Pressgurka (Swedish pickled cucumbers) are an easy to make, no cooking required, delicious side dish. They’re the perfect combination of sweet, sour, crisp and tart. These refreshing pickled cucumbers pair perfectly with heavy, savory dishes like Swedish meatballs or a roast, and with lighter foods like grilled salmon or cheese and crackers!
In Swedish, pressgurka means “pressed” (press) “cucumber” (gurka). Pressgurka are thinly sliced cucumbers pressed to remove some of the water and then pickled in a sweet and sour liquid.
Pickling is big in Scandinavia. You can find a variety of pickled foods, including pickled vegetables, pickled fish, and even pickled eggs. Pickling is a very simple process and is used to preserve foods. In Scandinavia, the growing season is very short, so pickling is a way to extend the shelf life of foods.
What Are Pressed Cucumbers (Pressgurka)?
Pressgurka translates to “pressed cucumbers” which is the process used to make this dish. Cucumbers are thinly sliced, salted and then the liquid is “pressed” out of them.
Why Do You Press the Liquid Out of Cucumbers?
Adding salt to sliced cucumbers draws out the extra moisture in the cucumbers. Pressing the cucumbers helps the process along, squeezing out any extra moisture. This process makes room for the pickling liquid and all its flavor to be absorbed into the cucumbers.
What Type of Vinegar Should I Use?
In Scandinavia, the most common vinegar used for pickling is ättiksprit (spirit vinegar). Ättiksprit is 12% acetic acid while regular white vinegar is 5% acetic acid, so it’s much stronger than most vinegars found in the US. Ättiksprit is very hard to find outside Scandinavia, so white vinegar is a viable substitute.
Ingredients & Substitutions
- Cucumbers: Ridge cucumbers are the best type of cucumbers for this recipe as they contain the least amount of water, but any cucumber will work. I use whatever I can find in the grocery store.
- Vinegar: I use white vinegar, but you can also play around with different types of vinegar, like rice vinegar, wine vinegar, or apple cider vinegar.
- Sugar: Balances out the sour with a little sweetness.
- Parsley: I used parsley in this recipe, but you can also use dill.
How to Make Pressgurka
- Thinly slice the cucumber using a Swedish style cheese slicer, mandolin or sharp knife.
- Lay the cucumber slices in a single layer on a plate. Sprinkle some of the salt over the cucumbers.
- Repeat the process until you’ve laid out and salted all the cucumber slices.
- Lay another plate on top of the cucumber slices and add some weight to the top of the plate. Leave it for about 30 minutes. I just use a few cans of whatever I have in the pantry or a bag of flour.
- Meanwhile, mix together the water, vinegar, sugar, white pepper and chopped parsley. Stir until the sugar has dissolved.
- After about 30 minutes, drain off and discard any excess liquid that has accumulated. I give the cucumbers a little squeeze and then use a paper towel to blot off any excess water.
- Transfer the cucumber slices to a bowl or a jar and pour the vinegar mixture over the cucumber slices.
- Cover and refrigerate for at least an hour before serving so the flavors have a chance to develop.
- Let it sit – Although you may be tempted to devour these delicious, pickled cucumbers immediately, it pays to wait. Let them sit in the fridge for at least an hour, preferably longer, so the flavors have time to meld and develop.
- Play with the seasonings – You can add different herbs or spices to change up the flavor. Try making it with dill, white or black peppercorns, or cloves.
What to Serve with Pressgurka
- Most commonly served with Swedish meatballs, lingonberries and mashed potatoes.
- A delicious side to my Fiskefrikadeller (Danish Fish Cakes).
- It’s delicious with my Danish breaded pork patties (Karbonader).
- Serve it with my Creamy Potato Soup (Potatissoppa).
- Add it to your sandwich or smørrebrød.
- Serve alongside my stuvade makaroner (Swedish milk stewed macaroni).
How to Store Pressgurka
Store pressgurka in an airtight container or a jar. It will keep for up to a week in the refrigerator.
Pressgurka (Swedish Pickled Cucumbers)
- 1 large cucumber
- ½ tsp salt
- ½ cup water
- ¼ cup white vinegar
- 2 Tbsp white sugar
- 2 Tbsp parsley, finely chopped
- pinch white pepper
- Thinly slice cucumber using a Swedish style cheese slicer, mandolin or sharp knife.
- Lay cucumber slices in a single layer on a plate. Sprinkle some salt over cucumbers, repeating the process until all cucumber slices have been used.
- Lay another plate on top of the cucumber slices and add some weight to the top of the plate. Leave it for about 30 minutes.
- Meanwhile, mix together water, vinegar, sugar, white pepper and chopped parsley. Stir until sugar has dissolved.
- Drain off and discard excess liquid from cucumber slices. Give cucumbers a squeeze and use a paper towel to blot off any excess water.
- Transfer cucumber slices to a bowl or a jar. Pour vinegar mixture over cucumber slices.
- Cover and refrigerate at least 1 hour before serving to allow flavors to develop.