layers in a large glass bowl, scattering the salt between the layers. Set aside and leave overnight.

Meanwhile, pour the vinegar into a saucepan and add the spices. Bring the mixture to the boil, stir in the sugar, then turn off the heat, cover the pan and leave overnight.

The following day, wash the cabbage and onion mixture under cold water to remove all the salt. Drain in a colander, then spread on clean old tea towels to dry for about 1 hour.

Pack the cabbage into cold sterilised jars, pressing the cabbage down well. Pour in the vinegar, ensuring that each jar contains some of the spices and that the vinegar covers the vegetables. Top up with extra vinegar if needed. Because I used ground mace and allspice I sieved my vinegar and then strained it through some muslin cloth so that the liquid wouldn’t be grainy.

Seal with vinegar-proof lids, label and store in a cool, dark place for at least 4 weeks before using.

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Pickled Onions

  • 225g salt
  • 1 kg pickling onions

For the spiced vinegar

  • 1 l malt vinegar, plus extra if needed
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 6 cloves
  • 2-3 mace blades (I used ground)
  • 12 allspice berries (I used ground)
  • 1 tbsp black peppercorns
  • 1-2 dried red chillis

Makes 1 kg and keeps for up to 1 year

For the brine, put the salt in a large glass bowl. Pour over 300ml of boiling water; and stir to dissolve the salt. Add a further 1.2 litres cold water.

Peel all the onions, removing the tops and roots too. Immediately immerse the peeled onion in the brine. Set the onions aside for 24 hours, to steep in the brine.

Make the spiced vinegar. Put the vinegar and spices in a saucepan, stir, and warm through for 3-4 minutes. The vinegar does not need to boil. Cover and set aside.

Drain the brined onions and wash well under cold water. Pat dry using a clean tea towel.

Pack the onions into cold sterilised jars, then pour in the spiced vinegar, ensuring that the onions are completely covered and adding more vinegar if required.Because I used ground mace and allspice I sieved my vinegar and then strained it through some muslin cloth so that the liquid wouldn’t be grainy. I picked out the bay leaves and some peppercorns to put into the jars.

Seal with vinegar-proof lids, and store the onions in a cool dark place. Check the onions after a coupld of days to make sure they are still submerged in the vinegar. If necessary, top up with plain malt vinegar. Leave for at least 1 month before using.

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