Tuesday, 10 May 2011

Ash key pickle

The seeds from the ash tree (Fraxinus excelsior) known as 'ash keys' are beginning to grow in abundance at the moment and they produce a rather interesting tasting wild food pickle. If you are going to try this you must make sure the ash keys are really young and don't already have the formation of the actual fibrous seed inside. The best way to check this is to hold the ash keys up into the light and check to see if you can see any dark fibrous material or the round seed. Another way to check is if you can snap them around the base they should be OK to use.

Pickled ash keys is actually a fairly old recipe and a method of pickling them can be found in John Evelyn's Acetaria, a Discourse of Sallets written in 1699. Who goes on to say ' Gather them young, and boil them in three to four waters to extract the bitterness; and when they feel tender, prepare a syrup of sharp whitewine vinegar, sugar and a little water.Then boil them on a very quick fire, and they will become of a green colour, fit to be potted when cold'.

If that does not enlighten you to the process of picking ash keys you can always try this method:

Ingredients: Enough ash keys to fill your preserving jar, 3 tablespoons of brown sugar, teaspoon of salt, bay leaves, peppercorns and enough spiced pickling vinegar to cover the keys.

Remove the stalks and bring to the boil in a pan for 5 minutes, drain and then repeat process (allow to cool). In a bowl mix the spices, sugar, salt and pickling vinegar until dissolved. Pour the liquid into the jar with the ash keys, seal and store in a cool place.The pickling process will take about 3 months leaving ample time to figure out what to do with theses buggers!


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