Updated: Jun 10
For many of us, the flavour, texture and experience of eating pickled cucumbers, is far more than you probably ever considered. These crunchy, salty, sweet, morsels are our heritage, our culture and it's what can send you back in time, to another generation. A family heirloom recipe, that is shared from generation to generation, and adapted, reconfigured and changed with time.
Have you ever stopped to think why you like some pickled cucumbers, and not others? And for many, this experience is knowing which brand of pickles to buy from the supermarket shelf. Is your choice Eskal dill pickles? or perhaps the sweeter flavour of Marco Polo pickles? But when was the last time you enjoyed homemade pickled cucumbers?
Like your mum's Bolognese sauce, it takes time for your brain, and your palate, to adjust to a life long memory of delicious flavours and customs. So here's the thing, below is a basic recipe for pickled cucumbers, and you have the knowledge and memory, to adjust the brine, to your own liking. We have made the quantities super easy to remember. For every cup of boiling water, add 1 tablespoon rock salt and one tablespoon vinegar.
The cucumbers also make a big difference to the end result, so whenever you see fresh gherkins, that's the sign to start pickling. Gherkins are traditionally found in smaller, local green grocers, and are only seasonally available. The next best option, are the smallest Lebanese cucumbers.
1 large glass jar, approx. 2.5 litres
2 tablespoons rock salt (use less salt if using finer sea salt)
3 cups boiling water
1 tablespoon sugar (optional)
½ cup white vinegar 1kg small pickling cucumbers (or enough to fill jar)
4 cloves garlic, peeled
2 red chillies
4 dill sprigs
4 bay leaves
1 teaspoon mixed peppercorns
1 teaspoon mustard seeds
1 teaspoon coriander seeds
To sterilise the jar, either wash through the dishwasher, or wash metal lid and jar in boiling water, dry, then place on a baking tray in a 120C oven for 20 minutes. Let cool.
Place rock salt in a clean, stainless bowl and then add boiling water. Stir with stainless spoon until dissolved. Add sugar to the boiling water, if you want to slightly sweeter flavour. Add vinegar and let cool.
Rinse cucumbers and chillies, drain. Pack closely into sterilised jar with chillies, dill, bay leaves and sprinkle the spices over the top. It’s so important to squeeze as much as you can into the jar, so the cucumbers don’t float to the top and sit above the brine.
Pour brine over cucumbers to cover. Depending on the size of your jar, you may need to top up the brine with vinegar, to cover the cucumbers. It’s important to let the brine cool to room temperature before pouring the brine over the cucumbers.
Sit jar in a cool place, with the lid sitting ajar, over the top of the pickles, for 2-3 days. Note, the garlic may turn blue or green in the jar. Don’t be alarmed, this is the effect of the acid on the natural pigments in the garlic. Pickling is more effective at room temperature.
As the cucumbers start the pickling process, they shrink in size and will start floating above the brine. We like to add lengths of raw carrot or onion wedges to the jar, which pushes everything under the brine. After 2 days, secure lid on jar and place in the fridge. Bonus! you will have some pickled carrots or onions!
As these are homemade pickles, and have no additives or preservatives, only clean utensils can be placed into the jar ie not your hands. This will extend its shelf life.
Makes one large jar, approx. 2.5 litres
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