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Wednesday 2 October 2013

Sluttishly Sweet: Pickled Greengages

Greengages are my favourite of all the fruits. Well, perhaps they tie with figs. The only problem with having the greengage as your favourite fruit - and not having access to a greengage tree - is that there is only a 13-minute window in which to buy them before they disappear again for another year. Woe.

I've stocked up for 2013, but even though I adore them fresh, there are only so many greengages I can eat in one sitting. Nope - I want to preserve the gage glory through autumn, winter and beyond. So I pickled them!

Pickled plums of any kind are delicious, and greengages respond particularly well to being drowned in fragrant vinegar and hidden away in a cupboard for months. Eat them with cheese, cold meats, whatever - they are glorious.

As with any pickling recipe, add or remove ingredients depending on your personal tastes. Don't meddle too much with the vinegar-sugar ratio (although do add a wee bit more sugar if your gages are on the tart side), but feel free to lose the chillies, bump up the cinnamon - go WILD. Yeah. Pickling is WILD.

Pickled Greengages (makes one 500ml Kilner jar's worth)
You will need:
  • 350g greengages, washed and stalks removed
  • 5 cloves
  • 200ml white vinegar
  • 100g granulated sugar
  • 2 star anise
  • 5-6 cardamom pods, lightly bashed
  • 1 tbsp mixed peppercorns
  • 2-3 whole dried chillies
  • A cinnamon stick, broken in half
  • A 2cm chunk of fresh ginger, sliced
  • A swirl of unwaxed lemon rind
  • A pinch of salt
Make it!
  1. Sterilise your jar. If you've been blessed by the dishwasher gods, that's nice for you. Otherwise, 10-15 minutes submerged in a large pan of boiling water on the stove (bring the water to a boil with the jar in situ, otherwise SMASH) should do it. I put mine in a low oven to keep warm - and to dry without me touching it - before I fill with deliciousness.
  2. Prick the greengages all over with a toothpick. Stud five of them with a clove, then pack all the gages into your dry, warm jar.
  3. Meanwhile, boil up the remaining ingredients, stirring well with a very clean spoon to help dissolve the sugar. Keep at a rolling boil for about 5 minutes, then pour the hot liquid and all the spicy, flavoursome additions over the greengages. Ensure everything is submerged.
  4. Seal, and turn the jar on its head for about half an hour to fully seal it, and to allow the bits to mingle. 
  5. Your greengages are best enjoyed after at least a week of absorbing the gorgeous flavours. HOWEVER - a couple of days might be enough if you really can't resist. They should be stored in a cool, dark place, and have a shelf life of about 6 months. 

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