Pickled Cucumbers

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It was Mr G’s love of both gherkins (baby cucumbers) and pickled onions, served as an afternoon snack on crackers with vintage cheddar that introduced me to enjoying these pickled delicacies. The pickle had been the very thing I would extract and discard from my burger, but now I enjoy them and delight in pickling and bottling my own.

makes 6 x 500ml preserving jars

what you need
1.2 kg small cucumbers/gherkins
1 tbsp olive oil
1 red capsicum
3 cups (750ml) apple cider vinegar
3 cups (750ml) filtered water
1 cup (180g) rapadura sugar
1/3 cup (75g) sea salt or pickling salt
¼ cup (60ml) honey
1 tsp dill seeds
1 tsp yellow mustard seeds
1 tsp brown mustard seeds
1 tsp white peppercorns
6 bay leaves
2 garlic cloves, finely sliced
6 sprigs of dill

what you do
1. Place the cucumbers in a shallow tray and cover with ice cubes. Let them sit in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours, but no more than 6 hours. (This will add some crunch to your end product.)
2. Preheat the oven to 180°C (160°C fan forced). Rub a sheet of foil with the olive oil and wrap the whole capsicum in the foil. Place on a rack in the oven to roast for 30 minutes.
3. In a large pot place the vinegar, filtered water, sugar, salt and honey. Bring to the boil and then simmer for 5 minutes until all the sugar and salt has dissolved.
4. Drain the cucumbers, pat dry and finely trim ends. Remove the capsicum from the oven and set aside to cool down.
5. Preheat the oven to 160°C (140°C fan forced). To sterilise the jars, wash well and place onto an oven tray. Put into the oven for 15 minutes, to dry and heat.
6. Remove the capsicum from the foil, peel off the skin and dispose of the seeds. Slice into thin strips.
7. Remove the jars from the oven. Pack the cucumbers into the warm sterilised jars and place an even amount of mustard seeds, peppercorns, dill seeds, a bay leaf, a few slices of garlic, a few slices of capsicum and a sprig of dill into each jar.
8. Pour the hot pickling liquid into the jars, leaving a 2cm gap between top of the liquid and the lid. Wipe the jars with a clean, moist paper towel to remove any spillage, and seal with a lid.
9. You can refrigerate at this point and consume the pickled cucumbers for up to 1 month.

To preserve for a longer period of time, you will require preserving jars with proper two-piece vacuum caps (consisting of a lid and a band). The jars should then be processed in a hot water bath. Place the jars into a large pot filled with simmering water, covering the jars with 2cm of water. Place a lid on the pot and bring the water to a rolling boil, where it should be held for the entire processing time of 10 minutes. Turn off the heat and remove lid. Let sit for 5 minutes then carefully remove the jars (using a jar lifter for safety). Cool for 12 hours.

Note: Test the lids to determine if the jars are vacuum-sealed. Press the centre of the lid to determine if it is concave. Remove the band. Gently try to remove the lid with your fingertips. If the lid is concave and cannot be removed with your fingertips, the jar is vacuum-sealed.
For information on rapadura sugar see page 50.
A gherkin or cornichon is a small cucumber used for pickling, resulting in pickled cucumbers, also known as pickled gherkins.

Storage: For vacuum-sealed jars, store in a cool, dark place for at least 2 - 4 weeks before opening, allowing for the flavour to develop. Unopened jars will keep for up to 12 months in the pantry. Once jars are opened or if the jars have not sealed effectively store in the fridge for up to 1 month.

©Jane Grover  
Recipe from Our Delicious Adventure – Recipes and Stories of Food and Travel

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