Quick summer pickle – Sweet and Sour Courgettes

Sweet & Sour Courgettes

Sweet & Sour Courgettes

As the halcyon days of summer slowly but inevitably draw to a close, it is with mixed emotion that I look towards the autumn days which are fast approaching. J will be back at school and studying hard, I hope, for his GCSEs (formerly known as “O” levels) while I try my best not to worry that he is not doing enough. On the other hand there are birthday celebrations to plan, trips to look forward to and game and autumn harvests to anticipate. It has been a wonderful summer of glorious weather, new beginnings, re-connecting with family and old friends and making some lovely new ones along the way. I never look forward to the cold weather but will try to appreciate more the events that it heralds.

Now is the time to preserve what you can of summer’s bounty. We are very lucky to have wonderful neighbours who have planted a vegetable patch from which they have been kind enough share their courgettes. Which I love! I came across a recipe for a quick summer pickle in an in-store magazine and straight away had to make it, tinkering with the flavourings of course.

Chilli flakes, fennel seeds and turmeric. (Missing from the photo are the coriander seeds)

Chilli flakes, fennel seeds and turmeric. (Missing from the photo are the coriander seeds) The gorgeous little spice bottles are from Ikea.

The turmeric gives the courgettes a glowing golden hue and the fennel and the coriander seeds contribute a warm herbal note.

Sweet and Sour Courgettes

Sweet and Sour Courgettes

The sweet and sour pickle juice is delicious too – use in salad dressings and marinades; douse hot potatoes with it and then add a little mayo and chopped up pickles for a delicious salad. And the sweet and sour pickle juice fantastic in a Bloody Mary! There is a wonderful article on Food52 about the uses of pickle juice. Pickleback shot anyone?

Cheese, Crackers and Sweet & Sour Courgettes

Cheese, Crackers and Sweet & Sour Courgettes

The courgettes retain their crunch whilst the onions mellow in the brine

I am entering this recipe in the Shop Local Challenge hosted by Elizabeth’s Kitchen Diary. Do go over and take a look at her blog – there are some wonderful recipes there.

Shop Local

Shop Local hosted by Elizabeth’s Kitchen Diary

Sweet and Sour Courgettes

  • Servings: Makes 1 x 500ml or 2 x 250ml jars
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print


  • 500g courgettes (or thereabouts)
  • 1 red onion
  • 2Tbsp flaky sea salt like Maldon (substitute  about 1Tbsp regular table salt if you don’t have the flaky sea salt). Kosher or pickling salt is the best but I don’t think it is easily found here in the UK – or maybe I just haven’t noticed it!

Sweet Brine:

  • 400ml white wine or cider vinegar
  • 200g sugar (use white sugar as golden muddies the colour of the brine syrup)
  • 1/4 tsp turmeric
  • 1/2 tsp red chilli flakes (you can increase this to 1 tsp if you like a little more heat)
  • 1tsp fennel seeds
  • 1tsp *dry roasted coriander seeds


  1. Trim the ends then slice the courgettes into 1/2cm coins.
  2. Peel and slice the red onion into thin rings
  3. Layer in a bowl and sprinkling with salt as you go
  4. Cover and place in the fridge for about an hour or cover with ice for the same time. Keeping them cold helps to keep the courgettes firm.
  5. In the meantime, place all the sweet brine ingredients into a (non-reactive) saucepan and bring to a boil. Turn heat down and simmer for about 5 minutes. Remove pan from heat and let the brine cool to room temperature. You might want to open all your windows and turn on all extractor fans when you make the brine – the smell of boiling vinegar is quite pungent to say the least.
  6. Layer the courgettes and onions (do not rinse off the salt) into a sterilised jar, pour over the sweet brine, cover and refrigerate. Ready after a 24 hour steep and still tastes delicious 6 weeks later.

*To dry roast seeds like cumin and coriander, pop them into a non-stick pan on medium high heat for about 5-8 minutes, stirring or shaking the pan from time to time to ensure that all sides are being roasted. You can smell them as they begin to toast – but do keep as eye on them as they can burn easily. I usually do a small jar full at a time as they keep for a long time. Dry roasting really intensifies the flavour and adds more depth to the finished dish.


  • Cheese plate
  • Roast beef or tuna or cheese sandwiches
  • Chopped up in a potato salad also using the brine to douse the hot potatoes before adding  mayonnaise
  • In an egg salad
  • With cold cuts
  • In burgers
  • Serve as a condiment at a barbecue
© Selma Jeevanjee and Selma’s Table, 2013, 2014. Unauthorised use and/or duplication of this material, including photographs without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Selma Jeevanjee and Selma’s Table with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Cheese plate

Cheese plate