Bottle the Taste of Summer

Put the taste of summer into a bottle

Brinjals and chillies can be preserved in delicious relishes that will remind you of summer in the cooler months

Fruit production of brinjals and peppers slows down rapidly in February and March as temperatures reach their peak, but you can pickle the last of your crops to preserve that unmistakable taste of summer. Here are two quick and easy recipes that work well.

Red chilli relish
Take a handful of freshly harvested red chillies, cut each one lengthwise and remove the seeds (if you want a milder relish. Leave them in if you like it hot!). Mix the chillies with about 3-5 teaspoons of salt and lay them in a colander for about 1 hour. The salt will draw water out of the chillies and will also remove some of the spiciness. Meanwhile, take 2 tablespoons each of  yellow mustard seeds and fennel seeds, and grind them together using a pestle and mortar. Warm 1 cup of vegetable oil to a moderate temperature, stir in the fennel and mustard seeds, and then add the drained chillies. Make sure the chillies are completely covered in oil, and then bottle them in sterilised preserving jars. The relish will keep for about 1 month if refrigerated.

Brinjal pickle
Take about 1kg of freshly harvested brinjals and cut them into pieces approximately 1cm thick and 5cm long. Add 2 cups of water, 2 cups of white grape vinegar and 3 tablespoons of salt to a cooking pot, and bring it to a boil. Boil the brinjal pieces for no more than 4 minutes, then set them aside in a bowl. Mix together 1 cup of sunflower oil and 2 cups of olive oil in a bowl, and add 5 tablespoons of dried oregano, and chopped up garlic and chilli to taste. For a more exotic flavour, try adding a little cardamom. Coat the cooked brinjal pieces in the oil mixture, then place them in sterilised preserving jars and refrigerate.

The Gardener