Cold beer, crusty bread, sliced dry-cured sausage, aged cheddar, possibly some pickled onions – and this pickled gem, a tangy, sweet, and crunchy pickle/chutney that is an essential British condiment for a proper Ploughman’s lunch. In December of 2017 I taught a holiday canning class at Preserved Oakland. This pickle was a part of the class. Pack a jar into a gift bag complete with cheese, sausage, and crackers and you will be a very nice person indeed. Note that this pickle can be stored in the refrigerator for several months, or hot-water-bath processed for 15 minutes for shelf storage up to a year. (Not sure what that means? Take my online canning class!)
BRITISH PLOUGHMAN’S LUNCH PUB PICKLE
Makes about 7 cups
For the brine:
- 1/2 cup tamarind paste
- 1 cup warm water
- 16 medium Medjool dates, pits removed, finely chopped
- 2 medium sweet apples, peeled, cored, and chopped
- 4 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
- 3 1/2 cups apple cider vinegar
- 2 cups sugar
- 1 tablespoon kosher salt
For the pickle:
- 1 1/2 cups finely diced carrot
- 1 cup finely diced cauliflower, mostly stems
- 1 cup finely diced zucchini
- 1 cup finely diced red onion
First make the brine; let it cook while you prep the carrot, cauliflower, zucchini, and onion.
Put the tamarind in a deep bowl, add the warm water, and let it sit for 10 minutes while you gather the rest of the ingredients for the brine.
In a large, heavy-bottomed saucepan or Dutch oven, combine the chopped dates, apple, garlic, vinegar, sugar, and salt.
Turn your attention back to the tamarind. Once it has softened in the water, use your hand to squish the tamarind paste into a liquid. Pass the tamarind slurry through a fine-mesh sieve into the pot with the rest of the ingredients. Use a spoon to vigorously stir the tamarind to release as much of the slurry as possible, and sort out the seeds and pods. Be sure to scrape the underside of the sieve into the pot as well to get every last drop! Discard the seeds and pods.
Combine the contents of the pot and bring it to a boil over high heat; note that the volume of the liquid will increase somewhat when it boils. Reduce the heat to a vigorous simmer, uncovered, for about 30 minutes, mashing the fruit with a wooden spoon or potato masher as it softens. Stir the brine to keep it from sticking to the bottom and sides of the pot. Once the volume of the liquid has reduced by about half and the mixture has become somewhat thick and syrupy, turn off the heat.
Meanwhile, finely dice the carrot, cauliflower, zucchini, and onion with your sharp kitchen knife, or pulse it in a food processor, until the vegetables are the size of lentils. Once the brine has finished cooking, add the vegetables to the pot.
Pack the pickle into clean glass jars and refrigerate for at least 3 months. Or pack it into clean canning jars and hot water bath process for 15 minutes. This will keep for up to 1 year on the shelf.