Sprouts, sprouts, glorious sprouts, nothing quite like them for making you . . . er, pout!
Finished the marmalade? Put the pan away thinking 'that's it until the soft fruit.' Think again my little preserving gerbils.
Sprouts. Pickled. No, its not a joke. You pickle red cabbage, right? There are still some lovely sprouts around, so why not try this little recipe to ring the changes. I can't remember where I saw it - in a magazine at the Doctor's I expect, so I am really sorry if it's yours and I haven't credited you.
You will need:-
450g/1lb small tight sprouts
600ml/1 pint distilled malt vinegar ( I used cider as that was all that I had, and actually needed around 900ml/1.5 pints to fill the jars I had.
1 tablespoon mixed pickling spices, to your taste
Firstly, get your hands on some sprouts, small and tight - we don't want those huge blowsey ones. Take off the outside leaves and put the sprouts into a bowl. Sprinkle with salt and leave overnight to draw out the moisture.
Next day, rinse away the salt under cold running water and drain the sprouts well. Pack into sterilised jars.
Put the vinegar, sugar and spices into a pan and bring up to the boil. Simmer for 10 minutes then pour hot over the sprouts in the jars. Fill to the brim and seal tightly. Store out of direct light and it is best to use them within 2-3 months. Enjoy them with cold meats and cheeses.
Used the 284ml chutney for my sprouts.
BTW if you are hankering after making some marmalade I still have oranges - and will do for some time - they are now frozen but can be dispatched to you no problem.
How is the Marmalade Going?
Everybody is up to their ears in oranges no doubt! No? You missed out? Well I still have some organic unwaxed Seville Oranges which can go out mail order. They are beautiful quality - but of course, they are direct from the famous Ave Maria Farm in, er, Seville. There is still time to buy and make or you could buy and freeze for later.
Now then. Spring Cleaning. Some of you won't be making marmalade but you might be trying to tidy and freshen up your surroundings now that a weak and watery sun is starting to show up the dust! I have been experimenting with making my own cleaning items just as medieval housewives did in the Still Room. I saw a programme the other day about the toxic cleaning chemicals that we regularly use without even thinking about it.
I have made Citrus Spray Cleaner, a Citrus Beeswax Furniture Polish and I also have the recipe for the cleaner I use on my hard floors. These are all very easy to do and only have natural ingredients. The Citrus Spray cleans glass and mirrors beautifully with no streaky residue. Spray on, wipe off with kitchen paper or a soft cloth.
The furniture polish is great fun to make and you can ring the changes - instead of citrus try adding essential oils instead - lavender, bergamot, or use fresh herbs instead of the citrus peel.
The floor cleaner works like magic - cleans easily and then dries to a non-sticky gentle sheen with no build-up.
Try them out - I would love to know what you think. I shall be making more things like this during the year and will keep you posted. I am going to sell them in The Old Smithy as well, it is all preserving, after all.
We have great jars for the polish and I will have the spray bottles in the next few days so check the website next week.
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
The still room is a distillery room found in most great houses, castles or large establishments throughout Europe dating back at least to medieval times. Medicines were prepared, cosmetics and many home cleaning products created, and home-brewed beer or wine was often made. Herbs and flowers from the kitchen garden and surrounding countryside were preserved for flavoring food and processed into what today we call essential oils, and infused or distilled, or brewed (etc.) as required to make rose water, lavender water, tinctures, peppermint-based ointments, soaps, furniture polishes and a wide variety of medicines. The still room was a working room: part science lab, part infirmary and part kitchen.
Originally, the still room was a very important part of the household. The lady of the house was in charge of the room, and she taught her daughters and wards some of the skills needed to run their own homes in order to make them more marriageable. As practical skills fell out fashion for high-born women, the still room became the province of poor dependent relations.
In later years, as physicians and apothecaries became more widely spread and the products of the still room became commercially available, the still room increasingly became an adjunct of the kitchen. The use of the still room devolved to making only jams, jellies, and home-brewed beverages, and it became a store room for perishables such as cakes. The still room was staffed by the housekeeper or cook, then later by the still room maid.
TOP TIP: Always keep some citrus peel soaking in distilled malt vinegar - great for salad dressings and using making mustards etc.Always handy to have by you and it uses an otherwise waste product (lemon or orange peel)
For floor cleaner:- use a good splash of malt vinegar, a squirt of washing up liquid and a generous shake of bicarbonate of soda or baking powder in a bucket. Add hot water and swirl around with your mop to combine. Wash over the floor, leave to dry.
Before . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .and after
Citrus Beeswax Furniture Polish