Tuesday, January 20, 2015

HOW TO MAKE TRADITIONAL POLSKI OGORKI (or pickles that are better than McDonald's)

By Dave B
With a passion for all things green, Dave will be sharing his journey as an (wannabe) urban farmer. A small 1/2 acre plot of sloping land and 3 wild kids won't hold him back. From planting to harvesting to preserving, Dave is our go-to guy when it comes to the garden. On a large scale, his dream is to raise awareness of the need for reconnection of local people with local food, to benefit the general health and well-being of the community as well as the earth. You can follow his journey more closely over at Blindberry Farm.



Being of Polish descent, I have grown up enjoying the delight that is Polski Ogorki (Polish Dill Pickle) - it is by far the best dill pickled cucumber!

Notwithstanding my natural bias towards Polish culinary delights, coupled with an ongoing disdain for Macca's, I maintain that these are way better than McDonald's pickles of the likes you would find on a cheeseburger. Plus, you can make them at home cheaply without being a part of a food system that is destroying the planet! Winning all round.

This year I grew my own cucumbers which was rather satisfying; I used a variety known as Parisian Pickling Cucumber which made me feel a little bit French, thereby making the recipe even better! This variety bears quite heavily in a small space so is great for home gardens.

Cutting to the chase, here's how to make a traditional Polski Ogorki (aka better than Macca's pickle):

(Recipe makes 4 litres)
Ingredients
  • 4 x 1L canning jars or equivalent volume in smaller jars
  • Boiling water
  • 1/4 cup of pickling salt (you could use rock salt but it should be ground to ensure you can measure out an accurate brine ratio)
  • 5 cups of cold water
  • 1 cup of white vinegar
  • Enough cucumbers to fill your jars as full as you can
  • Garlic cloves (1 per jar)
  • Dill weed and seed (1/2 tspn of seeds and a couple of springs per jar)
  • A pickling spice; I make my own incorporating a good wholegrain mustard (1/2 tspn / jar)**
** Post edit regarding pickling spice: you can buy pre mixed pickling spice from wherever you get dried herbs & spices, but it's an expensive way to do it as the quantities are typically very small. I make my own with whatever I have on hand which typically includes mustard seeds, cinnamon sticks, black pepper corns, juniper berries, bay leaves, fennel seeds. If you are missing a few ingredients, a wholegrain mustard will give a bit of a flavour boost.

Method
  • Wash and sterilise the jars (the best method I have found for sterilising is to place all jars upside down on an oven grill with separated lids, and set the oven to just over 100 deg C, so that the jars all come to heat slowly as the oven heats. Leave them on 100 deg C for a few minutes and they will all then be sterilised)
  • Meanwhile put the kettle on to boil and at the same time in a saucepan add the vinegar, cold water and pickling salt and bring to the boil, simmering until salt is dissolved
  • Wash cucumbers and place in iced water to chill until firm and crisp
  • Once crisp, place in a colander and pour boiling water over the cucumbers to sterilise
  • In each jar add the garlic, dill and spices, then pack in the cucumbers as tightly as possible. Traditionally Polski Ogorki are whole cucumbers, but you can if need be trim them to fit the jars better - just ensure that each piece is a similar size so that they pickle evenly.
  • Take the boiling brine mix and pour into the jars to cover the cucumbers, filling to a little below the rim of the jar. Seal the jar lids tightly.
  • Place all jars in canning pot or large saucepan and fill with hot water, then bring to the boil, simmering for 10 minutes.
  • Once cooked for 10 minutes, remove jars and allow to cool, checking all lids are tightly sealed.
  • Leave jars in a cool dark place for 8 - 10 weeks before opening. 


19 comments:

  1. I'm from Poland :-) Very good recipe for Polski Ogórki :-)

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  2. have to be pedantic . . . and say that its said - POLSKIE Ogorki. Not that it makes a jot of difference, to the taste off course!!! am studying your recipe to see if its the same as my mums!

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    Replies
    1. have to add - yes very good recipe!

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    2. It can be spelt either way. Sans E is the polish spelling, I believe. I could be wrong though, it's happened before ;)

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    3. we usually grow our own ogorki in the garden, but this year I dont know what happened, we got the seeds, planted them...all well and then............they grew round and went yellow!!! yuk! so that was the end of our ogorki for this year whereaas we have grown them successfully before!! we buy the picking cucumber seeds and all went wrong this yr for some reason! So when yours are ready, feel free to ship me some over to the west!!! I LOVE the taste of home made ogorki!

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  3. Would love to make these but what is a "pickling spice mix". Do you use a particular one? What should I use?

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    Replies
    1. You can buy pre mixed pickling spice from wherever you get dried herbs & spices, but it's an expensive way to do it as the quantities are typically very small. I make my own with whatever I have on hand which typically includes mustard seeds, cinnamon sticks, black pepper corns, juniper berries, bay leaves, fennel seeds. If you are missing a few ingredients, a wholegrain mustard will give a bit of a flavour boost.

      Delete
    2. Thank you very much, that's wonderfully helpful.

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  4. My love for Ogorki is boundless. Thanks for sharing this recipe Dave- Gourmet Traveler published one a while back for fermented ogorki but I cannot find it anywhere. Yours will be featured here at my house SOON x

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  5. Hey Nicole,

    How good are they?! I eat them straight from the jar. My dad recently made some fermented polski ogórki - i'll have to get the recipe. The worst thing about these is having to wait 8 weeks before you can eat them!

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    Replies
    1. My mother used to make them. I wish I had her reciepe'.

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  6. For pickling spice, use one teaspoon of EZY-SAUCE

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  7. Hey, are they bay leaves in the jars too as part of the recipe? Looks sooo good. Cant wait to make these.

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  8. Your traditional polish pickling spice in what quantities does that go per the recipe above and then how much in each 1litre jar? Also are they dried spices and herbs or fresh or a mixture? And will taste turn out same as those dill cucumbers you buy Jarred in polish section aka brands like Dawtona?
    And what's best seeds to buy to grow dills is there such a thing as dill cucumbers that grow to right size?

    ReplyDelete
  9. Your traditional polish pickling spice in what quantities does that go per the recipe above and then how much in each 1litre jar? Also are they dried spices and herbs or fresh or a mixture? And will taste turn out same as those dill cucumbers you buy Jarred in polish section aka brands like Dawtona?
    And what's best seeds to buy to grow dills is there such a thing as dill cucumbers that grow to right size?

    ReplyDelete
  10. Your traditional polish pickling spice in what quantities does that go per the recipe above and then how much in each 1litre jar? Also are they dried spices and herbs or fresh or a mixture? And will taste turn out same as those dill cucumbers you buy Jarred in polish section aka brands like Dawtona?
    And what's best seeds to buy to grow dills is there such a thing as dill cucumbers that grow to right size?

    ReplyDelete

Thanks so much for your words of encouragement, advice and solidarity.

xo em