Pickled Onions

Having been sat in the garage for two weeks waiting for their moment in the limelight, time was finally found to do a spot of pickling. These were the Brown pickling SY300 onion seed that we sowed back in March and we were starting to lose some as they turned squidgy.

Basic preparation of the onions – spend an evening in front of the telly peeling and topping and tailing them. Give them a good rinse out in fresh cold water. Then pop them all into a bowl, cover with more fresh cold water and add plenty of sea salt until you can’t dissolve any more into the solution. Cover with something to stop flies/dust/dogs/children getting in and leave overnight. The salt leaches the water from the onions and will make for a crisper onion. The fact that it is sea salt in theory gives a clearer finish to the pickle.

Next day, drain the onions and pat dry to get rid of as much water as possible. As it was my first time I cheated and used ready-spiced pickling vinegar – I washed and popped into a 100 degree oven the jars. Not one for totally cheating, and feeling slightly adventurous, I mixed the pickling vinegar with balsamic vinegar – 2 parts PV to 1 part BV, and then brought the pickling/balsamic vinegar concoction to simmering point. Removed the jars from the oven, popped the onions in tightly and poured the warm vinegar in. The heated contents pulled the pop-up middle of the jar lid down to create a decent seal as it cooled. Job done.

Next time I’ll experiment with my own pickling spice mix, but gently does it 🙂

Poor chook

We’ve been here before, but I didn’t recognise the signs at all. One day Lonely (so named by our daughter as she was always away from the rest of the flock) was happy, the next day hunched up and eyes closing. Never a good sign, but checks for mites, lice, bad breath and liquid from her vent all proved ok, so off to the vets we went. Whilst I’d say I’m reasonably pragmatic about these things, we’ve grown quite attached to these latest chooks after they were left with us by someone who needed to rehome them due to their own house move. They didn’t come in the best of shape and it’s taken 6 months to get them settled and gradually introduced to the existing flock. We’re reasonably sure she was a New Hampshire Red bantam, though we’ve never been told that. The vet diagnosed a large infection in the body – most probably peritonitis, though there was no discharge. The chooks have all recently gone through the moult and she was just coming out of it, but the hard weather seems to have struck at a bad time for a chicken who’s putting her all into growing feathers and the likelihood is that a soft egg just never made it out. We had no choice but to say goodbye to her 🙁

First Frost

Just thought I’d post a quick pic of a frosty morning. The weathermen are predicting a cold snap – it has a name my father-in-law has mentioned but it escapes me at present. Needless to say the chooks will be getting their winter-preparation soon!