Pick the very young green ‘keys’ of the common Ash tree. The old saying goes “if you notice the Ash Keys…then its too late” – basically they get too fibrous and stringy. This recipe is over 300 years old and is a great alternative to capers and goes well with some after dinner cheese. Take your pick on the pickling spices (or what you have in the cupboard) – the basic premise is sour (vinegar), salt, sweet (sugar), piquancy (peppercorns or chilli) and warm spices. make now and leave to mature and soften for at least 12 weeks.
- half pint of Ash Keys (no stalks)
- 1 stick of cinammon
- 1 tsp cloves
- 1 tsp allspice
- 1/2 tsp grated ginger
- 1 tsp salt
- 8-12 peppercorns
- 8-12 coriander seeds
- 8-12 mustard seeds
- 1 dried birds eye chilli
- 4-5 bay leaves
- 3-4 tbsp brown sugar
- half pint of cider vinegar
- Put the spices, salt and sugar into a saucepan (stainless steel) and add the vinegar and bring slowly to the boil.
- Simmer for 5 minutes, then leave to cool and infuse for a few hours.
- Wash Ash Keys
- Place in a pan covered with cold water and bring to the boil. Simmer for 5 minutes.
- Strain off water
- Add some fresh water, bring back to boil and simmer for 5 minutes.
- Drain off the water well until partly dry and then pack into warm dry jars. Allow an inch of space at top of jar.
- Strain the spicy vinegar liquid and pour over the Ash Keys right to the brim. Drop a few peppercorns in and if you have, some mustard seed.
- Screw on the tops
- Store for 3 months to let the pickle ‘mature’.