I love a pickle. Always have, since being a very little girl filching the tiny silver skin onions from my dad’s piccalilli, to piling my Sunday dinner plate with pickled beetroots and cabbage, to learning to make my own from various small bits of vegetable rolling around the fridge. This summer, I have fallen hard for the humble radish; I usually grow my own but haven’t got around to it yet, so have been picking them up from various nearby shops and supermarkets for a song. The tops make a beautiful peppery pesto, which I have used to top a pizza in the past with excellent results. The little blushing radishes themselves can be folded through a risotto, to pep up a salad, eaten alone with a smudge of salty oil, or, as I discovered to my great delight late yesterday evening, pickled in a flash and left to gently ferment. These glorious pink wafers of crispy tangy gorgeousness are now sitting in my fridge door, where I shall have to be patient with them for around a month to allow the flavours to develop, before liberally tossing them onto the side of every salad, atop pasta dishes, through chilled soups, or simply donked on a cracker with a smudge of buttery spread, a pinch of salt, and a sigh. Pickles make excellent gifts, too (or perhaps just excellent gifts for me!). If you don’t have a Lidl near you, nor a decent greengrocer, radishes are 50p for 200g from Asda, which is where the rest of this shop is priced. If you find them at any more of a bargain, do get in touch and let me know!
Makes two small jars – you may need to adjust pickling liquid depending on the size of your jar!
200g fresh radishes, 39p (39p/200g, Lidl)
100ml vinegar, 7p (39p/568ml distilled malt vinegar, Asda)
2 tbsp sugar, 2p (65p/1kg, Asda)
1 tsp salt, <1p (27p/750g, Asda)
First wash and thoroughly dry your jars and their lids. If making for other people, I sterilise them by washing them and baking gently in a 140C oven for a few minutes. If making for me, well, I am a bit lax about my personal health and safety, but am in a position of responsibility to advise you not to do the same ?
Then assemble your pickling liquid. Pour the vinegar and water into a small saucepan, and add the sugar and salt. For low-sugar fans, I’m afraid it simply isn’t possible to make a decent pickle without a little sugar in it. You can reduce it down to a tablespoon – but it stays in the pickling liquid, so as long as you don’t neck it like a shot of vodka afterwards. (I’m just going to let you know that it makes an excellent whiskey chaser, known as a Pickleback, but what you do with that information is entirely up to you). Bring the pickling liquid to the boil, then remove it from the heat to cool slightly.
Finely slice your radishes, around 1mm thin, or as thin as you can get them, and pop them into the jar until it is full to the neck. Pour over the pickling liquid, and place the lid on loosely. Leave to cool for a few hours, before tightening completely. Place in the fridge and try to ignore it for a month while the magic happens, and then, enjoy!
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All text copyright Jack Monroe.