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The Warsaw Voice » Special Sections » July 4, 2014
Regional and Traditional Products
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Kociewie Pickles
July 4, 2014   
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Pickled gherkins known as pikle kociewskie—Kociewie pickles—are a popular side dish in Poland’s northern Pomerania area that is delicious with both hot and cold meals.

Pickles from Kociewie, a region of Pomerania, are made from cucumbers, though many recipes mention other products that can be pickled the same way: shallots, green tomatoes, nasturtium, peas and mushrooms. Kociewie pickles are made from a special cucumber variety from the ¦rem area in central Poland, very prolific but infrequently grown. The fruit of this cucumber variety is shapely, cylindrical, with a small seed sack. The skin is green with streaks running halfway along the fruit’s length and numerous thick papillae.

According to a prewar recipe from the book Kucharka litewska (The Lithuanian Cook), to make tasty pickles you have to “wipe the little new cucumbers with a dry cloth, salt them for 24 hours, then wipe dry again. Take some powerful vinegar, boil it with peppercorns, all spice, bay leaves and a pinch of saltpeter, and once it cools, pour over the cucumbers, packed into a very dry jar. The next day pour out the vinegar, boil it again and pour over the cucumbers once it cools; repeat on the third day. Four weeks later take some fresh powerful vinegar, boil with the same spices, and once it has cooled completely, pour over the cucumbers, but first wipe them properly dry, and the jar as well, and then repeat for the next two days but without the wiping. If mold should appear in winter, remove the vinegar at once and pour over fresh vinegar, boiled first with the spices as usual, for three consecutive days, always wiping the cucumbers and the jar dry on the first day.”

A modern-day recipe recommends the following ingredients for the pickling mixture: 4 cups of water, 1 cup of vinegar, 1 tablespoon of vegetable oil, 1 tablespoon of salt, half a cup of sugar, a bay leaf, some mustard seed, all spice, peppercorns and additions such as carrot, dill, bell pepper. Mushrooms and vegetables can be added to the pickles.

Cucumber preserves, like those made from cabbage, are popular across Poland. Traditionally, the most popular preserve made in large amounts is cucumbers pickled in brine.

A dish that is popular in many regions – including Kociewie, is called mizeria (thinly sliced cucumbers served with cream diluted with water and vinegar). Mizeria is a popular traditional side dish in summer, particularly to accompany new potatoes.

Pickles containing gherkins and other vegetables were traditionally made from August as a dish that would last throughout the winter months, all the way to the following May. Gherkins were stored in oak barrels or stoneware pots. Apart from pickling in brine, gherkins were pickled in a sweet and sour mixture with many spices. Pickles from Kociewie are a special type of these pickles, made by local cooks from traditional recipes used by their mothers and grandmothers.
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