More than 1,000 years ago the Vikings were preserving fish (pre-refrigeration) with some combination of salt and vinegar. Modern-day Danes continue to do the same. Today, Pickling is still considered a cornerstone of traditional Danish food. From fish to cucumbers, people in Denmark pickle just about anything.
While visiting Copenhagen with my family we enjoyed the vast array of pickled items which typically accompanied both breakfast and lunch meals. Pickled herring, smoked salmon, pickled vegetables, as well as sweet and salty pickles themselves, were abundant at all daytime offerings. Pickled items of all sorts were also commonly served on (or with) traditional Smørrebrød, the Danes well-known (and often elaborate) open faced sandwiches.
Other popular items were salted red beets, traditionally served with meat pâté, sweetly brined cucumbers, piled on top the classic Danish “pølse“ (hot dog) and pickled red cabbage which was commonly served with sausage but also considered a requirement at Christmas Eve dinner. Although we ate and loved it all, my family fell particularly hard for the classic Danish pickle. Slightly salty, slightly sweet and young enough to still contain the perfect crunch.
I developed this recipe based on those amazing Danish pickles we had in Copenhagen. This is a quick pickle method, (similar to my quick jams) so not too time consuming at all. Ready within 24 hours, these sweet(fish) pickles are best enjoyed within a week. Made with fresh farmstand cucumbers, these brined favorites will now be a staple in our household during the warm summer months.
Scandinavian Pickled Cucumbers
- 2 hothouse cucumbers, sliced
- For the Brine:
- 2 cups white vinegar
- 3/4 cups sugar
- 2 teaspoons salt
- 1 teaspoon yellow mustard seeds
- 1 teaspoon juniper berries
- handful of fresh dill
- Step 1 Place the cucumber in a large glass jar and set aside.
- Step 2 For the Brine: In a medium sauce pan add the vinegar, sugar, salt, mustard seeds and juniper berries, place over medium heat. Whisk until the sugar as completely dissolved. Remove from the heat and pour over the prepared cucumbers. Add the dill.
- Step 3 Allow the cucumbers to sit on the counter and cool. Once cool, seal and refrigerate overnight. The picked cucumbers will be ready the next day and will keep for about one week.