Posts Tagged ‘cucumbers’

Snack Food Review: Monolith Isumrudnye Pickled Gherkins

12 March, 2010

A QUICK post for the handful of other people who are searching for the perfect pickles. Here is a jar of Monolith Isumrudnye.

Monolith Isumrudnye Pickled Gherkins jar

I choose it from the shelves of Russkij Bazar in London’s East-End because it looked genuine, what with the Cyrillic. It turns out to be fake Russian, made by German manufacturer and distributor Monolith Gruppe for the huge East-European market in its backyard. Or so I was told by the pleasant lady who runs the shop.

Monolith Isumrudnye Pickled Gherkins front label

With a label like that, how would you know it’s not actually from Russia? Or Belarus? Or Ukraine? Or Bulgaria? Or… are those all the countries that use Cyrillic? If you know what any of those words or names mean, leave your translations in the comments section below.

Monolith Isumrudnye Pickled Gherkins back label

The sneaky depths of the product deception are revealed on the back. No more traditional looking Cyrillic. Just your typical multi-lingual EU product label. Monolith’s German address and web address are on there (www.monolith-gruppe.eu in case you were wondering).

The ingredients are cucumbers, spirit vinegar, sugar, salt, spices, acidifying agent, citric acid, oak leaves and flavour. That’s right. This jar contains tree foliage. I’m sold on the idea. Next I want to find one with pine cones and barn owl. It does mean however that it shouldn’t be too salty, unlike the last ones few I’ve tried, thank god.

So what do Monolith Isumrudnye Pickled Gherkins taste like? How do they compare and should you get some?

I like ‘em. They’ve got a nice, savoury taste. A hint of vinegar and a mildly salty finish. None of which are overpowering. They’re quite crunchy, though could be crunchier, and about the right size to be a good finger food snack.

Comparing them to the salt gherkins would be like comparing tangerines to oranges. But I will anyhow, and declare Monolith Isumrudnye Pickled Gherkins one of the best I’ve had for some time. Try them if you’re not so keen on salted gherkins.

Have you tried Monolith Isumrudnye Pickled Gherkins? Can you translate any of the words or names on the front label? Then I want to hear from you. Leave your opinions, corrections, recommendations, insights and places to buy, in the comments section below.

Snack Food Review: Steinhauer Oгурчики чесночнЬіе (Salted Pickled Cucumbers (Gherkins))

16 November, 2009

IT’S been months since I did one of these. But I know from the comments that at least one of you out there likes reading about pickle cucumbers and gherkins, and is looking for that elusive perfect pickle. So for that one lonely person, and myself, here is a super quick review of Steinhauer Oгурчики чесночнЬіе, which I think, transliterates as Steinhauer Ogurgicky Chesnochnia something or other. If you know your Cyrillic, do please leave your proper translations in the comments at the end of the post.

I bought this jar at the Brick Lane Sunday market in London’s East-End for £1.70 pence. Why did I choose this one? The Cyrillic writing on the label. That’s how you know you’re getting real East-European food.

The left-hand-side of the label reveals what I can call them until my Cyrillic improves.

Under The English language section, they’re called “Salted cucumbers with garlic”. Not much else of note. Mostly a list of herbs and leaves that mean little to me. Plus the address of the East-London based importer, Monolith-UK Ltd.

Over on the right are a few more small-print details.

The net weight is on top, followed by the drained weight. All you need to know is that when full, it’s a big, heavy jar. Not massive. Just big.

There’s also an address and a web address of www.monolith-gruppe.eu. It’s also worrying. That’s a big, German importer. And I can’t find anywhere that says where this jar came from. Sure, it has some Cyrillic. But it also has the very Germanic name Steinhauer. I’m beginning to suspect that these are more Bavarian than Bulgarian.

Regarless of that, they could still be good. So, what do they look, smell and taste like? Let’s find out.

What do they look like? They look like cucumbers. Small-ish.

What do they smell like? Not bad. Excellent, in fact. It smells of all sorts of herbs. Best smelling pickles I’ve tried yet.

What do they taste like? They’re salted cucumbers. They taste salty. Luckily, not too salty. Instead, being quite mild and easy to eat. You can taste a hint of those herbs and garlic as well. More good news is that they’re fresh and crunchy.

To sum up, Steinhauer Salted Cucumbers with Garlic are not bad. If you like salted cucumbers, they’re the best I’ve tried so far. I’ll go for the sweeter variety next time though. Are they the perfect pickle? They’re good, but not quite perfect.

Have you tried them? What do you think? Do please leave your translations, corrections, places to buy and anything else you want to share with the world, here in the comments.

Snack Food Review: Rivona Rokiškio Marinuoti Agurkai Pickled Cucumbers

21 March, 2009

IF Turkish pickles like Baktat Pickled Gherkins are salty. And sweet and sour pickles from Mrs. Elswood and Wardour were delicious. What will these Lithuanian pickled cucumbers be like?

Rivona Rokiškio Marinuoti Agurkai Pickled Cucumbers jar

This jar I bought for about £1.30 pence from an East European seller at the Brick Lane Sunday market. I’ve never seen them anywhere else. Although I’m sure you could if you scoured the East European shops around London.

I think the manufacturer is Rivona. But I could be wrong. Translators, do please leave a comment at the end of this post. What does Rosiškio Marinuoti Agurkai mean?

The ingredients list describes, in English fortunately, sweet and sour pickled whole cucumbers. So they should be nice. Sugar and salt are high on the list of ingredients. But something seems out of place. Normally, in a jar of pickles, they throw in lots of spicy and peppery things. This is no exception. But, for some unknown reason, it is mostly carrots. Just look at the bottom of the jar. It it literally packed with little pieces of carrot. One of the worlds least tasty vegetables. Why would they do that?

Rivona Rokiškio Marinuoti Agurkai Pickled Cucumbers ingredients side of label

Also looking into the jar, there’s something unusual about the cucumbers. Normally, they’re small, long and thin. Like a half-smoked cigar. But these look fatter.

Over on the other side of the label, and there are a three other useful bits of information.

Rivona Rokiškio Marinuoti Agurkai Pickled Cucumbers barcode side of label

The first is that this is a gigantic 760g jar. The second is that it comes from somewhere called Rokiškis in Lithuania. That would explain one of the words on the label. The last detail is the web address. The one printed on the label is www.rivona.lt. Their English language version is at http://www.rivona.lt/en/titulinis_en.html. They seem to be an importer of everything except beer.

So, what will they taste like? What will they look like? And should you buy them? Let’s find out.

Rivona Rokiškio Marinuoti Agurkai Pickled Cucumbers open jarRivona Rokiškio Marinuoti Agurkai Pickled Cucumbers on a forkRivona Rokiškio Marinuoti Agurkai Pickled Cucumbers missing a bite

They are one of the most pungent pickles I’ve ever smelt. They smell pickly, so nothing unexpected. They’re also covered it bits of all the things they put in the jar. Just look at the photos. Pieces of carrot, onion and spices are strewn over the pickled cucumbers. The fatness of the cucumbers has an interesting side effect too. They are full of seeds.

What do they taste of? They taste sweet and sour. Neither really dominates. It has the tanginess of vinegar and salt balanced by sweetness. They are not bad at all. The vegetables and spices add something too. Is that carrot I can taste?

Texture is a bit different to normal as well. With them being quite a lot bigger than some pickles, the crunchiness is much more interesting.

What do I like about Rivona Rokiškio Marinuoti Agurkai Pickled Cucumbers? I like the taste. I like tastes of the sweet and sour and the other things they crammed into the jar. And I like the big pickled cucumbers they use.

What don’t I like about Rivona Rokiškio Marinuoti Agurkai Pickled Cucumbers? If you want strong tasting pickles, look elsewhere. Some people might not like the taste of vegetables, either.

To sum up, Rivona Rokiškio Marinuoti Agurkai Pickled Cucumbers are very good. I like them. I wanted something quirky, and these deliver exactly that. Their size and their funny taste make them an excellent snack.

These are much more interesting than the rather generic Wardour and Cypressa and all the other jars you see in corner shops. I like Lithuanian pickles. And I think you should try them too.

Have you tried Rivona Rokiškio Marinuoti Agurkai Pickled Cucumbers? Can you translate anything? Do please leave your opinions, translations, corrections, requests, recommendations and places to buy here in the comments.

Snack Food Review: Mrs Elswood Pickled Whole Sweet Cucumbers

29 January, 2009

THE pickles I’ve tried so far have been disappointing. Cypressa Gherkins were tasteless and Baktat Pickled Gherkins were too salty. Probably because salt was one of the main ingredients. So, to get that tasty, tangy, crunchy pickle, I’ve looked out one that doesn’t have salt as one of the chief ingredients. For this little experiment, I’ve picked out what must be the UK market leader: Mrs Elswood Pickled Whole Sweet Cucumbers.

Mrs Elswood Pickled Whole Sweet Cucumbers jar

I love the “Mrs Elswood” name and logo. She is the archetypal Jewish mother. And for a jar of pickles, that’s perfect and ironic at the same time. A bit like having Welsh Coal Miner brand Welsh Cakes. For the culturally oversensitive, don’t worry, I have ancestry in both of the groups I’ve just offended.

Back to the jar of pickles, and the barcode side of the label reveals some interesting information.

Mrs Elswood Pickled Whole Sweet Cucumbers barcode side of label

Unlike the last two jars I tried, this one is British. It comes from Empire Food Brokers Ltd from Northolt. Wherever that is. They have a web address which is www.empirefoodbrokers.com. They have an annoying, Flash heavy website. So to save you time, the Mrs Elswood homepage is at http://www.empirefoodbrokers.com/main/mrselswood.htm

The other details are the weight. Net weight is 670g. Drained weight is 360g.

The other side is packed with information.

Mrs Elswood Pickled Whole Sweet Cucumbers other side of label

Because these are from here in the UK, you get a big table full of nutritional information. Where you’ll be pleased to see that there is very little fat. Albeit compensated with lots of carbohydrates and sugar.

Over on the ingredients list, the list is cucumbers, acetic acid, sugar, salt, onions, mustard seeds, flavouring, firming agent (calcium chloride) and colour E101. Not many of which I know anything about. There’s a fine selection of other gubbins in there besides the cucumbers. You can see that in the photo. There’s more sugar than salt which will hopefully make them taste better. These aren’t dill cucumbers either.

What are they like? Will thy be tastier, tangier and crunchier than the competition? Should you buy a jar? Time to find out…

Mrs Elswood Pickled Whole Sweet Cucumbers jar open

The first thing you notice is just how big they are compared to the petite dill cucumbers in most other jars. Therein lies the trade-off. Each one makes a little snack in its own right. But you get fewer per jar.

Mrs Elswood Pickled Whole Sweet Cucumbers on a fork

The first thing you notice, the thing that catches you totally off-guard is how sweet they are. Even though I knew that sugar was high up on the ingredients list, I just didn’t expect it to taste sugary. If you’re not used to it you will be surprised because you simply don’t expect to taste sugar on a cucumber out of a water filled jar.

Sugar isn’t the only thing in the taste. There hints of the salt, onions and mustard. All of which makes it a bit more interesting. But mostly it’s about the sugar.

So the tastiness is accounted for. What about tanginess? It has some of that. But the sugary-ness makes tanginess almost irrelevant.

How about crunchiness then? It has some of that too. The cucumbers make a satisfying crunch. But they’re a bit softer than I’d like. Overall, perfectly adequately crunchy is what they are.

What do I like about Mrs Elswood Pickled Whole Sweet Cucumbers? Quite a few things. The unexpected sugariness makes these quirky and edible. Very edible. They would be fantastic in sandwiches and things. In fact, anywhere you want the benefits of pickled cucumber without salt and vinegar. I like how big these cucumbers are. Big enough for your fork or to put on a plate with your lunch. Not so big that you need help to hoist it out of the jar.

Are there any downsides to Mrs Elswood Pickled Whole Sweet Cucumbers? For some reason, they kept reminding me of the pickles you get in subs and burgers. That meant I had a constant urge to eat a Hearty Italian bread roll. Evidently, they use sweet pickles in subs and burgers. Mind you, that’s no bad thing. Some people won’t like it though. Also, there’s that trade-off again. I’ve had two so far and there are only six left.

To conclude, Mrs Elswood Pickled Whole Sweet Cucumbers are the best I’ve tried yet. They have the right size and taste for snacks on their own or as an addition to a sandwich. Which is not something I recommended about the other two. This is well worth buying.

Have you tried Mrs Elswood Pickled Whole Sweet Cucumbers? What did you think? Do please leave your corrections, opinions, requests, recommendations and places to buy here in the comments section.


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