A visit to the fish and chip shop as a small child meant only one thing for me, the treat of a gherkin. I loved the big fat vinegary cucumber, that was crisp to the bite but soft and sweet inside. There was nothing subtle in the flavour of those traditional English pickles but I loved them none the less. Then I was invited to a Swedish market by some friends and discovered dill pickles. Oh, the sweetness of them mixed with the vinegar was so wonderful. The freshness of the dill and all the spices bouncing around in the jar were like magic flavours to me. I was hooked. Since then these are the only gherkins I buy, different from the slightly salty American pickles that I once mistakenly ordered in New York and very much more layered in flavour than the traditional chip shop offering. They make a perfect gift at Christmas, either on their own or as part of a cheese and biscuit basket or some smoked salmon. Easy to make with a little patience and they look so pretty.
Sweet Dill Pickled Cucumber
Makes 1 950 mls / 2lb jar
- 450mls white wine vinegar
- 350g granulated sugar
- Juice of 1 lemon
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 12 black peppercorns
- 2 pieces of mace
- 1 tablespoon fennel seeds
- 1 teaspoon mustard seeds
- Leaves pulled from 5 sprigs of dill
- 2 medium cucumbers plus about 1/2 cucumber to top up
- Put everything except the dill and cucumbers in a pan over a moderate heat and stir until the sugar has melted
- Bring to the boil and then remove from the heat and cool completely
- Thinly slice the 2 medium cucumbers and pack into two sterilised 500ml jars or one 950mls jar adding the dill fronds as you go
- Carefully pour in the vinegar and spiceskeeping the cucumber pushed down using a sterilised spoon.
- Seal and keep in a cool dark place overnight.
- The following day, top up the cucumber slices with the remaining 1/2 cucumber. (you may not need all of it)
- Seal and keep in a cool dark place for up to 6 weeks, refrigerate after opening
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