How to Pickle Cucumbers

About 16 days ago I attended a class on pickling organised by Westfield Hurstville and run by the Sutherland Shire Cooking School.  We pickled some baby cucumbers (cukes). These were put into a pickle brine for about two weeks.

I took them out today and they had changed colour and were vinegary and crispy. They were also a bit too salty for my taste. Inspired by the recipe we used that day, I include a recipe for Pickled Cucumbers in this post.

Place pickling ingredients in a sterilised jar

Add baby cucumbers (cukes)

Add salt, water, vinegar and cover

After 2 weeks, they are ready!

Pickled Cucumber Recipe:

Place a few sprigs of dill and a crushed dried bay leaf into a sterilised 550ml jar (with lid).  Add 6 whole baby cukes (cut off the ends first). Add a few slices of mild pepper and 2 smashed garlic cloves. Some celery tops and chopped shallots are nice too.

Then add about 500ml water – up to about 5cm from the top of the jar. Add 1 level teaspoon rock salt (or 3/4 tsp cooking salt without iodine). Cover and shake the jar well.

Open the jar and add enough white wine vinegar or distilled vinegar to cover the cukes. Seal the jar with lid and keep in a cool place for about 2 weeks. Taste to see if they are ready, store in fridge after opening.

Photos & Text Sophia Poulos.

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The Preserved Olive

Our tree only seems to produce olives every second year, which is not unusual. So we make the most of this years 3.3kg (7.3 lbs) harvest.  The olives picked vary in colour from green to mottled green and purple through to deep luscious blue-black.  The flesh is a little tender, showing that it is just the right time to preserve.  The olives should not be left on the tree too long as they may become overripe, which is not ideal for preserving.

The recipe for preserving is really simple (see link here to my previous post).  It is important to separate the olives into a least two groups as the lighter coloured green or mostly green will need more time for soaking – up to 5 days, the darker fruit needs only 2-3 days.  To get an idea if they are ready to go the brining stage, taste a bit from the raw olive.  If it seems really bitter, then change the water and soak for another day or so.

The brine solution is made up of about 6 tablespoons (about 6 heaped UK & US tablespoon measures) of fine sea salt to 1 litre of water (about 2 pints).  Use the “egg test” to see if the brine is sufficiently strong.  To do this float a raw egg in the brine.  The egg should be raised out of the liquid showing a circle about 3cm in diameter (about 1 inch).

Put the drained olives in large jars, add also some dried herbs if you like, such as bay leaves.  Add brine mixture to cover olives.  Then top the mixture with a grape leaf (previously blanched or already preserved) and top with a bit more brine to cover this also.  The olive leaf ensures that the olives are submerged in the liquid while they are curing.

Cover the jar with a tight fitting lid and place in a dark cupboard for a number of weeks, probably at least 8 weeks.  Taste them and if they seem to be ready, top the jar with a layer of olive oil. They can successfully be kept in a dark, dry place for months.  To serve, remove the olives you need from the jar (seal jar and replace back to storage), rinse the olives briefly and then dress with olive oil, vinegar and herbs (if liked) and store in the fridge.

 

How to Preserve Olives

Why preserve olives when you can just go to the local grocer?  Well it is so easy to do, and the satisfaction is tremendous. Not to mention the cost savings.  Olives are in season now, and we are very fortunate in Sydney to be able to source nice local grown olives, both green and black.  So how to proceed?  The recipe below uses a brine to preserve the olives.

Ingredients

  • Fresh green olives
  • Water
  • Rock salt (sea salt)
  • Grape vine leaves or silicone paper
  • Herbs, for example bay leaves or rosemary, optional
  • Lemon slices or rind, optional

Method

  1. Score each olive with a small serrated knife in 2-3 places. Place olives in a bowl and cover with water. Place a plate on top so that the olives are submerged.
  2. The next day, drain the water from the olives and replace with fresh water and cover again. Repeat for two days more.
  3. The next day, drain the water from the olives and measure it. This will give you an idea of the amount of brine required.
  4. Make a 10% brine solution. Take the same measured amount of fresh water and place in a saucepan. Add 1/3 cup (100g) of rock salt for each 4 cups (1 litre) of water. Heat the brine, and stir until the salt is dissolved. Leave to cool until cold.
  5. Add the olives to a jar (ideally glass). Do not overfill the jar. Add some herbs and lemon slices, if desired. Pour brine over olives and herbs to cover. Place a washed grape vine leaf or square of silicone paper over the olives. Ensure that the olives and grape leaves are submerged in the brine.
  6. Place in a cool dark place to mature for at least 8 weeks. It may take as longer, depending on the size of the olives.
  7. Remove grape leaf and cover with a thick layer of oil to preserve the olives.
  8. When ready to eat, remove a portion of olives from the jar, rinse olives and season with oil and vinegar.  Refrigerate.