The Caterer

Pickled rock samphire, by John Wright

29 May 2009
Pickled rock samphire, by John Wright

Despite all the horrid things said about rock samphire, this recipe is really rather good. The "kerosene" flavour remains slightly in evidence, but is much moderated by the sweetness - and by the pickling process. Use the young shoots of May. Eat with cheese and bread or with a mackerel salad.


  • 300ml cider vinegar
  • 1tsp white peppercorns
  • 25g sugar
  • Finely grated zest of 1/2 lemon
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 70g rock samphire leaves (use the topmost sprigs), washed
  • 1tbsp olive, hemp or rapeseed oil
  • Makes 1 jar

Put the vinegar, peppercorns, sugar, lemon zest and bay leaf into a saucepan. Bring to a simmer and let it bubble for 10 minutes to reduce a little.

Blanch the rock samphire in salted water for a few seconds, then, without rinsing, pack into a sterilised jar, leaving a 2cm space at the top.

Pour on the hot pickling liquid, cover with a thin layer of oil and seal the jar with a vinegar-proof lid.

Keep your jar in a cupboard for two years, then throw it away (just kidding).

The recipe is taken from the book River Cottage Handbook No.5, Edible Seashore, by John Wright. For a limited-edition, signed copy of Edible Seashore for the special price of £8.99, visit

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