Celia Hart's blog about what's going on in and around her studio.
Art, printmaking, inspirations, gardening, vegetables, hens, landscapes, wild flowers, East Anglia, adventure, travel.

Monday, 28 July 2008

Pickle factory

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
• plums
• plum or greengage
• those funky 1,000 year old eggs from Chinese cuisine
• Italian prunes
• tomatillos
• 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.


  1. Ooh a prize! How exciting! As your cards have come in really useful for birthdays and thankyou cards this is fab news. And badges too? Fantastic!

    I must confess though, when I visited your Open Studio Cliff told me he was looking up pickled walnut recipes so in a way it was a cheat! Not giving up my prize though!

  2. Oh Emma! You're so honest! But I had a feeling you may have gleaned some inside information when you visited, so that's why Dottycookie and Gina share the prizes.


  3. Oh how exciting! I thought I would be way off the mark. A friend gave me the recipe for pickling walnuts last year as we have a walnut tree in the garden but as yet it hasn't borne any fruit. All those jars look very impressive.

  4. Happy as I am to have won - very much looking forward to seeing your lovely cards! - I have to wonder if the walnuts are a local thing given that all 3 of the winners live so very close together ;-)

    I've never tasted pickled walnuts!

  5. We have a grove of walnut trees locally, planted by the City Council (Hull). No-one seems to know what they are (except us!) We pick them in the ripe stage - when they fall from the tree. At this stage the green husk is going brown and rotting a bit. It takes about 3 weeks for the black staining to go from your hands!
    We found the nuts needed a couple of weeks to 'cure' - to dry out on sheets of newspaper - because they are fairly wet and black when peeled from the husks. Another couple of weeks after shelling and they are perfect. We've found you can freeze them succesfully. So any you haven't pickled - watch for them to drop.

  6. Hi Gina - we thought your answer would give everyone a clue! We have a small walnut tree and this year's crop looks promising (but the green walnuts for pickling came from a park near Cambridge).

    Hi Dottycookie – Cliff has researched lots of recipes, the one we followed is based on Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall's in The River Cottage Cookbook. Maybe East Anglia is the last stronghold of walnut picklers!

    Hi Veg Heaven - we love the mature walnuts too - there are a couple of walks we do in October so we can pick up walnuts as we go. I'm very fond of wet walnuts - eaten fresh when they are creamy and moist. But we're in competition with the local squirrels!

  7. It's the gift that keeps giving! I'm so pleased that my "badges" (we call them "pinbacks" in the States) are getting passed along.
    I've never seen or heard of pickled walnuts. My sister-in-law has a pecan tree. I wonder if it would work for those nuts...


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