One of our favourite things about starting The Grocery List has been sharing tips, tricks and information with our suppliers. When we were talking to the team at The Virtual Cheese awards, we were let in on a little foodie secret! Pickled Walnuts! A truly British dish steeped in history, but almost forgotten in our modern food-based lives. Now, we were a little sceptical at first, but we promise you it has got to go straight on to your Grocery list.
You can buy them in more shops than you would think, try your local cheesemonger if you aren’t quite brave enough to pickle them yourselves. They go particularly well with cheese and cold meats, think along the lines of an elevated ploughman’s. They are pungent and rich and full of umami and add a level of flavour that once tried, you will want to repeat.
You use green walnuts to make the pickle. Picking season is usually June but you aren’t too late to get your hands on some if you know of a walnut tree nearby. You need to get the nuts just as they start to ripen and before they form a hard shell. Once in the brine, they will need three weeks to mature into the perfect pickle.
For 1 kg of green walnuts you will need the following for your pickling mixture:
- 1 litre of Malt Vinegar
- Pickling spices (2 Star Anise, 1 stick of cinnamon, 5 whole cloves, 1 tsp of black peppercorns, 1 small red or green chili and a little knob of root ginger)
- 100g of soft brown sugar
- Check the walnuts are soft by sticking a needle into each nut, it should have some give, if not the shell has begun to form, and you will need to discard it.
- Makea brine out of 150g of salt and 500ml of cold water
- Put the nuts into a big pan or casserole dish, you will leave them in the pot until they are done so make sure you won’t need it!
- Cover the nuts in the brine and leave in a cool place for 3 days.
- Drain the nuts and repeat the process every 3 days for about 3 weeks, you will notice the walnuts float to the top and some will turn black, this is exactly what you want.
- After three weeks drain and rinse the walnuts and set aside on kitchen roll for 1-2 days until the nuts are completely dry and black.
- Put the spices and sugar into a pan with the vinegar and bring to the boil then take off the heat.
- Fill sterilised jars with the nuts and pour over the pickling juice and seal.
- Leave them in a cupboard for 2 months for full maturity.