Chłodnik means coolant and it is a refreshing start to a meal in summer.
This classic version is usually make with botwiny for which I cannot find a good translation into English.
Botwiny are young beetroots with the stalks and some leaves still attached. In Poland you can buy bunches of these for sale or you can pick them early from your garden or allotment. Here in England I have not see them for sale so if you want them you will have to grow them for yourself.
If you do have some you use all the parts – the roots, stalks and the leaves otherwise you just use cooked beetroot.
The classic version uses soured milk but unless you have access to this then Greek style natural yoghurt or soured cream and lemon juice are good alternatives.
I use beetroot concentrate which is convenient and very tasty.
1 tablespoon of beetroot concentrate to 250ml of yoghurt is a good proportion.
250g of cooked beetroots
Spring onion – green parts or chives
500ml of yoghurt or 300ml soured cream
2 tablespoons of beetroot concentrate
Handful of dill
Lemon juice and gherkin liquor and cold water
Salt & Pepper & Sugar to taste
Hard boiled eggs to serve – ½ egg per person
Chop the beetroot into small cubes.
Chop the gherkins into small cubes.
Chop the spring onions or chives into small pieces.
Chop the dill into small pieces.
Mix the yoghurt or soured cream & lemon juice with the beetroot concentrate.
Thin this down with lemon juice, gherkin liquor & water to suit.
Add the chopped beetroots, gherkins, dill and spring onions or chives.
Adjust the seasoning to taste.
Chill in the fridge for several hours.
Serve with quarters of hard boiled eggs and a sprinkle of chives or dill.
Served in Carnation by Royal Doulton – 1982 – 1998
Gherkins are cucumbers that have been fermented in brine or pickled with vinegar.
Botanically cucumbers are fruit although they are a vegetables from the culinary point of view.
In Polish the word ogórki means cucumbers.
Kiszoneogórki means fermented cucumbers – either in brine or vinegar.
Letnieogórki means summer cucumbers – which are fresh salad cucumbers.
The Latin name for the cucumber is Cucumis sativus and it is a member of the gourd family and so related to pumpkins and melons.
It is thought the plant originated in India and then was taken to Greece and from there to northern Europe.
I have read that the making of pickles by fermenting in brine is over 4,000 years old. This would preserve vegetables throughout the winter – well before the days of frozen food and supermarkets!
A quick look at the journey of the word –Gherkin – according to several dictionary sources.
This is a word that started in Greece and travelled to England & America via Poland, Germany and The Netherlands.
Angourion – Medieval Greek for cucumber.
Ogórek – Polish for cucumber
Gurke – German for cucumber
Augurk – Dutch for a brined or pickled cucumber
Gherkin – English for a brined or pickled cucumber
In Poland, July & August are the main months for making gherkins at home and once when I was there at that time in my relatives’ houses every container seemed to have been put into use for a stage in their production.
Everyone has their own special recipe using brine and sometimes vinegar with the addition of garlic and herbs and spices – the most often used is the flower head of the dill plant – hence we get dill pickles. Some methods are very quick taking just a few days others take longer.
The type of cucumber used is a different variety than the salad cumber it is shorter, fatter, often knobbier and has a lower water content.
I cannot at the moment give you a good recipe for making gherkins as I have rarely seen the right variety of cucumbers for sale in England – maybe now with more Polish shops I might see some next year and try out some recipes.
The bought gherkins I like are the Polish Krakus ones.
Another type I like are ones you can buy in Lidl – these are made with sugar and vinegar and are sliced lengthways – they have only a slight vinegar taste and are sweet – I do not like the very vinegary kind.
There are many uses of gherkins in Polish cookery – the most famous must be gherkin soup – which I just love – but that recipe I will cover later once I start to write about soups.
Of course gherkins – form part of many salads.
Gherkin and Tomato Salad
3 or 4 Gherkins – cut into discs
4 or 5 Tomatoes- cut into half & then thinly sliced
1 small onion – finely chopped
Flat-leaved parsley – finely chopped – to garnish
Salt and pepper to taste.
In a bowl mix together the gherkins, tomatoes and onions.
Sprinkle with a little salt and add 1 or 2 tablespoons of the liquid from the gherkin jar (if none is available then use some lemon juice) and mix again.
Place into a serving dish and sprinkle with chopped flat leaved parsley and freshly ground black pepper.