Gherkins (pickled cucumbers)
The best way to enjoy them is by making them yourself. But can never make enough to keep me until the next season of pickling cucumbers comes around in the summer.
When the home-made suppy runs out, I resort to shop bought ones, but I am picky, and the standard Norwegian way of consuming this treat is usually overly sweet and has a limp texture.
I prefer these pickles slightly salty, and only slightly sweet, and I also like it if they have been partially fermented before being pickled.
How to buy pickled cucumbers in Norway?
The best place to start looking for gherkins is at international grocery shops. These often stock food from a range of contries and regions, and often have broader range of products from one region.
I always go to the eastern European shelves as they seem to have figured out the pickle gambit.
Ogórki konserwowe means pickles in Polish – ogórki sounds similar to the Norwegian word for cucumber, agurk and the English gherkin. konserwowe has a root similar to the Norwegian word for preserve, konservere.
Good to know when looking for pickles.
There are so many different ones to choose from, and different shops will have slightly different selectons.
I will start making a quick review of every new glass of gherkins so I have something to double check next time I’m buying one.
A good place to place your potential pickles on the sweetness scale is by checking the nutritional values table. Specifically the carbohydrates.
Norwegian pickles normally have in the range of 15g and 25g per 100g of product.
In contrast, the least sweet Polish ogórki only have 1 or 2 grams.
I like mine somewhere in between, and I’ve found that I prefer the pickles from around 5 to about 8 grams of carbohydrates per 100g.
There are plenty of products in this sweetness range.
What am I looking for in a gherkin?
- A little bit sweetness
- Some saltiness
- Fermented flavour
- Some acidity, usually from vinegar
- Firm, crisp texture
The colour usually won’t tell you much about the flavour. Some of the best I’ve tried have been quite grey-ish.
The first step of fermentation happens when the cucumbers are brined for a day or two in room temperature.
Many recipes and commercial products take this approach, followed by a normal pickling process of adding the short-fermented cucumber to a pickling brine of water, sugar and vinegar.
The pickles are then left for a few more days before the brine is heated to boiling point, cooled down and poured back in. Effectively stopping the fermentation process by killing the remaining bacteria. This way, the gherkins retain their fresh flavour for a long time.
Some products are also fully fermented with just salt and water.