Yes the gallery was turned into a Pickle Factory. But what was being pickled? Thank you for all the suggestions, which included
• some sort of heritage tomato
• plum or greengage
• those funky 1,000 year old eggs from Chinese cuisine
• Italian prunes
• stone eggs
All way off the mark!
Threadspider said "as for the green things – I wondered if they might be walnuts at first, but in the interests of being different I'm guessing a variety of plum!"
Oooooooo – you should have stuck with you first instinct there!
Gina suggested "some type of giant seed or nut – do walnuts look like that?"
Yes absolutely, they certainly do Gina, but you didn't guess what was going on.
Silverpebble said "Unshelled walnuts ready for pickling?? Do they have to be washed and dried first?"
And Dottycookie said "They look a bit like fresh walnuts to me - are you pickling?
Well done those two! I think you should share the accolade – I'll send you a pack of my cards and some of the lovely badges I received from Terry, that clever cook and author of The Hen Cam blog. And Gina, as you were the first to guess and were so so close to getting the top prize, I'm sending you some badges too!
Yes, Cliff has been pickling walnuts. They have to be picked green and before the shell inside begin to harden (test by sticking a darning needle or skewer through the green walnut). Early July is the perfect time in our part of the world. The process is a long one as the green nuts need to be pierced (a messy procedure as walnut juice stains brown everything it touches!) before being soaked in strong brine for three days then rinsed and soaked again and again. After this the nuts are dried for three days – and this is what's happening here. Over this time they turn a deep bronze-black colour.
Then they are packed in jars and a strong hot pickling vinegar is poured over them and the jars are sealed. After storing in a cool dark place for three months they will be ready. "Ready for what?" you may ask if you are unfamiliar with this delicacy. Pickled walnuts are perfect with a slice of ham or boiled bacon, or some good strong mature cheddar cheese. Something to look forward to at Christmas.