I have just spent the most wonderful week staying with my lovely friend Lis and her family in the seaside town of Tenby in Wales.
Now many mock the weather in Wales saying it is the same as we have here on the west coast of Scotland – wet, windy and dull, well maybe it is sometimes but I was treated to days of dazzling sunshine and a warmth I usually only get to enjoy when I leave Scotland via an aeroplane and touch down on foreign soil. This was summer holiday weather and I appreciated every minute of it.
Lis was my best buddy and coffee companion here until she moved down to Wales a year ago to start a new business with her husband Pete in revitalising St Catherine’s Island and Tenby Fort. A massive project that is not to be undertaken lightly. You can see more about the project here at http://tenbyisland.co.uk/ . I was enchanted by this mini mountain of rock topped by an aged fort that sits on the sandy beach at low tide but metamorphoses into a real seabound island at high tide, giving it an altogether romantic look and immediately bestowing upon every inch the stuff of mystery, magic, tall tales and adventure. Everyone loves an island and we all have our instant island thoughts, be they ideas of pirates and battles, romantic hideaways or the stuff of so many children’s books where adventures are an everyday occurrence and always washed down by lashings of ginger beer!
The island is covered in greenery and the air heady with the scents of the wild mint, thyme, samphire and flowers. Thistles, wild cabbage and daisies abound, it is a walk on the wild side, surrounded as you are by fresh sea air, blue skies, turquoise sea, rocks, sand and of course the ubiquitous seagulls chanting their cry as they swoop and dive overhead, eager eyes alight for the slightest sign that you might be carrying food and thus become a target for dive bombing and crisp/chip theft.
It is the samphire that I latched on to right away. This is rock samphire on the island but very similar to the marsh samphire that is now available in many of our supermarkets in summertime, a true healthy greenery from the seaside packed with minerals and nutrients with a delicate flavour somewhat similar to asparagus, in fact in many places it is called Sea Asparagus.
You can serve samphire raw as a salad green or lightly steamed or boiled for a couple of minutes and served with butter and a squeeze of lemon juice.
I decided that in the interests of the larder I should pickle my samphire and have it last just a little while longer.
Making Pickled Samphire
100g/3 1/2oz fresh samphire
1 clove garlic finely sliced
1 bay leaf
350ml/12 fl oz apple cider vinegar
1 tsp sugar
6 black peppercorns
1 star anise
2 allspice berries
1 tsp coriander seeds.
Pick over the samphire and rinse under cold water before patting dry on kitchen paper or a clean tea towel.
Pack the samphire into a sterilised jar and add the bay leaf and finely sliced garlic.
In a small non reactive pan gently heat the apple cider vinegar, sugar and all spices until the sugar has dissolved and then raise the heat to boil the liquid for 5 minutes.
Remove from heat and pour the hot pickling liquid over the samphire in the jar.
Pop on the lid and leave to mature in a cool dark place for 1 month.
You can store this unopened for up to 6 months.
Once opened store in the fridge and eat within a week.
This recipe makes 1 medium sized jar.
I adored my week in Wales and I shall share a few more photos with you later this week.
- 100g/3½oz fresh samphire
- 1 clove garlic finely sliced
- 1 bay leaf
- 350ml/12 fl oz apple cider vinegar
- 1 tsp sugar
- 6 black peppercorns
- 1 star anise
- 2 allspice berries
- 1 tsp coriander seeds.
- Pick over the samphire and rinse under cold water before patting dry on kitchen paper or a clean tea towel.
- Pack the samphire into a sterilised jar and add the bay leaf and finely sliced garlic.
- In a small non reactive pan gently heat the apple cider vinegar, sugar and all spices until the sugar has dissolved and then raise the heat to boil the liquid for 5 minutes.
- Remove from heat and pour the hot pickling liquid over the samphire in the jar.
- Pop on the lid and leave to mature in a cool dark place for 1 month.
- You can store this unopened for up to 6 months.
- Once opened store in the fridge and eat within a week.
- This recipe makes 1 medium sized jar.