Pre­serves

The best for this sum­mer’s glut

NZ Lifestyle Block - - Diy Food -

Say the words ‘bread and but­ter pick­les' and I don't nec­es­sar­ily re­mem­ber the ac­tual look of the pick­les or my mother making them with­out fail ev­ery sum­mer.

In­stead, the un­for­get­table com­bi­na­tion of sugar, turmeric, mus­tard and vine­gar floods my senses and I am com­pelled to find a jar, just to have an­other taste of one of the most en­dur­ing pre­serves of my child­hood.

Bread and but­ter pick­les are a stan­dard item in my own larder, with one slight de­vi­a­tion from tra­di­tion (see the recipe, top right on the next page).

It doesn't mat­ter whether you grow cu­cum­bers or zuc­chini in your sum­mer gar­den or not, there is al­ways a big pile in the vege bins over sum­mer. Many gar­den­ers and re­cip­i­ents of fresh pro­duce from the neigh­bours or rel­lies will in­stantly bring to mind the fa­mil­iar bucket-loads of straight, curly or round cu­cum­bers, zuc­chini in yel­low and green, the ubiq­ui­tous mar­row tak­ing pride of place on the back step. Th­ese long green veg­eta­bles seem to mag­i­cally pop out in the night.

“I'm sure there weren't any there yes­ter­day,” I've heard peo­ple say, and now, sud­denly, there are too many.

Too many in my kitchen isn't a prob­lem. Too many is per­fect for bread and but­ter pick­les.

But I will say that I have stretched the bound­aries of what is a true bread and but­ter pickle due to the abun­dance of cu­cum­bers and zuc­chini in both my own gar­den and as gifts from peo­ple in my lo­cal com­mu­nity. For years, I was re­li­giously faith­ful to my mother's recipe, only us­ing the slightly larger pick­ling cu­cum­bers that couldn't be turned into gherkins (as il­lus­trated in the pho­tos, just so you know I'm my mother's daugh­ter).

Then a friend in­tro­duced me to bread and but­ter pick­led zuc­chi­nis. Th­ese had a slightly dif­fer­ent tex­ture but with the same refreshing crunch and flavour of the cu­cum­ber va­ri­ety. I dis­cov­ered that zuc­chini works just fine for bread and but­ter pick­les, but I also learned to give them only a very short blast in the sim­mer­ing vine­gar/sugar so­lu­tion or they go soggy. The rule ap­plies for or­di­nary va­ri­eties of cu­cum­ber too – you don't have to use pick­ling ones.

The sec­ond recipe I have in­cluded this month comes from an­other mem­ory that re­lates not to taste but to ethics. The defin­ing mo­ment when I de­cided to be­come a vege­tar­ian slips my mind, but it was definitely dur­ing my first two years at Waikato Univer­sity and some­how re­lated to me read­ing Peter Singer's book, An­i­mal Lib­er­a­tion. It came as a bit of a shock to my dairy farming par­ents who were ac­cus­tomed to our fam­ily con­sum­ing three meat meals a day. I ate ba­con for break­fast ev­ery day for nearly16 years. When my fa­ther heard, he shook his head, as if it to say 'it's just a phase'.

1Cu­cum­ber and zuc­chini (or cour­gette) are mem­bers of the same fam­ily – the gourd fam­ily, Cu­cur­bitaceae – but are dif­fer­ent gen­era (Cu­cumis and Cu­cur­bita re­spec­tively).

2

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