Cucumbers drawing

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Dill cucumbers - pickled

Recently I visited Estonia, from where my parents came in their mid-twenties after World War I to settle in Sydney. I was able to experience first-hand eating genuine Estonian pickled cucumbers. As very poor migrants living through the Depression, my parents were fortunate to have a few acres of land at West Epping. We had a cow, chooks and grew vegetables. My favourites were cucumbers which Mum pickled in the Estonian way, with salt, dill and grape leaves till they fermented naturally.

These pickled cucumbers could be eaten on their own or as one of the ingredients in a beetroot salad with sour cream, called rosolje. I make this salad on special occasions, like Christmas. However, I have never tried to pickle my own cucumbers. Fortunately, you can buy jars of them here in Perth, made in Poland or even India. They must not be the gherkin type made with sugar that Australians favour. The pickled cucumbers I'm talking about here are sadly made with vinegar, but with salt, they taste authentic.

I always have a jar of these pickled cucumbers in the frig and use them in a sandwich or in salads.

In 1965, when my husband and I came to live in Perth and I was pregnant with our first child, I had a craving for these cucumbers. One time in the city we passed by Foy's store which I'd discovered sold them, so I begged my husband to stop and let me buy a jar. I'd pretty well finished the jar by the time we got home. Needless to say I was violently ill that night.

As a postscript, a great favourite of Estonians is a fresh continental or Lebanese cucumber, unpeeled, sliced with chopped dill and sour cream.

Margaret Hill

Jiri's potato salad, from Maria

500 potatoes boiled in their skins    
1 carrot
Peas (not necessary)
3 large polski dill cucumbers
1 small brown onion (shallot)
2 large spoons of yoghurt
2 large spoons mayonnaise
lemon juice
1 small spoon sugar
pepper, salt

Chop vegetables into small cubes and mix. Combine remaining ingredients and mix into the vegetables.

Jiri Zmitko

Although this recipe is not from Estonia, it is a delicious way of using dill cucumbers, apart from eating straight from the jar. It is an old family recipe from the Czech Republic that has been handed down from generation to generation. It was given to Jìrí Zmitko from his mother and grandmother when he migrated to Australia in 1993.

Cucumbers part drawing