Delia

Pickled Peppers and Courgettes

This is adapted from an old Cordon Bleu recipe for pickled cucumber. It's one of the best, in my opinion, for serving with patés, as it provides a bit of crunch and acidity to cut through the richness.


Makes four 171/2 fl oz (500 ml capacity) preserving jars

This recipe is taken from How to Cook Book Three.

Pickled Peppers and Courgettes
Ingredients
 2 large red peppers
 2 lb 8 oz (1.15 kg) courgettes (no need to peel)
 12 oz (350 g) red onion (about 3 onions), peeled
 1½ pints (850 ml) good-quality white wine vinegar
 8 oz (225 g) demerara sugar
 1 oz (25 g) mustard seeds
 1 teaspoon celery seeds
 1 rounded teaspoon ground turmeric
 ½ teaspoon ground mace
 2 medium-sized red chillies, deseeded and thinly sliced
 1½ oz (40 g) sea salt, lightly crushed
Equipment
You will also need four 17½ fl oz (500 ml) preserving jars, sterilised.

Method

Begin this the night before.

First, deseed the peppers, cut out any pith and slice them into 2 inch (5 cm) strips.

Next, trim and slice the courgettes into diagonal ½ inch (1 cm) slices. After that, halve the onions and cut them into 1/4 inch (5 mm) slices.

Now pack the vegetables into a large colander in layers, sprinkling each layer with salt, put a dish underneath it to catch the juices and another with a weight on top, and leave them overnight.

Next day, rinse the vegetables under cold, running water, really press them to get rid of any excess moisture, and pat them dry with a clean tea cloth.

Then leave them spread out on the cloth for about 2 hours to thoroughly dry off. After that, place the vinegar, sugar and spices, including the chillies, in a saucepan and stir them together over a medium heat until the sugar has completely dissolved.

Let it all simmer for about 3 minutes and then add the vegetables, simmering for another 3 minutes. Then divide the pickle between the hot, sterilised jars (see below), packing it right up to the top.

Swivel them to make sure the air is expelled and really press the vegetables down under the liquid before you place waxed discs on top. Then seal tightly with vinegar-proof lids, label the jars when cold and store the pickles in a cool, dry, dark place.

They are supposed to be kept for 3 months to mellow before eating (if you are patient), but I've found them to be very good in about a month.

To sterilise jars: wash the jars and lids in warm, soapy water, rinse well (again in warm water), then dry them thoroughly with a clean tea cloth, place them on a baking tray and pop them in a medium oven, gas mark 4, 350°F (180°C) for a minimum of 5 minutes.

Add their contents while they are still hot.

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