Fresh Sugar-Free Cucumber Pickles (Vegan)
This accompaniment is just made for those hot and lazy summer days when you don’t feel like spending too much time in the kitchen and when you don’t want to have anything too hearty and heavy.
This crunchy cucumber side dish is a fresh combination of sweet and savory, with a notable touch of nourishing raw apple cider vinegar. Cucumber’s old companion, dill, completes the relationship between this two-man team. H’m, veggie team.
You can prepare this salad beforehand, but as it’s fresh pickles, you don’t need to wait for days or weeks before enjoying — this tangy tidbit is ready within two hours.
Fresh Sugar-Free Cucumber Pickles (Vegan)
1 pound = 450 g fresh organic cucumbers
1/4 cup = 60 ml finely chopped fresh organic dill
2 tablespoons raw organic apple cider vinegar
1/2 teaspoon unrefined sea salt
5 drops liquid stevia
- Peel the cucumbers and slice them as thin as you can.
- Place the cucumbers and dill in a large bowl which you can close tightly.
- Put the vinegar, salt and stevia in a small cup. Mix with a spoon until the salt is dissolved.
- Pour the vinegar mixture into the bowl with the cucumbers.
- Close the lid tightly and shake until everything is well mixed.
- Refrigerate 1–2 hours, mix well and serve cold.
|Per serving if 4 servings:
|Per serving if 6 servings:
Tips for making the pickles
I always use cheese slicer for slicing cucumbers. It works well if you remember to be careful with your hands and fingers…
After placing the cucumbers in the bowl (or in my case yogurt pot), it’s time to add the chopped dill.
Set the bowl aside and take a small cup where you combine the vinegar, salt and stevia.
Take a spoon and mix gently. It doesn’t take long before the salt is dissolved, just a minute or maximum two.
It’s best to use large bowl so that the ingredients have enough space to get mixed well. I’m sure your kids will want to help you with shaking, it’s the fun part! Just make sure that the lid is tightly closed. Shake, baby!
Please feel free to adjust the sweetness to your liking. As I like quite sweet, I add 5 drops stevia, which gives some sweetness but not too much. Too much stevia might also give nasty aftertaste which is typical of stevia. In some of my experiments I used 10 drops, which was a bit too much. However, this accompaniment benefits from some sweetness, it rounds the flavor of the apple cider vinegar.
My experiences with the recipe
There is a popular Finnish recipe for fresh cucumber pickles called “grandma’s cucumbers” or “jiggle cucumbers”. I think I would call them “wiggle-waggle cucumbers”. The name originates from the fact that the ingredients are shaken in a tightly closed bowl to get everything well mixed. Most common variations contain at least fresh cucumber, dill, spirit vinegar, sugar and salt. Also other spices can be used.
In my childhood I ate my crispy, summer-fresh cucumbers peeled and sliced, seasoned with a generous pinch of salt. My mom always put the cucumber slices to a small dessert bowl (far too small…) added the salt, put a saucer tightly on top and shook the bowl so that the cucumbers and the salt were well mixed. Well, they didn’t mix well because the dessert bowl was too small… But it was the tradition…
That was extremely simple, but it really made my summer. Then people were told salt was dangerous and my mom didn’t add salt to the cucumbers anymore. Now, when I know that it’s the table salt (sodium chloride) which is the evil, I happily add some unrefined sea salt to my cucumbers.
Cucumbers and salt would have been a bit too simple recipe to publish — no matter how much I like to simplify things — so I wanted to develop something more fresh and perhaps a little tart and tangy. Since it seemed that I was the only Finn who hadn’t tried the popular Finnish cucumber recipe yet, I wanted to try it and modify it to suit my needs.
Sweet, savory, tangy, crispy. That sounded like a perfect combination! However, in the conventional recipes the sweetness comes from sugar, and that was out of question for me. Even the amount is just a couple of tablespoons I didn’t want to add any. Even if my body could stand the carbs, I hate the sticky and plaque-filled feeling sugar leaves in my mouth.
Stevia was the natural substitute for sugar. I didn’t want to try erythritol because of its cooling effect, I was afraid it would simply taste awkward with cucumbers.
In my first experiment I combined 3 peeled and sliced cucumbers and a bit less than 1/4 cup (60 ml) finely chopped dill. I was wondering how to add the stevia so that it would be properly mixed. A few drops added to the cucumbers just like that would not probably mix very well. Some traditional recipes called for some water, but I didn’t want my cucumbers watery.
The solution was simpler than I thought: since I was going to add vinegar, I could mix the stevia and the salt with that.
At first I used spirit vinegar but even a small amount felt too sharp and strong. And too weird, I would say. There I got the idea to add raw apple cider vinegar — the flavor would be milder and more elegant, and it would be actually very healthy.
ACV worked perfectly. The taste was mild yet tangy, and stevia was rounding the flavor nicely. Just a bit more salt and less stevia, and the taste was perfect.
Tips for variation and for use
Instead of ACV you can experiment with other types of vinegar. If you are a friend of really tangy flavors, you can use spirit vinegar.
You can add some organic extra virgin olive oil for healthy fats and richer flavor.
If you like, you can grind some organic black pepper on the ready pickles. Please feel free to try other herbs and spices as well.
If you tolerate dairy, you can add 1 cup (240 ml) thick, full-fat Greek or Turkish yogurt to make these pickles as rich, tzatziki-like accompaniment.
These pickles are perfect with low-carb burgers and with sea food. You can also use them on gluten-free low-carb bread.
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