Saturday, 17 May 2014

pickled cucumbers

I have been watching "The Great Allotment Challenge" on BBC2. On this programme, the pairs of allotmenteers are judged on their ability to grow perfect produce, to create flower arrangements and to preserve produce. Personally, I don't see any reason why one would want to grow three identical onions or three perfectly straight and identical carrots (using some ridiculously labour intensive methods), nor do I seem to have the desire to create a flower pedestal. But I do like the part where the competitors produce preserves with their fruit and vegetables. Some of them are quite adventurous, others are classics. One pair made tomato jelly, the thought of which made me gag. It appears that the preserves are judged straight away, but I really think most preserves need a bit of rest. Jellies in particular sometimes take a bit longer to set. My last blackcurrant  jelly only set after three days. At this point I had already given up and decided to use it as cordial. Imagine my surprise when I tipped the jar to pour some into a jug and a beautiful, perfect lump of jelly plopped out!

I do like to make jams, jellies and cordials with fruit and I love to eat pickles. I don't make many vegetable preserves, this is really Richard's domain but I do make pickled cucumbers.

Cucumbers are mysterious fruit. They don't taste of much but cucumber, although I have friends who loathe the taste because to them it is strong and unpleasant. It must be some genetic trait I am sure. Cucumbers take to added flavours very easily. They are also invisible in the vegetable drawer, so much so that I forget we have some. This happened twice in the last ten days and yesterday I noticed that I had no less than five cucumbers. There is only so much cucumber salad one person can eat in a week.
Here, cucumbers need to be grown under glass and we don't have that possibility in our garden. We buy salad cucumbers shrink wrapped in plastic, which is annoying to remove but useful if you forget about your cucumbers because they liquefy neatly contained in the plastic. One of my forgotten fruit had just done that. It ended up on the compost. I decided to make pickled cucumbers with the remaining four.

This is what I did:

:: wash 4 cucumbers thoroughly using soapy water (if home grown, this may not be necessary)

:: cut the cucumbers in half lengthwise and scoop the seeds out with a small spoon.

:: slice the cucumbers into half moon shaped pieces, about 5 mm thick.

:: place them in a jar together with one thinly sliced large onion.

:: add 85 g of sea salt (or any other salt you happen to have), mix well, cover and leave over night.

:: next morning, pour of the water and rinse the cucumbers thoroughly to remove excess salt.

:: in a large pan, heat up 500 ml of white wine vinegar or cider vinegar with 250 g of sugar.

:: when the sugar is dissolved, bring to the boil

:: add 1 tsp coriander seeds, 2 tsp yellow mustard seeds, 1 tsp black pepper corns, 1/3 tsp turmeric

:: simmer for 5 min

:: add cucumbers to the simmering vinegar/sugar/spice mix

:: bring back to the boil and boil for 1 min.

:: put cucumbers in clean, sterile jam jars. Pour remaining liquid over cucumbers and seal jars.

I love the way cucumbers change their colour from vibrant green to pickle green. It happens very quickly once they are immersed in the sugary vinegar. I filled five jars using four largish salad cucumbers. I hope they are good! 

I hope there are not too many typos in this post, I am slightly tipsy after an afternoon of celebrating a friend's 40th Birthday. 40! I vaguely remember that age. I gave the Birthday boy a jar of pickled cucumbers and a bottle of wine, in a Spiderman gift bag. Classy, I know.
Sam came home early to pursue teenage activities and I followed a couple of hours later, utterly exhausted. The remaining four are still partying away. I don't know where they get the energy from.

I hope you are enjoying your weekend, wherever you are. The rain is back here in Glasgow but I hope for a drier day tomorrow. Cx


  1. Wow, I've never tried pickled cucumber, either to taste or make. I do enjoy cucumber in a salad though and chuckled at our shared experience with liquefied cucumber, thankfully also shrink-wrapped here! One of my constant gripes and a situation I'm trying to improve is the amount of waste that comes out of our fridge.

  2. I'm not too keen on pickled anything really, although I love making it and jams.
    I think a bottle of wine and something homemade is a perfect gift, I'd accept it (and drink it!) in any kind of bag!!

  3. Yum they look so good , I'm book marking them.

  4. In my experience you're never too old for a Spiderman gift bag. A great idea for using those excess cucumbers at the end of the summer. We do get through a lot, but sometimes there's a glut. Hope you're feeling re-energised today, enjoy your Sunday. CJ xx

  5. That's funny about the disappearing cucumbers. I have disappearing veggies in my fridge too, but unfortunately they aren't usually in that nice plastic wrap the cucumbers are in. :-) Your recipe for the pickled cucumbers looks yummy. I might try it, but scale it back so I only get a couple of jars.

  6. Only you could have me laughing on a post about pickling cucumbers! Nice to see the liquefied cucumber is a global issue :-) Your pickles look delicious and sounds like you had a fun afternoon! Mel x

  7. My Mum loves pickled cucumber (where I'm from they're called wallies...I have no idea why!! No one here knew what I was talking about!) Anyway I digress...and it's her birthday soon. Would the ultimate gift be grandchild made pickled cucumber?? Have a great week.

  8. I'm ashamed to admit that although my husband loves pickled cucumbers it's never occured to me that I could make my own! Guess what I'll be trying soon! Thank you so much for sharing this Christina.

    1. PS I didn't spot any typos in your post but there is definitely one in my comment ... oops!

  9. Hey Christina,
    I've watched a couple of episodes of The Allotment Challenge and it really annoyed me, so I stopped. The plots looked beautiful, and I hope one day to have as productive a plot myself. But like you, I'm not in it for best in show carrots or whatever. I did like the preserve bit. I make my own chutney and give it away for Christmas with other foodie treats. But I'm not very good with pickled veggies. I think it's because I was given some scratch and sniff gerkins stickers by my friend Catherine when I was about 14. We plastered them all over my school exercise books, and the smell was appalling.
    I was a bit tipsy when I wrote my 10 random things the other night. A coupple of rude one had to be deleted ;)
    Leanne xx

  10. Oohhh, they look great. May have to give these a whirl xo


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