Pickles ‒ Suolakurkut

Hey who took the summer away? Didn't August used to be the most summery month or is my memory playing tricks on me?

Though I already opened the mushroom season yesterday I thought that before mushroom recipes I ought to post you something I got started two weeks ago: pickles. Finns love them on rye bread, as a sidekick and especially with fast food. There are basically four common variations that can of course be seasoned creatively.

1. Suolakurkku is pickled in salty brine. This is what I prepared after I got to watch some example from a certain lady from Eastern Karelia and realized how simple it really is.
2. Etikkakurkku is preserved in sweet vinegar brine. A common mistake is using way too much vinegar. Think this is the most common variation in the rest of Scandinavia.
3. Maustekurkku or herkkukurkku may contain both salt and vinegar but instead of them the taste should be ruled by spices. These tend to be on the sweet side as well.
4. Hapankurkku aka Russian suolakurkku is also pickled in salty brine but the pickles are turned sour, for example with a sour bread piece or some yogurt as a starter. I've never seen these sold in your average supermarket.

- garden cucumbers (as many as you can cram into your largest glass jar)
- enough water to fill the jar
- 25 g salt for every water litre
- for seasoning black currant leaves, mustard seeds, whole black peppers, garlic cloves, dill flowers and/or horseradish

Wash the cucumbers and let them soak in water overnight. In the morning, arrange the cucumbers into your jar together with the spices ‒ whole or sliced. If you're using black currant leaves wrap them around the cucumbers. Boil up the water and dissolve the salt. Pour the hot water on the cucumbers. Make sure that all the cucumbers are fully covered underneath the water since contact with air makes them rotten. Close the lid and move into a cool place. The pickles should be ready in about two weeks.

If you replace about ten percent of the water with vodka the pickles should better hold on to their beautiful green colour. For less traditional versions ginger and cinnamon also make nice spices. After you've eaten the pickles, the brine itself is an excellent basis for many soups.


  1. Yummy,pickles! The only time I tried my hand at homemade pickles they got bad and burst and I still don't know what went wrong...

  2. Sorry to hear! There are really two options that I can think of: either they got air or were in a place too warm. Hope you still have the courage to try again.

  3. Great post. I love suolakurkku/hapankurkku!

    A question or rather a comment on Russian pickles: I'm wondering whether it is essential to use a starter to make sour pickles? I read somewhere that a correct ratio of salt and water, sterilized equipment, airtight containers and the right temperature are the necessary preconditions, but it does help if you have sour juice or some other component with lactic acid.

  4. I'm just repeating things I've heard. :) Obliviously you have to be right considering that lactic acid bacteria are found everywhere - after all, I didn't use any starter when making sauerkraut or yogurt. I think the reason for most recipes preferring starters is to make sure it's really lactobasillus and not some other micro organism that takes the charge.


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