Moomins’ Pickled Cucumber Salad

moominsaladpp

Moomins, aka Moomin trolls, are chubby characters invented by the Finnish-Swedish writer Tove Janssen who depicted their adventures in a series of sparingly illustrated books I used to devour in my early teens. The books were originally written in Swedish and then became famous all around the world, in as different countries as Germany and Japan, where they were extremely popular. I remember I immensely enjoyed finding myself plunged in the peaceful, simple Moomin world, where everyone was kind and even the scariest characters end up being nice… I got really addicted to Moomins when, in the 90s, the tv started to broadcast a full-coloured Japanese Moomin cartoon. Here is the English theme song, just to give you an idea of what Moomins’ world looks like:

Afterwards I learnt that several different cartoons had been produced not only in Japan, and some as early as in the 60s! I have to confess even as an adult I feel nostalgic about Moomins. Once, I have even given CG from Cooking Gallery an idea to put them into one of her extraordinary charaben (character bento boxes). Imagine my joy when I saw she actually made perfect, beautiful, edible Moomin family! Click here to see what I of course consider as the most beautiful of CG’s bento boxes.

Moomins’ adventures haven’t been developped for years, so imagine my emotion when I learnt the existence of the Moomins Cookbook! Luckily, it has already been translated into English, otherwise I would certainly order it in Swedish (or Finnish) and would insist on reading it with a dictionary in one hand! As its title suggests (Moomins Coookbook. An Introduction to Finnish Cuisine), this illustrated book contains Finnish recipes. However, I must admit I haven’t ordered it with intention of its practical use, but merely to purchase a new Moomin item.

Imagine how excited I was to discover there not only an ideal way to pickle the cucumbers I was offered at the farmers’ market, but to realise that the result went far beyond what I had hoped for. The salad is extremely flavoursome, it can be served as a side dish or drained and put into sandwiches and I recommend it to everyone, not only Moomins’ fans. However, I admit that labeling the jars as “Moomins’ Salad” is a particularly thrilling experience for someone who feels nostalgic for these chubby characters.

I have slightly changed the recipe, skipping cloves (not my kind of seasoning in cucumber pickles) and horseradish,  which I didn’t have and decreasing the sugar amount. In my first batch I have substituted fresh black currant leaves with dried ones but it didn’t add any taste, so I have skipped them in following batches. Check the Moomins Cookbook for the original recipe.

TIPS: The recipe calls for sliced gherkins, but long cucumbers were a perfect substitute. I have only slightly modified it, mainly reducing the sugar content, so if you prefer sweeter pickles, add 320 g sugar.

I didn’t have fresh black currant leaves, have put dried ones instead, but I think they don’t change the taste at all, so I shall skip them next time. The salad tastes lovely without them too!

I have also skipped grated horseradish and the pickles were excellent anyway.

This salad can of course be made as a short-term pickle too and kept in the fridge. It is ready after a couple of days.

After several experiments I must say I prefer 2 mm cucumber slices (about 0.05 in) rather than paper thin. As for the carrot, I prefer it paper thin.

Preparation: 1 hour + hot water bath processing (or another method)

Ingredients (I have obtained 5 x 400 ml jars):

1 kg gherkins or cucumbers

1 big carrot

1 tablespoon allspice berries

1 tablespoon peppercorns

1 tablespoon mustard seeds

4 garlic cloves (peeled and cut in two)

(1 tablespoon grated horseradish, which is optional in the recipe and which I didn’t have)

dill flowers, stems (dried or fresh) or seeds

(blackcurrant leaves (I used dried, but they don’t really change the taste so either use fresh ones or skip them))

1 liter wine or cider vinegar (4,5%)

200 g sugar

3 tablespoons salt

Wash and scrub the gherkins. If using big long cucumbers you can peel them if the skin is very tough or only one row in two (as I did) or not at all (the pickles will be crunchier). Slice the cucumbers or gherkins finely with a knife or with a mandolin.

Peel the carrot and slice it finely too.

Pack the sliced vegetables tightly into the jars, distributing the spices and garlic evenly between the layers (one garlic clove for one jar). Finish the layering at the 3/4 of the jars’ height.

Combine the vinegar, the salt and the sugar. Bring to boil, stirring.

Pour the hot vinegar into the jars (leave 1,5 cm under the rim) and close them.

/At this point you can (after the jars have cooled down)  either keep them in the fridge for a couple of weeks or process as described below and store in your pantry for at least a year!/

Leave the jars to cool.

Place the cool jars into a big pan, bottom lined with an old kitchen towel folded in two (this will prevent the jars from breaking), cover up with hot – but not boiling- water to the level just below the lid. Bring to boil and keep on a very low heat, in simmering water, for around 20 minutes.

Stick on self-adhesive labels, write the name of the salad and don’t forget to mark the date.

NOTE: For the readers who live in the USA, the USDA-approved canning method is different. You can find it described here: http://www.uga.edu/nchfp/publications/uga/using_bw_canners.html.

Moomins' Cucumber Salad on Punk Domestics

35 thoughts on “Moomins’ Pickled Cucumber Salad

  1. Mr. Three-Cookies

    I am not really familiar with mommins, I heard about it but never read any of the books. However I have eaten salads which are similar to what you describe. Amazing that it can be kept for so long. I suppose when cucumbers are in season and cheap you can make plenty and store it, if you manage to find space in your pantry/warehouse:)

    1. Sissi Post author

      I suppose this salad must be quite popular in Northern Europe. How did you know I have problems with finding space in my pantry? ;-)

      1. Mr. Three-Cookies

        In Sweden (and other Nordic countries) its quite common to use sugar in pickles – even some pickled herring is slightly sweet. About the situation regarding the pantry, you have mentioned this in other posts.

        1. Sissi Post author

          Most of the pickled herrings I have found in IKEA grocery shop are really too sweet to my taste… (Pity because it is the only place in Switzerland where I can buy vinegared herrings in different sauces). I have reduced sugar content here too, but I must say I like adding sugar to pickles. It mellows the vinegar taste and adds an additional preserving factor (sugar).

  2. Greg

    Great story, I wasn’t familiar with that book. One of the things I loved living in California was how the Mexican restaurants would bring out little bowls of pickled carrots as an appetizer. They’re just wonderful. This recipe looks great.

    1. Sissi Post author

      Thank you, Greg. The carrots bring the colour and the taste (and a bit of crunch), but the most important is the cucumber. Even those who hate raw cucumber admit that when pickled, they become really interesting. I have never made only pickled carrots. Thanks for the idea. Maybe next time my friendly farmer will offer me some carrots? Who knows…

    1. Sissi Post author

      I totally agree. I think it is a particularly sweet and peaceful imaginary world. Some fairy tales can be very cruel, but there is no cruelty or violence in the Moomins’ world.

  3. Nami | Just One Cookbook

    Moomins!!!!!! I used to have several books and watched the TV show and had those character goods of Moomins while growing up. I didn’t know there is a Moomin cookbook!!! I’d love to have Finnish cucumber salad!

    1. Sissi Post author

      Nami, I cannot believe you are also a Moomin fan! I am so happy you understand my nostalgic attitude. The Moomin Cookbook is full of very simple Finnish recipes (some can be made by children too) and most of them look really universal from the point of view of taste preferences… There are also some fragments of the stories next to the recipes. You should definitely buy it if you are a Moomin fan. Leafing through the pages is already a huge pleasure :-)

  4. Malli

    Never heard about Moomins…. however sounds interesting. The pickle looks delicious but not familiar with black currant leaves and dill flowers. May need to scan the organic store nearby>> ThnX for the recipe

    1. Sissi Post author

      Thank you, Malli! Black currant leaves are not crucial here, unless you find the fresh ones. From what I taste after one week, the most important is dill (seeds also can be used!), mustard, garlic and allspice. Let me know if you try it! It’s really delicious and easy.

  5. Kelly

    I’ve never heard of Moomins but am very intrigued… Particularly since I have a son who reads like a demon and is constantly in search of new adventure series. I have to look into it.

    “I must admit I haven’t ordered it with intention of its practical use, but merely to purchase a new Moomin item.” Love that line!! I have a thing for pickled veggies (I survived law school on them), and have no trouble imagining how delicious this salad would be (so many great inclusions -allspice berries, blackcurrant leaves, dill flowers…). I’m very happy to have this recipe and I think the whole family will enjoy it too. What a great post!

    1. Sissi Post author

      Thank you so much, Kelly! I think it’s a wonderful, non-violent book for children (and sometimes for adults too ;-) )
      Thank you for not laughing at my childish side :-) I was really so excited to get a new Moomin book I didn’t care what it was about (of course I was happy it was rather about cooking and not for example about the car industry ;-) ).
      If you like pickled vegetables, you will enjoy this salad. I think dill (dried flowers or seeds) and allspice are a perfect pairing with cucumbers. I have always considered only the small gherkins as a pickling produce, but now I know I can also use the big long – and cheap – cucumbers.

  6. Raymund

    This recipe looks so similar to the Philippine Achara, I have a recipe on my blog but instead of cucumbers we use green papaya. Concept is similar lots of sugar and lots of vinegar. Love this one

    1. Sissi Post author

      Thank you, Raymund! I must have missed your pickled papaya! (Actually even though I add sugar the vinegar is not sweet at all, 200 mg per liter only mellows it). The word “achara” makes me thinks of “achards”, in French it means pickled vegetables served in the French Caribbean territories.

  7. Shilpa

    Sissi…another one of your great preserves/ pickles. I love pickled gherkins in sandwiches, so am really going to give this a go..Never seen blackberry leaves…can you think of any other substitute for that? Cloves have a very strong flavour and I would happily give them a miss too :-) Will give this a go while I am still in India with my family…

    1. Sissi Post author

      Shilpa, thank you for the kind comment. I think I will update my post, since my dried black currant leaves change nothing in the taste. Unfortunately I don’t have access to fresh ones, which are very aromatic and would bring something new. However, even without fresh black currant leaves this salad is incredibly good! So you can skip it.
      Have a great time with your family!

  8. Clarkie @ Beloved Green

    I had never heard of the Moomins before. I feel like I missed out on something from my childhood now :-) Having just spent a stint in Scandinavia, I think my host family should have educated me on them. I love that there is a cookbook for the characters though.

    It is kind of like the novelty of my friend giving me the Starwars Cookbook last year so I could make Wookie Cookies.

    1. Sissi Post author

      Starwars Cookbook???? Wow! Clarkie, there is never too late to start reading Moomins ;-)

  9. Charles

    Aah, Moomins. My sister had a little obsession with them for a while and I remember trawling round seemingly every single shop in the small town where my wife’s parents live trying to find something “Moomin” related, on my first visit to Sweden some years ago :D Great looking salad – the mix of flavours sound delicious!

    1. Sissi Post author

      Thank you, Charles! So, tell me, has she found anything? If I go to Sweden, do I have to make 20 toy shops or just one to buy a nice Moomin?

      1. Charles

        I think in the end I found her something, can’t remember what. I got her a “Moomin tea-tray” as well :D You’ll probably have more luck looking online or in Stockholm. Up north it gets a bit harder, but I’ll tell you what – I’m due to go back again around December. If you like I can send you something Moomin related?! :D

        1. Sissi Post author

          Thank you, Charles, it’s so kind of you, but I’m not crazy enough yet to bother you with a Moomin item ;-) On the other hand, it would be impossible for me to visit Sweden or Finland and to forget about Moomins :-) Thank you for your kind proposal.

  10. Laura @ Novelbite

    Yay, she does a book/food post! I am craaaazy about home-preserved pickles (they’re actually my favorite midnight snack, which is just weird, I know). I usually take the easy route and just whip up a batch of refrigerator pickles every few weeks. You’ve inspired me to do some real canning again!

    1. Sissi Post author

      Laura, I hope you are not being sarcastic. Moomins’ adventures are a serious masterpiece and an exceptional moment in the history of the world literature! I simply couldn’t keep silent, especially since now there is an occasion to learn the art of the Moomins’ cuisine ;-)
      I don’t know why, but I’m not surprised by your midnight snacks… Pickles are certainly a better snack than chocolate ;-) I hope you try making this salad one day. It’s really easy.

        1. Sissi Post author

          I was just joking ;-) I have almost written my Master degree thesis about a certain symbolic in fairy tales, so, as you see I have always treated imaginary characters very seriously. Sadly I don’t remember any particular food scenes from the Moomin series…
          The cookbook is really good! I have bookmarked many recipes (and it’s not because there are Moomin illustrations everywhere!).

  11. Cooking Gallery

    Wow, I can imagine how excited you must be when you saw the cookbook….:D)!! I would also do and feel the same if I should see a cookbook ‘sponsored’ by cartoon characters which I like ;). The cookbook looks totally cute and the salad sounds very refreshing too…!! Btw, thanks for the mention, Sissi, you’re just too kind :)!

    1. Sissi Post author

      Thank you so much, CG! I wouldn’t have boasted about this Moomin Salad, but I knew that you were one of the rare people who knew Moomins ;-) and definitely the only one who was able to make them out of quail eggs!

    1. Sissi Post author

      Thank you! I know Moomins and like them a lot. I wish I could go to Naantali one day… I have of course heard of Moomins’ world…

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