Making Chlodnik

Chlodnik is a delicious cold Polish borscht variant, sort of an E European gazpacho. It involves young beets with their greens, salt-pickled gherkins, herbs, and several fermented milk products. The exact proportions vary widely. It is extremely refreshing on a hot day. This time I made chlodnik with the following ingredients:

  • Beets
  • A fresh cucumber
  • A bundle of radishes
  • 2 cloves of young garlic
  • Dill
  • A scallion (because I couldn’t find chives)
  • 750ml of žinčica
  • A cup of yogurt
  • A couple tablespoons of sour cream
  • A 400g bag of Albert salt-pickled cucumbers. By salt-pickled, I mean the kind that don’t have any vinegar and require refrigeration, because there’s a live culture in them. Czech rychlokvasky, Polish malosolny ogorek, or actual Jewish, not frikikin ‘kosher style’, pickles. Can make them yourself easily enough.

First I separated the beets from the leaves, peeled the beets, and discarded the excess stem lengths.

I diced the beets and chopped the greens very fine.

I put the beets and greens in a pot, added water to cover, and brought to a simmer (NOT to a boil).

Simmering beets and beet greens

Meanwhile, I prepared a large bowl of water. When the beets were tender, I removed the pot from the stove and immersed it in the bowl of water. The pot and bowl were of such a size that I was able to spin the pot in the bowl, which cooled the pot down very quickly.  (Spinning the pot circulated the water in the bowl, so hot water from next to the pot was quickly exchanged with cooler water).

Spinning the pot in a bowl of cold water

I haven’t bothered with photos for the rest. I coarsely chopped the vegetables and herbs with the chopping attachment to a hand blender, set at lowest power, and added them to the pot. I added the brine from the bag of pickles and the dairy products. The result was not beautiful (though the liquid has a pink color very unusual for food), but after a couple hours of refrigeration it was delicious.


About Zucchini

43 year old American tech writer living in Prague. Eating, cooking, traveling, reading, and tabletop RPGs are my hobbies.
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