Per­fect pre­serv­ing

Marlborough Express - The Saturday Express, Marlborough - - WEEKEND -

It’s time to start hoard­ing your win­ter pro­duce.

At their best in late au­tumn, but they are still rolling into veg­etable boxes, and sur­prise sur­prise they are still hearty and crisp.

To buy: Pick the heav­i­est whether you are buy­ing large or small. The outer leaves of fresh picked red cab­bage have a slight green tinge to the pur­ple but if they are trimmed or halved, do not buy if outer leaves are slack and the white core (if vis­i­ble) is browning.

To store: They keep well if stored in the veg­etable crisper away from fruit.

To use. Un­like green cab­bages, red cab­bage re­sponds to stern cook­ing meth­ods. To re­tain that lovely vi­brant red it needs an added acidic in­gre­di­ent – vine­gar, le­mon juice or slices of tart ap­ple which prob­a­bly led to the idea of pick­ling the cab­bage (more vine­gar, more ap­ple, onion, sugar, spices and low slow heat), but when I in­ad­ver­tently tipped mint sauce (vine­gar, sugar and chopped mint leaves) into the sim­mer­ing pot it led to a kind of in­stant red cab­bage pickle.

Very good with ham or cold lamb.

Gar­lic cloves – up to 3, chopped Light cook­ing oil About half a small red cab­bage, core re­moved, leaves sliced/shred­ded finely 2 Ta­ble­spoons cider vine­gar 1-3 tea­spoons ready­made hot mus­tard

About 1 Ta­ble­spoon capers, washed/drained, chopped

2 Ta­ble­spoons chopped mint Scant tea­spoon sugar Put the gar­lic and a lit­tle oil oil in a large pan and heat gen­tly for a minute or two then add the sliced cab­bage and vine­gar, and stir over heat un­til starts to wilt. Re­move from heat, add all other in­gre­di­ents, stir well, and cover. Serve warm although it is also good served cold and pickle-like in a cold meat sand­wich. It can be re­heated. Frosts or not, lo­cal le­mon trees are bending over with fruit­ful­ness and it seems only right to put some away for a sum­mery lamb dish.. No le­mon tree at your place? Then maybe a neigh­bour­ing tree you could share. Fail­ing that, buy com­mer­cially grown le­mons but be aware that fruit in su­per­mar­kets will be waxed and the coat­ing will need to be re­moved be­fore you start. This recipe is a short cut with no pre­ci­sion slic­ing and stuff­ing with salt re­quired but it is im­por­tant to use enough salt and enough le­mon juice. It is al­ways a sur­prise how many le­mons have to be squeezed to get enough juice so I make one small jar­ful at a time. To buy (or beg): Choose heavy NZ grown le­mons which means they will be this sea­son’s. To store: If us­ing soon, keep on a flat plate on a sunny bench. If us­ing ‘‘soon’’ keep in a dry place and use as soon as pos­si­ble. Don’t re­frig­er­ate. To use: If the le­mons have been waxed, dunk quickly into hot wa­ter then use a potato scrub­ber to re­move the wax.

1 x 500ml ster­ilised glass jar with an air­tight lid

At least 12 reg­u­lar sized un­waxed or cleaned le­mons Plain salt

1 Ta­ble­spoon black pep­per­corns

2 tea­spoons whole co­rian­der seeds (omit if nec­es­sary. Do not sub­sti­tute ground co­rian­der)

2-3 fresh bay leaves (dried leaves can be used) Cut six le­mons into eight wedges. Squeeze the juice from six le­mons. Re­move and dis­card any pips. Put a layer of le­mon wedges in the base of the jar, flesh side up. Cover with 2 (ex­act mea­sure) tea­spoons plain salt. Sprin­kle in some pep­per­corns and co­rian­der seeds. Add another layer of le­mon wedges and press down. Cover with another 2 tea­spoons salt, more spices and bay leaf. Con­tinue un­til the le­mon wedges and salt are just 2.5cm from the seal of the jar’s lid. Pour in the le­mon juice us­ing more (or less) to en­sure the juice cov­ers the le­mon wedges and salt. Seal the jar. If us­ing later (not ‘‘soon’’) keep in a dry place and use as soon as pos­si­ble. Do not re­frig­er­ate. Check oc­ca­sion­ally that the le­mons re­main cov­ered. You should be able to use the whole wedges not just the rind.

Pre­served le­mons can be kept for months. Photos: Richard Cos­grove/ Fair­fax NZ

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