JOANNA'S FOOD: family cooking, from scratch, every day

Monday, April 27, 2009

Cucumber and dill pickle

Last autumn, I bought The Wonderful Weekend Book by Elspeth Thompson - I am not damning it with feint praise when I say that it is charming, also much the best of the recent deluge of books on home-making for the nostalgic.

Elspeth gives a really wonderful recipe for cucumber and dill pickle, and I made a huge vat with the last of the cucumbers. I've been eking it out carefully, as it is so delicious. But now the first cucumbers have arrived in my vegetable box, so I can polish off the few remaining slices and make some more.

I didn't post this when I made it, because there were no more cucumbers (I don't really think it would be a good idea to make this with watery winter indoor fruits). It can also be made with courgette, although I haven't yet tried that.

Courgette and dill pickle
for four 450g jars

It always seems to me a miracle that something submerged in liquid can retain its crunch, but this does. And the flavours are great from day one, none of that leaving it to mature until Christmas that you have to do with chutney. I've found this is terrific with my usual lunch of leftovers, almost as good as chilli jam.

3 large cucumbers (or 6 courgettes)
2 large onions
50g coarse salt
450g soft brown sugar
600ml cider vinegar
1 tbsp whole mustard seeds
a large handful of fresh dill

Thinly slice the cucumbers and onions, and this is easiest on a mandoline. Layer with salt in a large plastic box, and weight down with a plate and some tins. Leave it four at least four hours, then drain and rinse in a big colander. You want to get all the salt out.

Dissolve the sugar in the vinegar, then add the veg, seeds and dill. Bring to the boil. After one minute, drain, reserving the liquid. Boil to a syrup (which will mean boiling off around one third). Meanwhile, put the vegetables in sterilised jars. Cover with juices, and seal. Keep in the fridge once you've re-opened the jar.

Other good preserves

Spiced apricot preserve
this one is BRILLIANT for an instant gravy to go with roast pork
Roasted tomato ketchup very good for cooking
Home-made vanilla extract easy, and satisfies my need for the semblance of thrift
Rose petal jelly it will soon be time to make this, the buds are swelling - and it's pouring with rain at the moment, which can only be good for the roses

PS Elspeth has a new book about to come out ... she says on her blog today that it's already in some shops, so I'm hoping the postman will deliver my copy today


Magic Cochin said...

This sounds delicious - and I've noted the 'or courgettes' option too.

I first discovered cucumbers pickled with spices and dill on an exchange trip to Czechoslovakia (in grey austere soviet days). The only produce available that week were cucumbers - sold from barrows in the street. Long queues formed and everyone was making pickles to last them until the next delivery of whatever.

Best wishes

Toffeeapple said...

I haven't eaten Dill Pickles in years, thank you for the reminder. Did you use dried dill, dill seeds or fresh dill?

Joanna said...

Thanks for kind words, Toffeeapple. Fresh dill - best to chop it a bit, though, otherwise it's a bit bleugh ... these are worth making, they're nicer than any I've bought

Love that story of life behind the Iron Curtain, Celia ... good to be reminded of how lucky we are here


pickleandpreserve said...

Our cucumber plants are only small seedlings at the moment, but in the past (in a good summer) we've struggled to find a nice way to preserve them.
I'll definitely try this come the summer.
Might have to plant some dill as well now...

Trish said...

Yes...I make these 'bread and butter' pickles often and their being smothered in a crisp vinegreitte is wonderful to add to a meal.

Joanna said...

PandP - I'll be interested to read your take on this later in the season. And I think I'm going to grow some cucumbers this year for the first time ...

Trish - you're so right about that vinaigrette ... this one's slightly sweet and sour, mmmm

Amanda at Little Foodies said...

Thank you for mentioning Elspeth's new book. I'd not seen her blog either. What a beautiful way to live.

katiez said...

I love this! I love pickles and good ones are hard to find in the stores...

Anonymous said...

Dear Joanna
Thanks so much for the mention!
Glad you like the pickle recipe - it really is great, isn't it? Am planting loads of courgette plants - not so much for use as a vegetable, but for making vat upon bat of pickle! It is just as nice made with courgettes although somehow the cucumber version sounds more appealing. Hope your Homeade book appears soon.
Thanks and all good wishes,
x Elspeth