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Journal

Perfect Picnic Pickles

In the long, warm days of summer, our thoughts turn to heading outdoors to find a green space and enjoying a picnic with family and friends. There’s something about eating outside in the fresh air - especially after a hungry-making walk or swim - that’s such fun.

Picnic Landscape

Part of the fun of the picnic is working out what to take with you. Sandwiches, pies, cold meats, potato salad, radishes, hard-boiled eggs, crisps . . . there are so many options. Here are Rosebud we have a tip for you. When you’re packing your picnic hamper, don’t forget to include your pickles! One of the most famous of literary picnics is the one that Ratty packs in a hamper for Mole in Kenneth Grahame’s much-loved classic The Wind of the Willows.

What’s inside it?’ asked the Mole, wriggling with curiosity.‘There’s cold chicken inside it,’ replied the Rat briefly;‘cold tongue cold ham cold beef pickled gherkins salad french rolls cress sandwiches spotted meat ginger beer lemonade soda water —‘

Note the important presence in Ratty’s list of pickled gherkins! Ratty knew a thing or two about good food. As someone who enjoys picnicking with his boys, we asked Rosebud’s Chef John Barley to tell us more about how Rosebud’s pickles are made and which picnic foods they go well with.

Piccalilli Picnic Landscape

Traditional Piccalilli

A classic, historic pickle which John feels is “very versatile”. As with all our preserves, it’s made with great care. The vegetables are brined first, blanched in malt vinegar, then put in a hot sauce. “Cauliflowers, tomatoes, peppers and onions all have different cook times,” explains John. “We brine them separately so that we can add them in at the appropriate time.” The resulting piccalilli, flavoured with mustard and celery seeds is “very savoury” John feels it goes brilliantly with roast ham, braised ham hock, in fact, most charcuterie.

GYP Picnic Landscape

"If you’re going to take a pork pie on a picnic, I’d take a jar of Great Yorkshire Pickle".

Great Yorkshire Pickle

Rosebud’s Great Yorkshire Pickle is made to a recipe of John’s. The vegetables are chopped in various ways, he explains. “The onions get sliced very, very finely so that they melt into the pot, while the carrots are cubed to give little pockets of crunch. Other elements include a dried fruit stock, “a strong malt vinegar”, chilli, garlic, ginger “and a good shot of Black Sheep Ale”, a local beer. “If you’re going to take a pork pie on a picnic, I’d take a jar of Great Yorkshire Pickle,” says John. “The nuances to the pickle, the acidity in it, cuts through all the rich cheeses and hams. It’s very good with Lincolnshire poacher and also goes really well with soft smoked cheeses.”

Cucumber Picnic Landscape

"This is an old school bread and butter pickle".

Sweet Cucumber Pickle

Another popular pickle in the Rosebud range is Sweet Cucumber Pickle. In effect, explains John, this is an old school bread and butter pickle. “It is very, very simple but relies on getting lots of basic things right. We have to be really careful when we make it. The circumference of the cucumbers can’t be too big. We can’t have any cucumber seeds in it, as they would make it bitter.” The sliced cucumbers and onions are brined, left to marinade, then washed and drained overnight to drain off excess water. The final pickle is flavoured with mustard seeds, sugar, a little bit of turmeric and cider vinegar and cooked with great care. “A good cucumber pickle will have a nice crunch to it,” says John firmly. “In a bad one the onions and cucumber will be slimy.” This pickle is good with “anything lightly cured”, so excellent with smoked salmon or trout and also very good with ham or smoked chicken.

Pickles in your Picnic

Pickling developed historically as a way of preserving perishable foods, such as vegetables, often by immersing them in brine or vinegar. Pickles are found and prized in cuisines around the world: from the dill pickles that are popular in the States to Japan’s pickled ginger, enjoyed with sushi. These days we value pickles for their texture and flavour, the way that they add zing to a dish. They’re that little extra touch that can really transform food and give it a lift. John has no doubt about why you should include pickles in your picnic. “I just think pickles really add to the experience and help make a picnic,” says John with a smile.

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