Swedish Refrigerator Pickles are slightly sweet and flavored with a combination of fresh dill, juniper berries, fennel, mustard and celery seeds for a slightly spicy flavor that is delicious on sandwiches or with meats and cheeses.Jump to Recipe
Historically, Swedes had to learn to preserve foods to see them through their long hard winters. Although this is no longer necessary, a great affection for the old fashioned ways of preserving and pickling developed. Pickled vegetables are a perfect addition to Scandinavian meats, cheeses, and certainly smørrebrød or smörgås (open-face sandwiches). Swedish Pickles are also a classic pairing with Köttbullar, or Swedish Meatballs.
There are several different ways of pickling cucumbers, but this recipe/preparation has a nice balance of sweetness, salt and vinegar. Smörgåsgurka translates as “sandwich cucumber” as the slices are used on open sandwiches, especially with meats and pates. These Swedish refrigerator pickles require no canning, and are quick to make and store for a couple of weeks!
My garden is usually filled with numerous varieties of cucumbers, and I pickle them all! The key to this recipe is salting the slices first before putting them in the brine. The salting will remove some of the water, resulting in a nice crisp and flavorful slice. Sometimes I even throw in a few small peppers to add a bit more spice.
The brine solution has a balance of vinegar, salt and sugar to give the sweet/sour profile. The juniper, dill, mustard and fennel give the pickles a particularly Swedish flavor.
Once your jars are filled with the cucumbers, spices and hot brine, they are capped and allowed to cool before refrigerating. The pickles are ready to eat within hours, but they will have their best flavor after marinating for a few days. Enjoy them from your fridge for up to 2 weeks!
Swedish Refrigerator Pickles
- Canning jars
- 2 pounds cucumbers, thinly sliced
- Kosher salt, for sprinkling
- 3 cups white vinegar
- 1 cup white sugar
- 2 teaspoons kosher salt
- 1 teaspoon mustard seed
- 1 teaspoon celery seed
- 1 teaspoon fennel seed
- 1 teaspoon peppercorns
- 1 teaspoon juniper berries
- 1 ½ cups fresh dill crowns or fronds
- Line a rimmed baking sheet or sheets with paper towels and lightly sprinkle with coarse salt. Arrange the sliced cucumbers in a single layer on top of the salted surface and sprinkle with a little more salt. Cover with another layer of paper towels. Let the cucumbers stand for 20 minutes, then pat dry with paper towel.
- In a large pot combine the vinegar, sugar and salt. Bring to a boil, stirring to dissolve the sugar and salt.
- In a small bowl, combine the dried spices and mix well.
- Fill jars with even amounts of the cucumber slices almost to the rim. Divide the spice mix and dill crowns or fronds evenly between the filled jars.
- Pour the hot brine into the jars to completely cover the cucumbers and seal with lids. Allow to cool to room temperature then transfer to the refrigerator.
- The pickles will be ready to eat once chilled, but will develop their best flavor over a few days. Enjoy for up to 2 weeks from the refrigerator!