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.
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)
- 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.
- 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.