When I first started my vegetable garden back in May I planted some cucumber seeds. For several months nothing happened. And then they started to grow, and grow, producing an endless supply of cucumbers which I’ve mainly been eating in salads. Unlike many vegetables, cucumbers really can’t be frozen so I’ve gone down the pickling route to deal with the surplus. I’m hoping that after a few months these will taste great with cheese or a burger…
3kg cucumbers, a short variety with thicker skin is best
500ml white wine vinegar
300 ml water
A bulb of garlic
A couple of red onions
A large white onion
3tbsp pink peppercorns
3tbsp brown sugar
2tbsp mustard seeds
Start by washing the cucumbers, removing any prickles – depending on the variety you are using – and cut into your preferred shape. I went for fingers as they pack easily into the jars but you could also chop into thick or thin slices. Chop the onions and peel the garlic cloves.
Put the vinegar and water in a pan with the sugar and bring to a gentle simmer until the sugar dissolves. The minimum ratio of water to vinegar should be 1:1 but I went for a slightly stronger vinegar solution to increase the chances of the pickling process being successful and to maximise the flavour. Take the pan off the heat. Add the salt and spices to the liquid and leave to steep for 30 minutes or so.
Whilst the pickling liquid is steeping away quietly you can prepare your jars. Wash them first in hot soapy water, rinse well and place on a tray in a hot oven for 10 minutes. The lids should be washed and boiled in a pan for the same amount of time.
Take the jars out of the oven and allow them to cool a little before packing them with your cucumbers, chopped onion, peeled garlic cloves and bay leaves. There is no rule as how this should be done, the aim is to distribute the flavours evenly and make the jars look pretty! Then pour the pickling liquid into the jars making sure that there are no air bubbles. You can do this by tapping the slides and bottom of the each jar.
Leave the jars to cool completely, add labels and put them in a cool dark place for a few months so that the pickling process can take place. The pickled cucumbers should last for a year but I suspect I will have eaten mine long before then!