This is the simplest of simple pickles. So simple, it doesn’t really require its own blog post. But hell, it’s such a great go-to recipe that I thought I’d give it one any way. Interestingly, I didn’t think there was that much about this pickle, (because a pickle’s a pickle’s a pickle, right?) but both my flatmates asked me to make it time and time again, so there’s clearly something in it.
Pickling and ‘canning’ is big in America. Just google ‘Canning’ and ‘America’ to see the cult-like dedication that there is to this method of food preservation. I particularly like Food In Jars, and Canning Across America - which calls people to ‘Join the Canvolution!’ Broadly speaking, food trends tend to start in America before sweeping across the Atlantic a few years later, so I predict that we’re going to see a lot more pickling over the next few years. And I’m excited!
I don’t want a pickle, just a ride on my motersickle
Lots of shop bought pickles are chutney-hybrids. I often find them too-sweet, and by packing in lots of fruits and vegetables and spices, they can distract attention from the main event which, in a pickle-scenario, is often ham or fish or brisket – which should certainly have the lime light.
The vinegar and salt mixture softens the red onion, and the pickling makes it less potent than a raw red onion. The result is clean, sharp flavours. Perfect for burgers, salt beef sandwiches or – as we are having tonight – smoked salmon, rye bread, sour cream and pickle.
350ml white wine vinegar
115g (granulated) sugar
1 large, red onion
2 small, sweet cucumbers (I was lucky today, because the Bethnal Green vegetable stand happened to have a boxful of these beauties. Failing small, sweet cucumbers – one big, normal supermarket cucumber will do.)
1 teaspoon of salt
1. Pour the white wine vinegar into a pan, add the sugar and heat gently, until the sugar dissolves. Leave to cool.
2. Cut the cucumber(s) in half, and use a teaspoon to scoop out the wet, seedy centre. In an ideal world I’d use a mandolin to cut perfectly thin, even slices. But we do not live in an ideal world, so I used a cheese grater – or a trusty old knife will do. However you get there, the aim is for thin, even, moon-shaped slices of cucumber.
3. Cut the onion in half. Put it flat-side down on a board, and cut it into thin slivers.
4. Mix together the cucumber and onion with the salt. Put them in a big jar, and pour over the cooled vinegar-sugar liquid.
5. Leave for a couple of days to pickle, and serve.