In a pickle

Whoever said that by living in a Motorhome we would be eating “camping food” is just sooooooo wrong on so many levels. For a start, I am not too sure exactly what “camping food” is; is it dehydrated, reconstituted, lightweight, prepackaged, pretend food? Well, that’s not what we enjoy eating. We eat fresh, local, meat, fruit, eggs and veg and take advantage of any free range foraged foods I.e. Mushrooms, blackberries, fish etc. I make a fresh loaf of our own sourdough bread every three or four days and with the abundance of fresh (and cheap) produce available at the moment we also make our own pickles, chutneys, sauces, jams, preserves.

The last few days have been pickling and preserving time in the Vannini van, as just around the corner from Ambury Park is a very good market garden where they grow and sell their produce. The outdoor tomatoes are at their best and cheapest right now with a large variety of different types of tomatoes as well. Our favourites are the beefsteak variety which are large, fleshy, with few seeds but packed with flavour. They also grow eggplants, peppers, zucchini, a variety of greens of all sorts and sizes as well as herbs and plenty more.

A day or two has been set aside to cook up a few batches of pickles and chutneys. Just small batches, as there is just the two of us (plus the occasional visitor). Of course I had already made a large batch of zucchini pickle for Alex And she took a good supply of this back with her. When at Kawakawa Bay, see, I made plum sauce.

But back to today’s pickling, first off I made a batch of Tomato Kasundi, this is a deliciously spicy Indian style Chutney. Part of the recipe calls for lots of fresh spices to be toasted and then ground in a pestle and mortar. Now, in the past I have struggled along without a mortar & pestle by improvising but this time, I decided it was time to find myself a nice small mortar & pestle so off I went to a few Chinese food emporiums and other shops around central Auckland, all to no avail. So back to the van and I let my fingers do the walking online and I soon found the perfect one, which also just so happened to be on sale! A quick trip into St Luke’s shopping mall and this is the result

20140311-095701.jpg My new acquisition made light work of grinding the spices and one small batch of chutney was made. Next on the to-do list was a Brinjal Kasundi, an Indian Eggplant relish which is particularly delicious with ham. Then it was time to make a Bernice special – a Tomato Chilli Relish that I accidentally invented a year or two ago. It came about by making a batch of tomato relish and at the same time a tomato chilli relish, however, the former was far too sweet for my taste and the latter much too hot, so I combined the two to make a delicious relish. The methods of making were quite different from each other so I rewrote a combined recipe by tweaking both a little here and there resulting in a delicious relish/chutney just how we like it.

20140311-165702.jpga selection of today’s makings.

Now we are making another batch of the Chilli tomato relish as it is a particular favourite, and also a batch of a tomato red pepper chutney.

20140311-165834.jpgmise en place

With all this pickling and relishing I began to wonder, what is exactly the difference between a pickle and a chutney and a relish? According to some wise chap – Chutney is an ancient condiment that originated in India thousands of years ago. The men of science and wisdom, the Brahmins, had discovered the healthful qualities of spices. Foods could be made to last much longer without spoiling by cooking rich mixtures of spice into them. It was considered a blessing of the gods that the foods also became more delicious to eat.
A relish is a cooked or pickled, chopped vegetable or fruit food item which is typically used as a condiment. The item generally consists of discernible vegetable or fruit pieces in a sauce, although the sauce is subordinate in character to the vegetable or fruit pieces. It might consist of a single type of vegetable or fruit, or a combination of these, and the fruits or vegetables might be coarsely or finely chopped, but generally a relish is not as smooth as a sauce-type condiment, such as ketchup. The overall taste sensation might be sweet or savory, hot or mild, but it is generally a strong flavor that adds excitement to or complements the primary food item it is served with.

Although chutneys might be considered a type of relish, Crosse & Blackwell defines the difference between chutneys and relishes as follows: “Chutney is typically made with fruit; relish is normally made with vegetables.”

Hmmm….does that make sense to you? Anyway, don’t get me started on what is a jam, jelly, preserve or conserve, we could be here for a while!


One Response to “In a pickle”

  1. Bill and Estelle Says:

    Interesting comment on explaining the difference between chutney and relish which I have often thought about having made tomato relish this week and also using our dehydrator for peaches and feijoa this week and preserving stewed peaches( busy boy). I have recipes for tomato chutney and tomato relish? We will be visiting Estelle’s mother tomorrow at Manurewa so would like to catch up the later afternoon if possible. Bill Estelle

    Sent from my iPad


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