If you have been trawling Netflix you may have come across Portlandia, a series all about the hipsters of Portland. Turns out Portland is pretty much Hackney. No offence Hackney, you know what I mean [knowing, side long smirk]. One of the stand out sketches in Portlandia is the couple who try to pickle everything; from cucumbers to eggs to parking tickets (If you haven't seen it, take a look here). Some days that is EXACTLY how I feel.
Cucumbers, carrots, radishes, cabbage... you name it and it has been salted and pickled in one of our pickle presses. Hence why the small press above looks a little smudged and over-used.
This week I stumbled upon a new pickling idea - FERMENTED HERBS. Yup, you got it. This was an instagram-stumble and unfortunately I can't remember the identity of the person 'gramming ('gramming = too Hackney? or indeed, Hackneyed?? (double brackets and a Dad joke, oh dear)).
All those bunches of herbs that you don't quite use up, mistimed purchases and pots that are looking on their way out. All these can be stuffed in the press and saved for another day to be served with or in fish, tossed into pasta or to jazz up a slightly looking anaemic dinner. Without getting too Portlandia, or even too Little House on the Prarie, I love using up a glut of any ingredient that might otherwise get lobbed in the bin. And there is only so much random-ingredient-pesto that one can eat!
I did a bit of an internet trawl for guidance but didn't find that much beyond "wash them, chop, and add 2% salt". The best instructions being on this site which I think is written direct from Portlandia. So that's what I did. I used a rather random mix of tarragon and parsley but, from my limited research it is meant to work equally well with basil.
It isn't clear in the photo below but I rubbed the salt through the herbs before topping up with water. The trick is to keep all the herbs submerged in the brine. The brine will then take on the herb flavour and can also be used. The press part of the pickle press keeps everything well submerged; I made just enough brine to take the water level up to about an inch above the top of the press.
The suggestion is to keep them for five days out of the fridge, to allow fermentation to start, then to keep them in the fridge after. Here goes....
UPDATE: 10 days later and the results are in. And they are pretty good. Sure, the herbs look a bit like pond weed and the colour isn't exactly what you might call vibrant, but they do taste good. On balance, choosing a herb like tarragon which isn't always ready available and which has its own very distinctive flavour was a good choice. I think basil would be equally effective and my survey of google suggests that it is the other most commonly pickled herb. The texture was a little on the stringy side so we chopped it finely and sprinkled over roasted chicken and cauliflower.