Fast and furious
This week we are invited into a little Ukrainian secret: naturally quick-fermented cucumbers with a rare intensity of flavour redolent of scorching Ukrainian summers
two-day ferment. Malosolni ogirky (literally “little-salted gherkins” – those that are quickly pickled) are incredibly easy and a good introduction to fermentation. All you need is some good water (no chlorine as it kills bacteria) and organic produce (pesticides again get in the way of the process), salt, some flavourings and a maximum of two summer days. My Russian-Kazakh friend Mari, when in a rush, also uses carbonated water – extra CO2 is believed to be a catalyst for the process.
If your kitchen is hot, the malosolni will be ready within 24 hours. And then ... oh my. Slightly fizzy, delicately sour, retaining freshness but with enough funk to be served with rye bread and lardo, taming the heat of a freshly downed ice-cold vodka shot. This is a classic I’m giving you here. But I have also gone further than that. Add some halved chilli and garlic slices to the ferment. When ready, finely dice the gherkin and his friends. Then, alongside a small spoonful of the fizzy brine, pour it over an oyster. Because the ferment is so young, it won’t kill the delicate oyster flavour. They’re