Summer in Poland

Like every year I spent part of my holidays with my family in Poland enjoying my mum’s cooking with fresh ingredients coming directly from the garden, playing with children and doing not that much.
August is a very busy month in Polish houses – this is when we start canning, pickling and preserving food for cold winters. Many people in Poland still mostly eat seasonal food so you won’t really see tomatoes or green salads on our tables in December. We make sure though we are ready for the cold months much in advance with our home storages full of marinates, jams, pickled vegetables or dried mushrooms.
Last year I recommended you to come to Poland in September to try our national specialty – ogórki kiszone (in the best translation I found – Polish style pickled cucumbers). They are a great source vitamin C and keep us going through the whole winter. The brine is apparently a miraculous handover cure and has a very good effect on the digestive system.
They are extremely easy to make so you may want to try yourself.

Ogórki kiszone my mum’s style

You will need:

Medium and small fresh cucumbers
Fresh garlic
Dill
Peppercorns
Water
Salt

Make sure that your cucumbers are freshly harvested as the fermentation process depends on the bacteria covering skin of growing cucumbers. Choose those which aren’t too large and have regular shape becasue they simply taste better. Those gigantic ones you buy in the supermarkets are definitely useless (and tasteless!) here. Traditionally ogórki are harvested around 5:00 am (we don’t suggest you go to such extremes though!) as the temperature that time makes them perfect for pickling.
To prepare the brine you will just need to dissolve 1.5 spoons of salt in 1 liter of cold water. The more salt you add the more sour the cucumbers will be.
Then place few cut garlic cloves, peppercorns and dill sprigs on the bottom of medium size jars and add washed cucumbers arranged tightly one next to one. Make sure they won’t move in the jar. Add enough water to cover everything and lid the jars.
Some people add horseradish roots or bay leaves as well – feel free to experiment with tastes you like most.
Cucumbers pickled for 3 days only are less sour and are called ogórki małosolne (‘slighty salty cucumbers’). You can store your jars even for few months in a dry cool place.
In some parts of Poland ogórki are stored in large barrels in a specially created storage placed in the rivers.

In winter they are perfect with sauces, salads or… shots of vodka.

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