Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Polish-style pickled cucumbers

When I left Edinburgh, the Polish influx was just getting started. Six years later, the Polish community is well and truly established, and is served both by a number of specialist Polish delis and by little Polish sections in most supermarkets and convenience stores. The other day, I was heading for the Chinese supermarket when I stopped into my nearest Polish shop. My eyes were instantly drawn to a couple of big baskets of very fresh looking pickling cucumbers, and I supplemented some of these with a bag of fresh dill.

12 pickling cucmbers (between 8 and 15 cm in length)
500 ml of boiling water
1 tbsps of salt
1 tbsp of sugar
4 tbsps of good quality cider or white wine vinegar
2 cloves of garlic, peeled
8 sprigs of fresh dill

  1. Put the water, salt and sugar in a pan. Bring gently to a boil, stirring so that the salt and sugar are dissolved, turn off, add the vinegar and allow to cool a little.
  2. Clean the cucmbers and distribute them between 2 large or 3 medium-sized sterilized jars. Add the garlic and fresh dill, pour the pickling solution over the cucumbers so that they are completely covered, and seal the jars.
  3. Keep at room temperature for 2 days, then store in the fridge for 1 week. The cucumbers are now ready to eat - they should taste fresh and cruncy.
In a pickle
I have a long-standing if rather intermittent love affair with pickling. I first pickled things when I was at university - peppers, cucumbers, onions, eggs (lots of eggs!) and even an octopus. I have particularly fond memories of the octopus. It was truly delicious - simmered in vinegar with plenty of herbs and some delicate spices, then preserved in oil and left to mature for 6 weeks. Shortly before making it I had been out flyposting for a CND rally (summer of 1985) and me and my friend Angus were spotted and threatened by the local criminals who, unknown to us, controlled the flyposting business in south Manchester. When I got home feeling a little shaken, I remembered the octopus in my fridge and decided to do some therapeutic cephalopod preservation.

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