And Germans are really into pickles too - maybe because it goes so well with beer and bread? There's usually a whole aisle of pickle varieties at the grocery store, and certain regions of Germany pride themselves on their pickle production. The Spreewald, a marshy canal area south of Berlin that was settled by the Slavic tribe of the Sorbs (who to this day still have a separate ethnic, linguistic, and cultural identity from other Germans) is particularly known for it's pickles. The Sorbs have been making pickles in the Spreewald since the 1600s, and the specific ingredients in Spreewald pickles still remain a well-guarded secret of the approximately twenty picklers in the region.
When I'm not buying Spreewald pickles at the grocery store, I like to make these quick refrigerator pickles (mostly because they are addictive). And because I have a weird obsession with DIY skills that could arguably be categorized as "survival" or "sustainable-back-to-the-earth" skills (I know, how hipster unoriginal of me - although I like to think it's more just the true Alaskan coming out in me. You know, having been brought up in the type of culture where these skills are valued, I need to just let it all out and realize my full potential). Ok, that's probably a load of B.S., but it makes me feel special. And actually, these pickles would fall a little short of what a true back-country lifestyle would demand, because at most they last a month or two in the fridge- not long enough for people who need to make their supply last the whole winter through! Doh. I'll have to find another pickle recipe and work on my canning skills.
Until then, this is my trusty refrigerator pickle recipe that I've been making for years, and love. And you don't even need to know how to can, or any of the deep-dark secrets of the Sorbs.
Quick Refrigerator Pickles
I make these pickles as round, sandwich pickles. You could probably make them as long spears as well, but it might take a few extra days in the fridge before they're pickled through. I like to use cider vinegar in this recipe, but regular white vinegar also works well.
1 large cucumber, thinly sliced in rounds
1 onion, thinly sliced
1 1/2 cups (375 ml) cider vinegar
3/4 cup (150 g) white sugar
3/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp mustard seeds
1/2 tsp celery seeds
1/2 tsp ground turmeric
1/2 tsp crushed red pepper
1/4 tsp fresh ground pepper
4 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
1. Put sliced cucumber and onion in a large jar.
2. Combine vinegar and remaining ingredients in a small saucepan on the stove. Bring to a boil and cook one minute.
3. Pour vinegar/spice mixture over the cucumbers and onions and let cool.
4. Put the lid on the jar and refrigerate for at least 4 days before serving.