I love to travel. I used to do it for a living; travelling, eating and writing about it. One of my favorite destinations has always been the USA; my distant cousins across the pond. Some people say they don’t like the US, but that’s because they’ve never been there or, if they have, they’ve been to the wrong places. It’s just not possible not to like the US.
The two highlights of all my journeys there has always been the martini and the hamburger (who says I’m complicated), two of the US’s most civilized gifts to global culinary history. I can’t leave the states without having at least one martini (preferably shortly after landing) and at least one hamburger (usually immediately following the martini).
The martini, ice cold and delicately perfumed is done so well Stateside. The hamburger, juicy sweet and fat are never better than the ones across the pond. But what really makes the latter is the briny crunch of a classic American dill pickle (the briny squelch of a green olive, conversely, is what ruins a martini. You must never ask for an olive).
At home, the whole family loves hamburgers. I mince my own chuck steak, add a little smoked pancetta and a dash of Worcestershire sauce. Then I grill them, black on the outside, red in the middle, and serve with lettuce, tomatoes and red onion on soft white rolls. The kids go wild for them.
As a finishing touch I usually throw in a crunchy pickle. In Sweden we have something called salted cucumbers (saltgurka), which is close the US version, but no cigar. Seeing as we are in the very heart of hamburger season, I decided the only sensible solution would be to make my own dill pickles.
Pickling a cucumber is actually a very simple process. It takes a little time, but most of that is time when you do no more than wait. I started mine Yesterday morning, and they were in-jar by this afternoon.
As to how they taste: I have no idea. They need to sit in a dark, cool and dry place (like Utah in the winter) for a month. A good martini should be consumed quickly, while still ice-cold. A good dill pickle, you can’t rush.
Dill Pickled Cucumber
- 10-12 pickling cucumbers (dry, stubby little things)
- ½ dl salt
- 1 liter water
- 1 liter water
- 2 dl white pickling vinegar
- 1 dl salt without iodine (added iodine can make the pickles bitter)
- 2 tsp sugar
- A bunch of rough chopped fresh dill stalks
- 3 tsp white mustard seeds
Mix the water with the ½ dl salt till the salt dissolves. Pout the mix over the cucumbers in a deep bowl, covering them completely. Leave for 24 hours (this helps to give the cucumbers an extra crunch)
Next day, heat your oven to 120C and put a large pickling jar in it to sterilize. Remove after 10 minutes.
Put 1 liter of water in a saucepan, add the vinegar, sugar and salt and bring to the boil, whisking to dissolve sugar and salt. Leave to one side.
Rinse the cucumbers from the salt water and put them into the pickle jar.
Add the mustard seeds and dill stalks as you go.
Top up with the pickling mixture, ensuring that the cucumbers are completely covered.
Leave in a cool, dry place for one month. Once opened refrigerate the pickles and eat up with in about three months.