Brine Pickled Cucumbers (Gherkins)

Pickles. So easy to make, yet so rarely made at home these days. You can get them in every form almost everywhere, in brine, vinegar, sweet, spicy or in any way you can dream on.

But nothing compares to the feeling of making your own pickles. The anticipation, waiting seven long days, staring at you from the jar, slowly transforming from garden-fresh green to the familiar turtle-green to full pickle color.

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And when you finally find the right moment to open the jar, the bursting smell, the cracking sound of biting the first one coming out of the jar, and the crave to have just one more before you close it, even though you already had five.

There are tons of ways to do pickles. And even though I lived in the Spreewald region, the capital of German gherkins pickled in vinegar, I’m actually into something completely different. The oh-so Israeli pickles – taking the traditional Polish dill-pickles in brine, and giving it a Mediterranean spicy kick.

The recipe is quite easy, but the devil is in the details. Two things are important: a hermetically sealed jar, sterilized in boiling water; and to pick the right cucumbers. I go for the middle eastern, small and thin ones. They have to be small, and they have to be fresh and hard. Otherwise they’ll get soft in the jar, and that’s really not fun in your mouth.

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So you got a jar and enough cucumbers to fill it. You’ll also need a nice bouquet of dill, 1 clove of garlic for every 3-4 cucumbers, 1 table spoon of peppercorns and some fresh chili to taste. I also add 2-3 cardamon pods, slightly cracked.

Put half of the dill at the bottom, will with cucumbers, as dense as it goes. Halve the garlic cloves and chili and stick it in between them. Spread the cardamon and peppercorns on top, cover with the rest of the dill.

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Then, make the brine: for every 200 ml of water mix 1 full teaspoon of sea salt. Please, use salt without any added fluoride. Mix well, until all the salt is melted. For every 800 ml of brine add 1 table spoon of vinegar, that will function as a preservative.

Fill the jar with the brine until the very top, keep everything covered, otherwise you risk mold. Close the jar tight, leave on a sunny part of your kitchen, and wait. The hotter it is, the faster the pickle process goes. It will be ready in 5-8 days. If you are not sure whether it’s time, better give it one more day.

When you open it, only use a clean fork to extract pickles, and never ever your fingers. Keep refrigerated after opening if it’s over 20 degrees outside.

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