Pickles were always part of our meals at home. I can remember the faces of my bemused school friends as they were served spaghetti with tomato sauce with a gherkin on the side. I didn’t understand that some pickles were better than others until I was much older, But I did learn that dill was an important part of the pickles and they should be both sweet and salty but definitely not vinegary. My Swedish Pickles are based on the simplified version that my mother made when she was in a hurry, one with dill and one without.
Scandinavian food is all about simplicity, using good quality ingredients that flavour the dish. Raw food also features with spices to enhance the flavours: allspice, juniper, cardamom and fennel but with dill being the king of flavour. Its mild, warm aniseed flavour can be used in everything from fish to potato, pickles to eggs. Pickling used to be all about preserving, making the abundance of summer last through the long Nordic winter, but now it’s used for its flavour and crunchy texture, the sweet sour contrast in my Swedish Pickles are a wonderful accompaniment to chicken, red meat, fish or simply in a sandwich.
The secret to good pickles is a balance between sugar, salt and vinegar. I’ve specified the brands I’ve used in this recipe as each ingredient can vary depending on what brand you buy. Don’t be afraid of the salt, it’s very important in creating that balance. The vinegar shouldn’t catch in the back of your throat, nor should the pickles be overly sweet, you add salt and sugar until you can’t identify either individually, then the pickling liquid is perfectly balanced.
For my Swedish pickles I’ve kept the pickling liquid very simple and used the quick cold pickle method. You simply dissolve the sugar and salt in the liquid and you’re off. One batch is plain the other has that intrinsic scandi flavour, dill.
A few tips before you begin
Don’t use metallic containers when making pickles as the metal can taint the flavour. Use glass or ceramic.
Carrots, beetroot, cauliflower, broccoli, cabbage and cucumber are all ideal for pickling using this method. Use a mandolin to cut the beetroot and carrots.
Cucumber with a high water content only needs a very quick pickle, bear in mind that beetroot will loose some colour and or bleed into other vegetables if they are pickled together.
Makes 1 and 1/2 litres
- 200g sweet sprouting cauliflower
- 180g beetroot
- 450ml Aspall organic white wine vinegar
- 450ml water
- 140g sugar
- 41/2 tsp salt
- 7g fresh dill
- Separate out the cauliflower into individual stems and peel and cut the beetroot very thinly using a mandoline. Set aside separately.
- Mix together all the rest of the ingredients except the dill. Stir until all the sugar and salt has dissolved. Taste and adjust if necessary, remember it shouldn't catch in the back of your throat.
- Pick the dill fronds from the main stem and mix with the beetroot.
- Place the cauliflower into a 1 litre sterilised jar and the beetroot and dill into a sterilised 500ml jar.
- Pour the liquid over the veg to the top of the jar and seal.
- Leave for at least 1 hour before eating.
- It will keep in the fridge for 4-5 days
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