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The pickles in my fridge

"sour, tart, punchy, pungent and slightly out there." Tara Wigley/OTK

Yesterday I threw out half a tin of red kidney bins - I had put them in a jar, with their aquafaba and put them in the fridge. They are not a pickle I know, but they were fermenting somewhat I think. They smelt awful anyway even though they looked alright. So I threw them out - to my everlasting shame. I did put them in the compost, so they will give back what they have lost. Because, of course, I had completely forgotten they were there. In fact I thought they were olives - maybe some of my own small pickled olives from the garden, Things go sort of cloudy with the cold in there.

Anyway it confirmed a growing determination to clear out some of the things lurking in the fridge - and the pantry too and in order to make it a more attractive thing to do, to make it a sort of a game - as that making cooking a game theory goes. So next week I am going to tackle a different pickle each day, well almost every day, and try and do something interesting with them.

Something more interesting than a sandwich that is. Well we don't actually eat sandwiches in this house, although this may be the week in which I rescue the toastie maker from the Gatehouse - our guest house at the top of the drive. Because, toasties, as I discovered today are one of the main uses to which dill pickles are put. In America anyway. Although of course I could just grill them, which might be better because we have superior bread in this house, which doesn't really suit a sandwich maker.

I'm thinking of the sandwich - both toasted and untoasted because when I began looking for ideas for what to make with pickles, I was very quickly into long lists of ideas - all American and all almost exclusively talking about dill pickles. There might have been the occasional reference to watermelon rind, but really that was it.

And most of the suggestions - other than the sandwiches - were for fried pickles - either stuffed, breadcrumbed and fried and variations thereof, or simply breadcrumbed and fried. But always - dill pickles. Snack food - and unhealthy snack food at that - even if they were oven fried.

I also saw two new American crazes Pizza and ice-cream - yes pickle ice-cream. Only in America one is tempted to say, but then maybe, and some food writers said this, a pickle perfectly complements ice-cream. As for pizza, well why not I suppose - better than pineapple anyway. Maybe you should have both pineapple and pickles on the same pizza. They might cancel each other out - or complement each other in a stunning and surprising way. We're having pizza for dinner tonight. Maybe I should add some pickles to the topping.

Americans in fact seem to be obsessed with pickles - dill pickles. Why? Well obviously in the first days of settlement pickling was a necessary process to preserve the harvests through the bare seasons. The Dutch who arrived in the 1650s are generally credited with the pickling of cucumbers, but it wasn't until the 19th century and the arrival of all the Eastern European immigrants - largely Jewish - that dill was added to the mix. Quite why it has become such an American thing nobody has really convincingly told me however. After all those same 19th century immigrants landed up in England too - where we enthusiastically absorbed their fish and chips but not quite as enthusiastically the dill pickles.

Back to my own problems. I have pickles in my fridge and my pantry that are both home-made and bought. I think the ones at the top of the list to be used up are some pickled peaches, some sauerkraut, English pickled onions, preserved limes, pickled zucchini, picallilli, pickled asparagus and home pickled olives - although I may have used all of those. Not to mention all the pickling juices I shall be left with if I do manage to empty those jars. You should never throw out pickling juices they say - excellent for extra flavour and for brining chicken before roasting. Or even reusing to pickle the next lot of surplus vegetables and fruits.

These are obviously not my pickled peaches. Mine are now much browner than these and less firm too. They are quite old but they still are surprisingly tasty. However, when I have put them out with a cheeseboard, they have never been eaten. Well they just don't look good. But I'm determined to do something with them.

I have not listed the commercial pickles that I always have in the fridge - cornichons, olives and capers, but they too could enter into my game. I don't think sun dried tomatoes qualify. And no I don't have a jar of kimchi in my fridge. In fact I've never tried it. Maybe if I get rid of all my guilty jars, I could consder it. I'm ignoring chutneys too because they are a bit different. Worthy of their own game sometime in the future.

So yes, I might put those few remaining pieces of pickled zucchini on the pizza tonight which will get me going and boost my ego. Then I think those pickled peaches - or the sauerkraut. Sauerkraut is easy of course - and we are almost in winter when it comes into its own. I just hope I don't have to depend too much on my own ideas for inspiration.

America is not all bad however. I did see this Dill pickle soup on the Taste of Home website which I thought was a pretty original use of those dill cucumbers. Alas I don't have any so I'll store it away for another time, because it does look pretty nice. Although if I'm honest, maybe it's just the photography and the croutons.

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