Pickled Mirabelles

They are taking over. Sorry fresh veggies, butter, bacon and milk, you are now living on borrowed time. This is the age of the jars and they have decreed that there won’t be enough space for you in the fridge for much longer. Pretty soon there will be a jar in every gap, every shelf, in the drawers and in the doors and there’s nothing we can do to stop them.

It used to be, in our refrigerator, that our top shelf was for preserves, the middle shelf for dairy, the bottom shelf for meat and the drawers for veg. When I say casually that lately we seem to have acquired quite a lot of chutneys, relishes, jams, marmalades, pickles, fruit butters, ketchups, mustards, chilli sauce, sriracha, hoisin, horseradish, mint sauce… well, you get my drift. Basically it’s out of control. Our vast array of jarred goods are now happily commandeering every single shelf in our fridge. So much so that I have banned myself from doing any further food shopping until we have started to finish off some of the contents of those jars. It’s easier said than done as every little jar has its own special purpose in our kitchen. Whether it’s my chinese damson sauce for my duck summer rolls or my blackberry butter for my blackberry crumble bars or even my mango chutney which I like to dollop a small amount of into my curries, so they are all needed, constantly used and enjoyed.

Pickled Mirabelles

The worst thing is that yesterday, I added another jar to the fridge so really I might as well forego proper meals completely and just dig into the horseradish with a spoon and call it lunch.

These pickled mirabelles had been stored safely away in the larder until yesterday, sealed, where they could have been left undisturbed for another ten months at least. We made them weeks ago when the allotment man at Ally Pally farmers’ market had kilos and kilos of them for sale for a few weeks running – back when it was Mirabelle season presumably. They are from the plum family in case you don’t know them and I’m sorry to say I had never heard of them until this year. They can most commonly be found in Lorraine in France but these ones were from Essex. They are yellow, tiny and particularly sweet and juicy. They do make, by all accounts, a very lovely jam, but we wanted to do something different with them.

Pickled Mirabelles

For some reason I had become convinced I needed to pickle some fruits. I had eaten pickled gooseberries as part of a cheese board at a local restaurant and was up for pickling anything small sweet and round. When we brought a kilo of mirabelles home from the farmers’ market they seemed to be ideal for the purpose. I hadn’t pickled fruit before so I followed a recipe I knew was guaranteed to be delicious as it came from the kitchen of Diana Henry from her Salt, Sugar, Smoke cookbook ,which really must be one of my favourite cookbooks of all time. It was a simple recipe to follow as well, one of those assembly type affairs where you more or less put everything in a saucepan, bring to the boil for a few minutes then decant into jars. Really, the best kind of preserving. She used her pickling recipe for cherries but I saw no reason why it wouldn’t work for our mirabelles.

Pickled Mirabelles

I can very smugly say I was completely correct. They are golden and jewel like in the jar, and when you remove them they sparkle in the October sunshine making them look utterly irresistible. They taste sweet with just a touch of sourness which makes them absolutely ideal with cheese or cold meats. They do have a small stone in the middle though so you must be careful when you pop them in your mouth that you don’t break your tooth. Yesterday, when I found an errant jar of the mirabelles in the larder I remembered that not only had I not blogged about them (shame on me) but I was thrilled that they would be ideal with the ham salad I was about to eat for my lunch. So out they came and now they have been opened, they have joined the rest of their condiment comrades in the fridge.

I wasn’t content with just pickling my mirabelles but also had a go at doing the same with some grapes with the syrup which was leftover and then when I still had some more leftover syrup after that I pickled the original cherries but added a dash of amaretto. I haven’t tasted those yet, they are still for now in the larder where they could safely reside until our Christmas cheeseboard. Something tells me though they won’t last until Halloween as I’m now working my way through these mirabelles at an alarming pace. It’s safe to say that it doesn’t look like our fridge is going to be back in use any time soon.

Pickled Mirabelles

Pickled Mirabelles
Adapted from Diana Henry’s ‘Cerises au Vinegar’ in Salt Sugar Smoke

1 kg mirabelles
600ml cider vinegar
½ cinnamon stick
900g granulated sugar
4 cloves
¼ tsp nutmeg

  1. Prick each Mirabelle with a cocktail stick so the fruit doesn’t split in the pan, the place in a large saucepan with the rest of the ingredients.
  2. Bring to a boil, then simmer for 4 minutes.
  3. Take off the heat and remove the mirabelles with a slotted spoon, decanting into sterilised jars.
  4. Place the syrupy vinegar back onto the heat then bring back to a boil and keep at a rolling boil for about 10 minutes until the syrup reduces slightly. Remove from the heat and leave to cool.
  5. Once cooled, spoon the syrup into the jars with the mirabelles until filled and seal.
  6. If there is any vinegar syrup left over then decant into a separate bottle and use for salad dressings.