The Quest for Senf Gherkins Post

Growing up, we'd visit my Great Grandma (who was born and grew up in Denmark in the late 1800's), Aunt and Uncle in their three story brownstone in a large Midwestern city, quite often in the summer when we were off from school.

The house had to have been built prior to the turn of the century with all the amazing, Victorian woodwork and built-in breakfronts so typical of that period when there was an abundance of true craftsmen using everyday materials, ones that today are considered expensive.

We won't go into homehouse-building "craftsmanship" of today (choke, gag). Sorry, just couldn't resist a little editorializing. Anyway, it was truly a cozy nest and had all the nooks, crannies and hidden staircases you'd imagine finding in a house of that period. Parts of it still appear in my dreams, such as the dark, utilitarian back staircase that was walled off from the house. Each floor had a small access door to it but it was rarely used in my time. Perfect for children and their imaginations.

But I digress, which is always a risk when I stroll down memory lane.

On the holidays, all through my childhood, my Grandma and after her, my Aunt would have special "treats", aka appetizers, on the dinner table. One of them, which my brother and I seriously "inhaled" (much to my mother's embarrassment and dismay) was Senf Gherkins. OMG! We loved those things!

Little yellow pickled slices of heaven. Not dill, not gerkins, not watermelon pickles but totally different. The color reminded me of tumeric and they had slight sweet, savory flavor that I've never been able to pin down. Then, in the mid-sixties, they vanished from existence as did all references to them!

For years I've searched for recipes and sources but to no avail. Even my two Danish community cookbooks from the 60's and 70's had nothing! Yesterday, out of the blue, I found a few links...I almost fainted with excitement! It appears they might be of Eastern European or Russian origin. Having these in my Danish Gandma's home was no surprise because for years she took in boarders to make ends meet.

Since I appear to have readers from around the globe (which still amazes me, thank you all), I'm wondering if anyone else has ever heard of Senf Gherkins. I've seen the name spelled a few different ways but essentially it all comes down to the same thing.

There's no picture of them for me to post. The image lives only in my memory. (Oh for Dr. Spock's mind-meld technique.) I would love to learn more about them, find out if anyone still makes them or learn of any recipes you may have. Remember, if English isn't your cup of tea, the internet has an abundance of translation options available to us. I would be so delighted to hear from any of you!
Please help my mommy, she's started calling me "her little Senf Gherkin" and says "thank you for the food" in Danish to me which kind of worries me. I know I'm small, but she looks at me like she could just pop me in her mouth! She even wrote "canning jars" on her grocery list!! I need this search to end successfully or I may be dyed yellow and pickled!
Just kidding............................I think....

I know I have quite a few visitors from Slovenia, Latvia, Ukraine and Russia, just to name a few Eastern European countries (and in no particular order) so I hope to be hearing from some of you too. Any information, history, family stories, links, recipes, etc. may be left in the comment section*.
This appeals to my lifelong love of pen pals and learning about other cultures. I've never tried talking directly through my blog with anyone reading it, (except those dear people who leave comments, again, thank you) and especially not worldwide!!! So I'm so excited and ever-hopeful to hear from you.

*Please, no spam or other nastiness. I really appreciate it! xo



Blogger Joanne said...

Food memories are the best..except when they haunt you and you have no idea how to satisfy the cravings that they induce! I hope you find the recipe for the gherkins!

1/5/12, 4:51 AM  
Blogger Christine said...

Thank you so much!! I'm hoping someone will respond. I have the whole globe to hope for help in this quest! Really it'd be wonderful if anyone responds, regardless of their language or nationality!!! Food IS universal after all.

1/5/12, 6:23 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I too remember senf gherkins from a young age. We bought them in a little Italian shop that made its own spaghetti and sauce. The jars of the treats were arrayed on the counter, unusual in their coloring. The taste was an acquired one, but once it got hold of me, I couldn't get enough of them! I, too, have searched for a recipe, having found one at food.com just before I discovered this post. It looks similar to one I found a while back - but of course I can't locate that version just now.

3/22/12, 12:02 PM  
Blogger Christine said...

Wow! Thanks for letting me know! Great story, didn't have a clue they were Italian. Would have thought I was imagining them at this point except that my brother recalls them too. I'll have to try hunting through the food.com site. If I'm lucky and find something, I'll post it! Thanks so much!!!

3/22/12, 12:17 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

My grandparents were also Danish and got me addicted to senf gherkins at an early age. I have spent the last 50 years searching for them at various German groceries and delis. Most good ones will carry some brand of them. I live in the NW suburbs of Chicago and there is only one store that carries them of which I am aware and that is Kuhn's Deli in Des Plaines. They stock Kuhne Brand and they are excellent. Here are two web sites. The first is Kuhne's and the second I have never tried. Good luck!




9/17/12, 8:48 PM  

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