On Thursday 16th November we were lucky enough to have Chef Sam Hanison and artist Kasia Posen running our first Around the Table workshop, focusing on the preservation of food and how it can be used for far more than extending the longevity of produce.
Sam and Kasia worked with adult carers to share their knowledge and enthusiasm for create sensory works of art that can also taste delicious.
They kicked things off exploring a little of the history of pickling and fermenting; armed with vibrant reference cook books and examples of pickles, the carers began to get a feel for the topic and formulate some of their own ideas. This was followed with a memory jogging exercise to examine the sensory qualities of the ingredients; a range of spices and peeled fruit were handed around for the carers to smell, triggering feelings and memories that they noted down as a point of reference.
The carers went onto build their eclectic range of colourful, layered pickles. (Recipes for the pickle base liquor and method as well as sauerkraut can be found at the end of this post). Using simple mark making techniques with tools you would find in most kitchens, such as wooden kebab skewers, Kasia taught the carers to make beautiful monochrome, illustrated labels; wonderfully contrasting the vibrant backdrop of their pickles.
It’s safe to say the carers enjoyed themselves as well as learnt some useful new skills. June said the session was “very good, can’t wait for more!” while David commented that the workshop was “Fantastic, with some laughs along the way.” Claire had a great time too, remarking that it is so nice to have an opportunity to learn new things as well as meet other carers, as “…I wouldn’t get the chance to meet other adult carers normally.” We are very much looking forward to the next session, as we continuing to be inspired by the decorative and sensory qualities food can have.
Basic pickling liquor
Make enough for 4-5 small jars worth of pickle
450ml white wine vinegar
1 teaspoon salt
Spices of choice
Vegetables and herbs of choice, chopped (think about colour and flavour combinations as well as textures, to give a beautiful and delicious pickle result)
Place all the ingredients apart from the vegetables into a pan, gently warm until the sugar and salt has totally dissolved. Do not boil.
Once you have made the pickling liquor, choose your pickling vegetables of choice and slice into desired shapes and layer in sterilised glass jars. You can add extra spices to the jar for increased flavour as well as contrasting shapes and textures to the veg. Make sure to pack the jars tightly with veg to avoid floating pieces. Once you have built up your colourful veg/herb layers, pour over the liquor until the contents are entirely covered. Do up lid tightly on jar and set aside to pickle for anywhere from 2 days to many months, depending on the flavour and texture you require – pickles will soften veg over time. Pickles will keep for a long time if stored in cool place, out of direct sunlight.
Sauerkraut – a good alternative to pickling for those who have a sugar free diet or those who are trying to build their gut health.
2kg very firm, pale green/ white/red cabbage (any leathery outer leaves removed), cored and either chopped finely or grated by hand or with a food processor
3 tbsp coarse crystal sea salt (or 6 tbsp flaky sea salt)
1 tsp caraway seeds (optional – can use other spice or chilli if you prefer)
1 tsp peppercorns
- Make sure that your hands and everything else coming into contact with the cabbage, are very clean. It’s wise to use a container that will comfortably fit the softened cabbage, allowing several inches of room at the top to avoid overflow.
- Shred the cabbage thinly – a food processor makes light work of this. Layer the cabbage and the salt in the tub or bowl. Massage the salt into the cabbage for 5 mins, wait 5 mins, then repeat. You should end up with a much-reduced volume of cabbage sitting in its own brine. Mix in the caraway seeds (or alternative spice/chilli) and the peppercorns.
- Cover the surface of the cabbage entirely with a sheet of cling film, then press out all the air bubbles from below. Weigh the cabbage down using a couple of heavy plates, or other weights that fit your bowl, and cover as much of the cabbage as possible. The level of the brine will rise to cover the cabbage a little. Cover the tub with its lid (or more cling film) and leave in a dark place at a cool room temperature (about 18-20C) for at least 5 days. It will be ready to eat after 5 days, but for maximum flavour leave the cabbage to ferment for anywhere between 2-6 weeks (or until the bubbling subsides).
- Check the cabbage every day or so, releasing any gases that have built up as it ferments, and give the cabbage a stir to release the bubbles. If any scum forms, remove it with a spoon, rinse the weights in boiling water and replace the cling film. You should see bubbles appearing within the cabbage, and possibly some foam on the top of the brine. It’s important to keep it at an even, cool room temperature – too cool and the ferment will take longer than you’d like, too warm and the sauerkraut may become mouldy or ferment too quickly, leading to a less than perfect result.
- The cabbage will become increasingly sour the longer it’s fermented, so taste it now and again. When you like the flavour, transfer it to smaller sterilised jars and keep it in the fridge for up to 6 months.