What is pressgurka?
Pressgurka is one of the most traditional accompaniments of Swedish cuisine. In Swedish, gurka means “cucumber” and press means “to squeeze” or “to press”.
How to make pressgurka
In the traditional pressgurka recipe, the cucumber is sliced very thinly and it is salted. Then a weight is placed on the sliced cucumber to help it get rid of its water, hence the term “squeeze”. Squeezing them makes the cucumber slices crisper.
The slices of cucumber are drained, dried and then combined with a mixture consisting of vinegar, sugar, water and various spices and/or herbs.
Some people prefer dill, while others prefer white peppercorns, or mustard or cumin seeds, or just parsley.
The essential tool for this pressgurka recipe is, of course, the mandolin slicer.
Pressgurka is the most traditional accompaniment of Swedish meatballs, the kottbullar alongside mashed potatoes, the potatismos all drizzled with rårörda lingon, the ubiquitous lingonberry sauce.
Sweden is the largest country in Scandinavia, one of the northernmost regions of Europe.
Swedish cuisine is known around the world for the unpronounceable names of many of its dishes, some of them made famous by the popular furniture store chain IKEA.
Combinations of sweet and savory or sweet and spicy flavors are some of the major characteristics of Swedish gastronomy.
In Sweden, crops are limited to cereals (barley and oats), potatoes and sugar beet.
Very rich in game and fish, Sweden also has a good breeding of cattle, pigs and poultry, with a fair production of milk, cheese and eggs.
In Sweden, fish and especially herring reign supreme: it is prepared marinated, fried, cooked, baked, smoked, served with sour cream and many other ways.
Salmon is also a very popular fish in Sweden. Try the famous salmon gravlax with this pressgurka.
Meat is less consumed than fish: reindeer meatballs, reindeer tongue, paté and reindeer sausages are mainly prepared.
In Swedish cuisine, acid and sugar usually predominate, spices are mostly used in sweet preparations, such as ginger biscuits.
Meats are often accompanied by jams, among which lingonberry and cranberry jams stand out the most.
Swedes start their day with a hearty breakfast of boiled or scrambled eggs, ham, cheeses, cereals, juices, yogurts, sausages, and again these famous meatballs accompanied by rye bread.
The most famous Swedish culinary tradition is without a doubt the smörgåsbord, literally “buttered bread table”. Smörgåsbord is a type of Scandinavian buffet, native to Sweden, consisting of many kinds of fish, such as herring, salmon and eel. The set is accompanied by various salads, typically Scandinavian cold cuts, eggs, onions and breads, as well as multiple hot and cold dishes.
The best-known Swedish flavors are undoubtedly meatballs (köttbullar) or fish (fiskbullar), and game, cinnamon desserts such as kanelbullar, and delicious Lapland caviar, löjrom, based of bleak eggs, the Swedish equivalent of sturgeon caviar.
Among the desserts, semla has also become a symbol of Swedish cuisine; the traditional dessert of Lent, brioche bread topped with marzipan and whipped cream.
History of cucumber
Symbol of freshness, cucumber is one of the summer vegetables par excellence.
The first cultures of cucumber date back more than 5,000 years and are located at the foot of the Himalayas. The plant, belonging to the cucurbitaceae family, such as melon or squash, was probably introduced into the Mediterranean basin by the Egyptians.
Cucumber was indeed one of the most popular vegetables on the tables of the Pharaohs. The Bible (Numbers 11: 5) reports that the Hebrews arrived in the Promised Land and made it their favorite meal.
It was popular among the Greeks and Romans to stimulate intelligence and, thanks to the very high percentage of water contained, it was appreciated as soothing and refreshing.
It is even said that Emperor Tiberius, second Roman emperor from 14 to 37 BC. J.-C, tasted cucumbers all year round, went against his principles of a thrifty and tough warrior, having costly greenhouses on wheels, saying “The precious plants can be transported to the sun day by day and protected in a closed place at night.”
After the fall of the Roman Empire, the vegetable went out of fashion and reappeared in the 8th century, in the Holy Roman Empire, at the court of Charlemagne.
Already in the sixteenth century, in addition to its gastronomic qualities, cucumber was also recognized for its properties of aesthetic remedy and used it in the composition of ointments and lotions.
The benefits of cucumber
Cucumber is not just a vegetable but it has proven to be an excellent ally for the general health of the body.
In fact, it contains a very important predominant substance: tartaric acid. Why is this acid so important? Because it prevents carbs from food introduced into our bodies from turning into fat, dietitians recommend consuming cucumber in diets and for anyone who wants to control their weight.
Experts even suggest using it in combination with wholegrain bread to fully enhance its effectiveness as a highly dietary food. It also contains very few calories, only 12 calories per 100 grams, and is a very good diuretic and detoxifying food.
It is the ideal vegetable for the summer, to dispel the risk of dehydration, to recover lost energy and thus to keep in shape.
And on the aesthetic side? Do you know the classic image of the girl with cucumber slices on her eyes? Well, wherever you see it, know that it is not false advertisement! Cucumber really works for dark circles, and not only.
Placing cucumbers on the eyes deflate them, reduce puffiness and dark circles and lighten the eyes.
Cucumber is a real remedy for the skin in general. It helps to lighten age spots, thanks to its decongestant properties and, used continuously, it can also help with wrinkles. Try an authentic and cheap mask of chopped cucumber, olive oil and a few drops of lemon juice and you will see that your skin will be soft, luminous and rejuvenated.
In the event of a burn, mashed or sliced cucumber provides almost immediate relief to sunburned skin. Just place the cucumber against the affected area.
How to pick cucumbers
To pick the best cucumber, always choose a shiny, well-stretched, non-wrinkled skin with firm, never-soggy spikes. Above all, avoid cucumbers too small or too big: they can indeed be respectively a sign of mediocre and excessive maturation. Larger fruits are also richer in seeds.
Good to know: the smaller the cucumber, the less seeds it contains and the more concentrated it is in flavors.
How to store cucumbers
Cucumber can keep crisp for up to a week in the crisper drawer of the refrigerator. If it is already cut, remember to protect the open surface with plastic wrap.
Squeeze the cucumber, you’ll love the freshness of the pressgurka!
- 1 cucumber
- 1 teaspoon salt
- ½ cup water
- 4 tablespoons white vinegar
- 3 tablespoons caster sugar
- 3 tablespoons chopped fresh dill
- Thinly slice the cucumber with a mandolin slicer.
- Place the cucumber slices in a colander and coat them with salt.
Place a dish on the cucumber and add a weight over it (for example 4 lb / 2 kg of flour).
- Boil the water and stir in the vinegar and sugar. Stir until the sugar dissolves.
- Cool and add the dill.
- Remove the weight from the cucumber and squeeze it by hand.
- Transfer the cucumber slices to a large bowl or glass jar and pour over the mixture of water, vinegar, sugar and dill.
- Mix well.
- Refrigerate for 3 hours before serving.