September 05, 2014

With summer fast coming to a close, preserving and pickling is the order of the day! Having got my hands on some lovely fresh cucumbers, courtesy of a friend's father's garden I wanted to get in a bit of a pickle. 

Pickle in the UK is mostly thought of along the lines of thick, dark Branston style pickle, or the bright yellow piccalilli. Here, pickle most definitely refers to dill pickles, sliced into discs or battens, preserved in seasoned, sweetened vinegar and water mixture they can usually be found topping a burger or diced up into relish. 

Pickles are a lovely way to get a little fresh zing of summer as the weather cools down,  this recipe is the quick simple version that doesn't involve any heating so they should be kept in the fridge but will be good for a couple of months as long as you sterilize the jars first.

Makes 3 pint jars of pickles

1lb cucumber
1 1/2 pints white wine vinegar
1/2 pint distilled water
3 cloves of garlic
9 teaspoons white sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons mustard seeds
3 teaspoons dill seeds
3/4 teaspoon celery salt
1 1/2 teaspoons peppercorns
A big handful of fresh dill


The easiest way to sterilize your jars is to put them through the dishwasher. If like me, however, you are dish washer-less then pour boiling water right to the brim of the jars and over the lids. After two minutes, pour out the water form the jars and remove the lids, being careful not to touch the insides, use tongs for the lids if they are super hot. Place the jars on their sides and the lids right side up so that they can steam dry without any dust or stray lint falling in them, drape paper towel over them if this is a possibility!

I've chosen to make pickle discs for this classic recipe but have also experimented with a spicy batten variety which i'll post shortly. Cut the cucumbers into which ever shape you fancy, discs are better to go 'in' stuff, battens are better to go 'with' stuff. Make you discs about 1/8 ich/ 1/2 cm thick.

Take your dried jars, again being sure not to touch the inside of the jars or lids as it with negate the sterilizing! Into each jar place:

1 sliced clove garlic
3 teaspoons white sugar
1/2 teaspoon mustard seeds
1 teaspoon dill seeds
1/4 teaspoon celery salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper corns
A spring of fresh dill

Pile in the cucumber slices and divid equally between the jars. In a separate jug, mix the vinegar and water- the ratio in this recipe can be altered to taste, if you prefer a stronger 'pickle' flavour go for more vinegar to water. For a more mellow flavor increase the water but don't go below a 1:1 ratio as the vinegar is needed to cure and preserve the cucumber and allow the pickle to 'keep' for a few months.

Seal up the jars and place in the fridge, they will be ready to eat in about a week!

I've used these as a side or as part of a lunch time spread. I've also made fried frickles which may be one of the tastiest things i've ever had- recipe up soon! Next on the docket is home made relish...

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