Homemade Christmas Presents Prep #1.

The yuletide season is fast approaching with the help of television adverts, store displays and local councils putting up Christmas decorations at the end of October; and as such one can’t help but think about “that” time of year. Don’t get me wrong, I’m no Christmas hater, however I loathe and abhor the fact that in 2015 it is simply a costly financial exercise. People get in all sorts of debt under the pressures of Christmas; why do we go absolutely bananas on gifts, food and drink on this one day of the year? For me Christmas is about friends, family and good food. This really shouldn’t cost the earth. And it doesn’t. So this year H and I decided to mix things up present wise and do everything ourselves. Out with the anonymity of Amazon and in with peeling horrendous amounts of shallots. Our blood sweat and tears will be going into this.

First up is a condiment that sounds a bit like Piccadilly…

Ingredients:
Makes 3 x 340g jars

1kg washed, peeled vegetables – select 5 or 6 from the following: cauliflower or romanesco cauliflower; green beans; cucumbers; courgettes; green or yellow tomatoes; tomatilloes; carrots; small silver-skinned onions or shallots; peppers; nasturtium seed pods
50g fine salt
30g cornflour
10g ground turmeric
10g English mustard powder
15g yellow mustard seeds
1 tsp crushed cumin seeds
1 tsp crushed coriander seeds
600ml cider vinegar
150g granulated sugar
50g honey

Method:
Cut the vegetables into small, even bite-sized pieces. Place in a large bowl and sprinkle with the salt. Mix well, cover the bowl with a tea towel and leave in a cool place for 24 hours, then rinse the veg with ice-cold water and drain thoroughly.

Blend the cornflour, turmeric, mustard powder, mustard seeds, cumin and coriander to a smooth paste with a little of the vinegar. Put the rest of the vinegar into a saucepan with the sugar and honey and bring to the boil.

Pour a little of the hot vinegar over the blended spice paste, stir well and return to the pan. Bring gently to the boil. Boil for 3–4 minutes to allow the spices to release their flavours into the thickening sauce.

Remove the pan from the heat and carefully fold the well-drained vegetables into the hot, spicy sauce. Pack the pickle into warm, sterilised jars and seal immediately with vinegar-proof lids. Leave (if you can) for 4–6 weeks before opening. Use within a year.

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