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In a Pickle

I have been bottling things up lately, in a physical sense that is. There are some jars of raspberry pink pickle on the shelf to prove it.

Bizarrely, I don’t think I have ever made a pickle before, except perhaps a pumpkin one we used to make at Spring, which I will make and post here, too. It was a very good pickle for numerous reasons, as is this one.

A pickle is something that I have perhaps overlooked in my culinary life, because I used to be an avid chutney maker. I foolishly believed Chutney served a similar purpose, providing the sweet and sour needed alongside a good cheese, or stuffed in a sandwich. Chutney is all very well and delicious, but it tends to be a bit lacking in the aesthetic department. Boldly and inescapably brown, which I like – brown is a lovely, comforting colour which instantly evokes mud and English winters (often an English summer too) – but there’s something that little bit magical about glowing jars of coloured pickles adorning a pantry shelf (I don’t – more’s the pity – have a pantry but if I did it would be groaning with shelves of pickles and preserves). Also, there’s the textural element which chutney lacks.

This pickle, which involves one of my favourite winter salad leaves, radicchio, is the most gloriously renaissance colour, and the vinegar you ladle from the jar is the prettiest pale raspberry-stain pink. It is a wonderful way to make use of this winter leaf, and will convert radicchio haters as the bitterness is barely detectable.

Fold through salads or stuff into sandwiches, top pizza or just line your shelves and admire it glowing in the light like a scarlet lantern.

Adapted from Towpath the recipe book

Makes 3 medium-sized jars

3-4 heads of radicchio, washed and separated into leaves

1 litre of cider vinegar (or white wine vinegar)

500g sugar

2 tsp salt

Wash and sterilise your jars.

In a saucepan, bring the vinegar, sugar and salt to a boil.

Place the radicchio leaves in the jars, pressing them down so that they are nice and snug. Pour over the pickle liquor and seal. Leave for at least 24 hours before eating.


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