Pickling has been around for over 4000 years with its origins in preservation as a way of making the harvest yield stretch further. Pickling was particularly common during the days of sea exploring and during times of war for surviving the long months. The brine is a great way to add your own flavours - typical Irish ones being caraway seeds, thyme, rosemary, sage as well as spices like nutmeg which was brought over with the Vikings who established trade routes with the East.
Time: 10 mins (prep), 5 mins (cook)
Equipment: 1x sauce pan, 2x mixing bowl, 1x chef's knife, 1x tablespoon, 1x wooden spoon
Take your cucumber, cut it in half and then split it length ways.
Use a tablespoon to remove the seeds from the centre of the cucumber. Then using your chef's knife slice down the cucumber.
Place the cucumber into a bowl and then sprinkle some salt over the top.
Now if you have another type of cucumber like me, slice that across creating half moon shapes and add those to the bowl. Give it a good mix with the salt.
Into a hot pan add the vinegar and sugar allowing for the sugar to dissolve (tase as you go). Into the hot pickle add the cucumbers.
Add your aromatics to the hot pickle and mix well.
Jar the hot pickles and leave in your fridge until needed.
This is such an easy way to preserve vegetables that are going out of season. I love how it’s a way of keeping memories from that time of the year.
Use any vegetables you like.
Originally domesticated in India around 1500bc and then they spread towards the Mediterranean about a thousand years later. The cucumber is the second most important vegetable from its family (second to the watermelon). Known for being refreshing and mild in taste, they are usually pickled or eaten raw. The flavours come from the action of chewing that breaks up the enzymes in the cucumber.
The seeds can be a bit watery and bitter so I prefer to take them out - but it is completely up to you.
We use salt in this recipe to draw out the excess moisture through the process of Osmosis. This will help pull out the moisture and firm up the texture of the cucumber.
The 5 Cucumber varieties
Middle Eastern & Asian - All typically thin and smaller.
American Pickling variety - Slower growing and thin skinned (for quicker pickling)
American slicing variety - Bred for large scale farming and long distribution times.
European - Grown in greenhouses, they are longer and thin in shape and usually aren’t as bitter as other varieties.
Armenian - Actually an elongated African melon.
With the pickling liquor I want you to adjust the sweetness by taste. Add a small amount gradually and then add more to balance the flavour.
Use enough vinegar to cover the vegetables in your pan, and then adjust your sugar levels accordingly.
The most important thing with pickles, jams and any jarred goods is to sterilise your pot first (over 100°C/212°F)
When putting your pickles into the jar follow this method.
The aromatics are a great way to add flavour to the pickles.