greenola celebrates tradition

Geenola Organic

Since long before the invention of the refrigerator, each culture has practiced its own techniques and recipes for food preservation. For thousands of years pickling, fermenting, drying, salting, smoking and canning have all served as invaluable methods of keeping foods that would otherwise spoil. Today such products continue to contribute greatly towards the dishes they are served with (or become a part of) by adding flavours, aromas, textures and colours, as well as cultural and regional identity. Just think…..all that mango chutney brings to a fresh baked samosa, sauerkraut to a Bratwurst sausage, kimchi to a carnivorous Korean grill.....even tomato ketchup to the beloved French frie.

Though I consider myself to be a culturally diverse eater, I’d never experienced much in the way of Polish food until my friend, Agata Kosinski, introduced me to the line of organic pickles that make up her family’s nine year old food import business. Greenola is entirely imported from Poland where, up until the end of Communism in 1989, agricultural practices dictated small, collective farm holdings (average 7 hectares) and agricultural production made up a whopping 40% of Poland’s GNP (gross national product). Keep in mind that this had always been an entirely organic process. Under the communist regime, Poland simply did not have the means to incorporate industrialized food growing practices. What, at the time, seemed backward and inefficient, today allows for easy certification from the EU (European Union) as the farmland has never been anything but organic. Supporting today’s Polish farmers not only helps them maintain organic land, it also allows them to make their living while growing healthy and sustainable products that, in turn, help to keep their cultural heritage alive.

Greenola’s organic product line includes dill pickles, sliced or whole pickled beets (beets are the top sellers), traditional sauerkraut as well as sauerkraut with carrots (for extra sweetness and less ‘bite’). The Kosinski family moved to Canada from Poland in 1984, when Agata was just 10 years old. These days her father returns to Poland once a year to source new products. Planned additions to the line include roasted peppers, horseradish, pickled mushrooms, a cranberry preserve and a line of naturally sweetened juices. Greenola products can be found at Thrifty’s and Super Valu, as well as some IGAs and Commercial Drive shops.

Chlodnik Litewski (Cold Beet Soup)
Chlodnik (Cold Beet Soup)

This chilled summer soup is a refreshing traditional dish that is quick and easy to prepare (and pretty to serve). Make it 4-12 hours ahead of time and chill in the fridge, allowing the flavours to combine. Try it served with a really fresh slice of dark rye bread and a wedge of cheese that isn't afraid to stand up and be noticed. As the Polish would say, "Jedzcie, pijcie i popuszczajcie pasa"... "Eat, drink and loosen your belt".

1 ½ c buttermilk
2 tbsp sour cream mixed with 1 tbsp cold water
1/2 cucumber, quartered and sliced thin
4 medium radishes, halved and finely sliced
1 ¼ c cubed, sliced Greenola pickled beets
1 green onion, thinly sliced
2 hard-boiled eggs, sliced
2 tbsp fresh dill, plus extra for garnish
S & P to taste

Mix the buttermilk and sour cream mixture in a bowl. Stir in the cucumber, radishes, beets, green onion, dill, salt & pepper. Leave in the fridge for 4-12 hours in the fridge, allowing the flavours to combine. Serve chilled, garnished with the hard boiled eggs and a sprig of dill. Serves 4.


Anonymous said...

I have to say that Polish (and Eastern European food in general) wouldn't exactly be my choice for my last meal, and I've eaten quite a bit of it.

That said, you made it look pretty good. And beets in any form are great - and sadly underrated.

More importantly, thanks a million for the granola. So good.

diane thompson said...

The Polish recipes Agata told me about sounded sooo good. I may have to do another post that explores them....maybe in the fall, when heartier, more substantial food is most appealing.

Glad you like the granola.