As we enter into March and into the first few weeks of Spring, there is a lull in new produce in what we call the 'fallow period'. This is a transitional period where your skills in zero-waste cooking really can come into play. Through preservation methods, we can capture the season gone by in a Kilner jar. It's a wonderful skill to learn and a fun experience in the kitchen for people of all ages and cooking abilities.
On curing and preserving from Oliver Gladwin;
"Curing is an essential way of preserving meat from the farm to the table. If it wasn’t for this magical process, there would be an unacceptable amount of wastage. Curing also often improves the flavour of meat, for instance in treacle-cured pork, Christmas spiced bacon, and orange juniper bresaola.
So what is this mystical procedure? Curing is simply placing food in a salty environment which draws out its moisture by osmosis. This has the welcome effect of concentrating flavour. I use pure dried vacuum packs of salt, because the crystals are random and sharp in shape, which allow the salt to penetrate quickly and evenly. Curing can be done in many different ways, from wet cures or brines, in which the salt is dissolved in water or other liquids, to dry curing, in which it isn’t. For the latter you can use 100 per cent salt, as for air-dried leg of pork (above), a mixture of salt and sugar, or a combination of salt and aromatics, as usually employed in fish curing. For wet cures a good rule is to weigh the meat or fish and then weigh out 20 per cent of this figure in salt. Mix the salt well with enough water to cover the produce you are curing and pour it over until it is submerged.
I also like to add sugar or some other sweet substance to my cures. A new favourite is bresaola cured in red wine, coriander seeds, garlic and golden syrup.
Preserving vegetables, fruit and eggs can be just as rewarding as curing meat or fish. We ferment, cure and pickle lots of vegetables. We keep the pickling liquor because it tends to improve with usage".
Winter Vegetable Kimchi Recipe:
With a hispi cabbage head sliced, wash in water then macerate in 200g of table salt for 15 mins then squeeze the water out.
Add julienned carrots, shaved celery, and shaved fennel.
In a Thermomix, add 2-4 whole chillis, 5 cloves of garlic, 2 bunches of dill, 50ml white wine vinegar, blitz into a smooth paste.
Mix well for 1 week at room temperature, and then leave in the fridge for one more week.