What to match with cheese can always be a bit of a conundrum. Gone are the days of the well-known brown pickle, it seems, as in every supermarket and shop there are new types ranging from the ordinary to the weird and wonderful. Somehow though, the shop bought varieties are always too sweet or too sharp, missing the sweet/sour balance so crucial to a good pickle. Home-made is the way forward – and is rather easier than jam-making in my opinion. It is good to have an airy kitchen though, as the boiling vinegar can cause a bit of a pong.There is something distinctly lovely about pickling – maybe it’s the waiting. Once jarred, most chutneys and pickles need to be stored for several months to mature before use. While they sit I get ever more tempted, looking in on them regularly, checking them for the smallest variation until I can sit down to a proper lunch of good, crusty bread, soft butter, a good hard cheese and a spoonful of my latest creation.
This fab recipe comes from my friend Henry Herbert, head chef at my favourite London pub, The Coach and Horses in Farringdon. He is forever pickling, jamming, curing meat and baking exceptional bread. This pickle calls for one of my favourite fruits, the gooseberry.
- 500g Gooseberries
- 1 banana shallot
- 200ml white wine vinegar
- 200g caster sugar
Finely dice the shallot and sweat in a little flavourless oil (groundnut, grapeseed or a very mild olive oil) in a large, heavy saucepan or preserving pan.
Top and tail the gooseberries and add to the pan together with the vinegar and sugar. Bring to a gentle simmer and cook for 45 minutes.
Pour into sterilised* jars, seal and leave somewhere cool for a month.
*To sterilise jars, wash in warm water then place in a 170°C oven for ten minutes.