Gherkins, or pickles, appear in the cuisine of many countries. They are delicious as a relish, a salad vegetable, give extra bite to sandwich fillings and salads, and they are also used as an accompaniment to hot dishes – a pleasant contrast to the warm food. They are also an excellent, healthy snack food.
Additive Free Gherkins
You can easily make your own additive free pickles, free from artificial colorings, flavors, or preservatives. This is a simple Hungarian recipe that doesn’t require much effort. The gherkins will taste, of course, slightly different to the store brought variety, but that’s because they are completely natural.
This particular recipe is not good for long term storage – that is, keeping them over winter This recipe is one of what is called “summer treats”, along with the elder flower drink. It is made at the beginning of summer when the dill and the tiny cucumbers just begin to ripen. It can be made – and eaten – continuously over the summer as long as the small cucumbers and dill can be obtained. Spices are all to taste, so you can alter amounts as you wish.
- 1 clean big glass jar, approx 1.5 litres or use several smaller jars, with screw lids
- 1 kg gherkin cucumbers, left whole
- 2 large fresh cloves garlic, peeled
- 4 to 5 fronds of fresh dill or 1 coffee spoon dill seeds (according to taste)
- 1 litre warm water – out of the tap
- Salt – approx one teaspoon, or less if desired
- Wash the gherkins
- Top and tail them
- If they are very thick, insert a sharp knife about 1 cm from the top, stick it right through the gherkin, and draw down to 1 cm from the bottom; turn the gherkin, and do it again, so there’s a cross through it
- Pack the gherkins into the jar.
- Add enough salt to the water so it tastes like sea water
- Fill the jar/s with the water until it reaches the point where the glass curves in to the top
- Poke in the dill, or scatter in the seeds, and the garlic cloves (if you use smaller jars you may have to cut the cloves up and put a bit into each jar)
- Cut a thick slice of white bread and stuff it into the top of the jar so the water covers it
- Cover the bread with a saucer/s upturned on the top of the jar/s
- Stand in the sunshine for three days to ferment – you might have to top up the water during the three days. The mixture will go cloudy and tiny bubbles will form as it starts to “work”
- After the three days, take out the bread and put a normal lid on the jar
Let stand inside for three days to settle and for the flavors to set, and then eat.
If there is a lot of bread sediments in the water you can sieve the liquid if you like, but the sediment doesn’t affect the taste if you leave it in there; it just looks a bit cloudy.