Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Foresight and pickled cucumbers

I made some pickled cucumbers yesterday. It doesn’t take long and they should be ready to eat in a few weeks. We enjoy home made pickles,  but for some reason don’t make them as often as we could. My pickled cucumber recipe is pretty old, so I suggest you go for something more modern, but it works fine for us.

To pickle Cucumbers fliced.
Pare thirty large cucumbers, flice them into a difh, take fix onions, flice and ftrew on them fome salt, fo cover them and let them ftand to drain twenty-four hours; make your pickle of white wine vinegar, nutmeg, pepper, cloves and mace, boil the fpices in the pickle, drain the liquor clear from the cucumbers, put them into a deep pot, pour the liquor [1] upon them boiling hot, and cover them very clofe; [2] when they are cold drain the liquor from them, give it another boil; and when it is cold pour it on them again; fo keep them for ufe.
Elizabeth Moxon – English Housewifery (1790)

[1] This of course refers to the vinegar pickling liquor.
[2] I finish here and omit the following step.

I don’t use thirty cucumbers because these days we can buy them all year round. Of course doughty old Liz Moxon was writing for those with the foresight and diligence to eke out a good crop of cucumbers to take them through the lean months of winter and early spring.

In those days, domestic foresight such as this was part of a middle class lifestyle and still not wholly unconnected with survival. In later decades the job would usually have been passed to a servant and later still a food manufacturer. 

I suppose it's the other side of economic progress and efficiency. It's easier and possibly cheaper to buy pickles rather than make your own. So everything is rosy apart from losing certain intangibles we've almost forgotten - such as the need for domestic foresight.

Oddly enough, foresight seems to be a problem doesn't it?


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Paddington said...

My wife still makes pickles, jam and syrup from stuff that we grow and pick. We store quite a lot in our basement.

Graeme said...

"We store quite a lot in our basement."

I guess it must be better than trying to eat them. On a related note, several shops stock Barry Norman pickled onions - using his own "ancestral" recipe....I once bought a jar and found them inedible. I had thought it would be difficult to make a hash of making pickled onions but that recipe did the trick!

A K Haart said...

Paddington - we'd like to do more pickling, jam making etc, but we aren't great at the growing side of it.

Graeme - my parents used to make pickled onions which were pretty good. Pickled cucumbers are easier though.

Paddington said...

We also raise our own chickens and goats, for some of our meat, although it's way more expensive than buying the stuff.