Mizeria: Polish Cucumbers in Sour Cream

Bowl of Polish Cucumbers in Sour Cream (Mizeria)

The Spruce / Cara Cormack

Prep: 40 mins
Cook: 0 mins
Chill Time: 60 mins
Total: 100 mins
Servings: 4 servings
Nutrition Facts (per serving)
72 Calories
6g Fat
5g Carbs
1g Protein
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Nutrition Facts
Servings: 4
Amount per serving
Calories 72
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 6g 7%
Saturated Fat 3g 15%
Cholesterol 17mg 6%
Sodium 156mg 7%
Total Carbohydrate 5g 2%
Dietary Fiber 0g 1%
Total Sugars 3g
Protein 1g
Vitamin C 2mg 12%
Calcium 41mg 3%
Iron 0mg 1%
Potassium 142mg 3%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.
(Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate.)

The Polish name for cucumbers in sour cream is mizeria, literally meaning "misery." But this easy and delightful, cooling salad is anything but miserable. It is a great accompaniment to pork, ham, chicken, and fish, or as a tasty dish on a vegetarian buffet. It also fits in nicely at the summer barbecue—just be sure not to let it sit out in the heat for too long.

The name of this dish is attributed to Queen Bona Sforza, an Italian princess who married Polish King Sigismund I in the 16th century. Homesick for her native Italy where cucumbers were common, every time she ate this combination of cucumbers and sour cream it made her cry. Hence the Polish word for "misery," derived from the Latin miseriae, was given to this dish. 

For this recipe, it is best to choose thin cucumbers with small seeds (or the seedless variety) and dress the salad just before serving so the dish stays nice and crisp. Traditionally, vinegar is used in the dressing, but since it may thin the mixture out too much, it is included as an optional ingredient, leaving the choice up to you.

Ingredients

For the Cucumbers:

  • 1 large cucumber, with or without seeds, trimmed and peeled

  • Salt, to taste

For the Dressing:

  • 1/2 cup sour cream

  • 1 teaspoon sugar

  • 2 teaspoons white vinegar, optional

  • 1 tablespoon fresh dill, chopped, plus more for serving

  • Freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Steps to Make It

  1. Gather the ingredients.

    Ingredients for mizeria, Polish cucumbers in sour cream

    The Spruce / Cara Cormack

  2. Slice the cucumber thinly.

    Thinly sliced cucumbers

    The Spruce / Cara Cormack

  3. Place the cucumber slices in a colander and salt the cucumbers liberally.

    Salted cucumber slices in a colander

    The Spruce / Cara Cormack

  4. Allow the salted cucumbers to stand for 30 minutes.

    Salted cucumbers in a colander after 30 minutes

    The Spruce / Cara Cormack

  5. While the cucumbers are sitting, make the dressing. In a small bowl, mix together the sour cream, sugar, vinegar (if using), and fresh dill until well blended.

    Sour cream, sugar, vinegar, and fresh dill in a bowl

    The Spruce / Cara Cormack

  6. Cover the dressing and refrigerate until ready to assemble the salad.

    Sour cream dressing in a bowl, covered with plastic wrap

    The Spruce / Cara Cormack

  7. Pat the cucumbers dry.

    Salted cucumber slices on a paper towel, pat dry

    The Spruce / Cara Cormack

  8. Place in a medium bowl and add the dressing.

    Cucumber slices and sour cream dressing in a bowl

    The Spruce / Cara Cormack

  9. Toss with the cucumber slices.

    Cucumbers mixed together with the sour cream dressing

    The Spruce / Cara Cormack

  10. Season to taste with salt and black pepper.

    Cucumbers and dressing seasoned with salt and pepper

    The Spruce / Cara Cormack

  11. Chill the cucumber salad until very cold.

    Cucumber slices and dressing in a bowl, covered with plastic wrap

    The Spruce / Cara Cormack

  12. Sprinkle with additional dill, if desired, before serving.

    Mizeria, Polish cucumbers in sour cream garnished with dill, on a plate

    The Spruce / Cara Cormack

Tips

  • For a pretty presentation, before peeling the cucumber, run a channel knife or fork down the length of the cucumbers to create shallow grooves.
  • Salting the cucumbers is an important step in this recipe that should not be skipped. Cucumbers hold a lot of water, which is what makes them so refreshing. But the water content also will make the dish they're used in soggy. Salting the vegetable beforehand will pull out all that liquid, leaving nice and crisp pieces of cucumber, perfect for adding to any dish, especially one that includes sour cream. 

Variation

If you are out of sour cream or don't want to use it, replace it with plain, full-fat regular yogurt or Greek yogurt instead. It will still be delicious, but it may need to be thinned out a little bit.

How to Store Polish Cucumbers in Sour Cream

You can make these cucumbers in sour cream the night before you plan to serve them, chilling for several hours or up to overnight. They are really best as soon as they're served, crispy and cold from the fridge. Leftovers will keep for up to two days before they start becoming too watery. Freezing this dish is not ideal.