? for Carol (or anyone else who has canned cornichons)

2ajsmamaFebruary 20, 2011

I ordered a French cornichon seed (as well as an American pickling cuke - Little Leaf) and am now looking for recipes. I have The Joy of Pickling, but Linda Z's recipe is for an unprocessed vinegar (not fermented) pickle. It's in this thread, along with some others.


I'd like to know if I could use Linda Z's recipe (as the pirates say, "it's more like guidelines" since she suggests other types of vinegar and herbs/spices), but heat the vinegar and process (how long?) like you would an American pickle? Or will it destroy the flavor and crispness? I've never used Pickle Crisp, plan on buying some next summer, I know it's not "French" but is that a good option (I was going to use it in kosher dills, not sure about bread and butters since I don't know if it affects the taste).

If anyone's got a great cornichon recipe that can be BWB'd, I'd love it! Thanks.

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digdirt2(6b-7a No.Cent. AR HZ8 Sun-35)

Gherkins can be used in most any pickling recipe that you like be that dilled or sweet or B&B although I hazard the guess that tarts and sweet recipes are the most common ones for them. Just be sure to trim the blossom end on them for best results. BWB processing for them is standard if not fermented.

Personally, unlike slices or spears, I have never found the need to use Pickle Crisp when doing gherkins as their compact size pretty much insures crispness. But there is no reason that you couldn't use it if you wished. It doesn't affect taste unless you use way too much.

Besides the recipes Carol provided in the other thread, the BBB has 2 really good recipes for gherkins - Sweet Gherkins and Reduced-Salt Sweet Pickles.


    Bookmark   February 20, 2011 at 8:52PM
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Thanks Dave - I was looking for that sharp French taste, not dill or sweet (though I probably will try these cukes with those recipes too). I was just wondering (if Linda Z's recipe with tarragon is the more "authentic") if raw-packing and processing them would change the taste/texture too much.

I'll try the gherkins w/o PC - never caught a cuke that small this year! I got some calcium Chloride ice melt on my face last month filling stockings with it and tossing them up on the porch roof to DH, it tasted very bitter and I was wondering if PC would change the taste of the pickles?

Also was wondering how long to process the French recipe - won't be "cru" then but have to do something sealed to give to other people, esp. to sell or for shipping (so they don't leak). I was thinking maybe pasteurize (I've used it with Linda Z's Really Quick Dill recipe, but that was quarts). How long for 12oz - pints (wouldn't do larger with these little guys)? Still 30 minutes? Given the small size of the cukes and the small jars, would BWBing for 5 minutes like the Sweet Gherkin recipe be better (crisper)? Or since those had been soaked in vinegar for days first, if I want to use the "Cru" recipe (or the Witty one), should I BWB for 10 minutes?

The link Carol gave says not to process - they'll "turn to mush" Here's the recipe:



2 lbs. garden fresh cornichon cucumbers
3 T. pure coarse sea salt or kosher salt
12 fresh pearl onions, peeled
1 qt. (approx.) white wine vinegar
Black peppercorns
Fresh tarragon sprigs
Mustard seeds (optional)
Fresh grapevine leaves

Gently wash and rub the spines off the cucumbers. They should be only 1-2 inches long. Place them in a colander and toss with the salt. Leave to drain 4 hours (more or less). Rinse and drain.

Sterilize a potful of pint or half-pint jars and their lids by placing them upside down in a pot of water, covering and boiling for 10 minutes. Add a splash of vinegar to the water if your water is hard. (This recipe makes about 4 pints, depending on how densely you pack the cucumbers.)
Bring the vinegar to a vigorous simmer or low boil.

Without touching the inside of the jars, place 1/2-1 teaspoon of peppercorns, half a teaspoon mustard seeds (if using), and large spring of tarragon in the bottom of the jar. Add a fresh washed grape vine leaf if available. (Wild grape leaves work fine; the grape leaves keep the cornichons much crisper.) Add 2-3 pearl onions and cucumbers to within 3/4 inch of the top. Cover with hot vinegar. Wipe the rim and screw down the lid, handling the lid with tongs to remove it from the water. Store in a cool dark place for at least one month before devouring.

Note: The cornichons will still be good--just not as crisp--without the grape leaves. I never process these pickles. Being in pure vinegar, they don't need it, and processing them would turn the tender little cukes to mush.

    Bookmark   February 20, 2011 at 10:03PM
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readinglady(z8 OR)

I have an old recipe for cornichons somwhere around here. Honestly, it's been years since I made them and I don't quite remember what I did, though they were processed and not "mushy." And they were definitely sour, meant as an accompaniment for rich pates.

I have taxes on my list of things to do for today, but I'll try to take some time later and dig through my clippings for the cornichons.


    Bookmark   February 21, 2011 at 2:23PM
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readinglady(z8 OR)

OK, I found it. As I said, I made these years and years ago, so can't vouch for the results (tastes change). As I remember, though, they were pretty much what you would expect of these sour little devils.

All I have is a little clipping of this recipe, which IIRC, came from an old Oregon Extension service newsletter. They often offered canning recipes that were "outside the norm" for the 70's. This document gives processing time as 7 minutes, but frankly with 100% vinegar and those tiny little true cornichons, I'd personally feel comfortable with 5 minutes. But that's my take on it, nothing official. Jars sterilized, of course.

Here it is:

Cornichons (small pickled cucumbers)

Wash 50 cucumbers (1 1/2 - 2 inches maximum) or 1 1/2 quarts. Brush or rub to remove the tiny spines, being careful not to break the delicate skins. Cut off blossom ends.

Place in bowl and mix lightly with 1/4 cup coarse salt and 12 peeled tiny onions. Cover and let stand overnight. Drain the next day and pack with onions into 3 hot, clean pint jars. Add 3 to 4 sprigs of fresh tarragon, 4 to 5 whole black peppers and a small bay leaf to each jar. Heat about 2 cups white wine vinegar to boiling.

Fill each to within 1/4 inch of top. Seal and process in hot water bath for 7 minutes.


    Bookmark   February 22, 2011 at 3:32AM
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Thanks Carol! I'm assuming I can experiment with herbs/spices as Linda Z suggests, the important things to remember are to salt the onions and cukes to draw out the water, to heat the vinegar, and then process (I might do 5 minutes too for friends but if we can ever get the new law on acidified foods figured out I might have to do 10).

I did the US taxes (in pencil, still have to do online) on Valentine's Day, still have to do the state form. Thanks for reminding me (not!).

Might try some PC in some batches, not in others and see if it makes a difference. Just add to the jars, or dissolve in vinegar? But first I have to *grow* the cukes (guess I should have ordered tarragon as well as dill)!

    Bookmark   February 22, 2011 at 8:20PM
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readinglady(z8 OR)

I would dissolve in the vinegar. I think there's a tendency for the PC to settle or not get evenly dispersed if just added to jars. It might give you more leeway re. processing time.

I don't see any reason why you couldn't add different combinations or proportions of herbs to jars and take notes to see which is most appealing after some shelf time. There's also that other recipe I posted some time back for inspiration.

You might try some pink peppercorns. Very pretty and a little different flavor.


    Bookmark   February 23, 2011 at 1:40AM
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Here's an old French family recipe that I've used for years. I'll put it out there for safety comments, but the flavor is superlative. I use cukes no bigger than 2" for best results.


20 Tiny Cornichon Cucumbers
1 Cup Water
1 Cup White Vinegar
1 Tablespoon Fresh Tarragon
1 Teaspoon Salt
1/2 teaspoon Sugar
2 Cloves Garlic, peeled

Gather Cucumbers, scrub them and leave whole. Place in clean jar with a lid. Bring to boil Water, Vinegar, Salt and Sugar in a saucepan. Add the Garlic and Tarragon. Pour over Cucumbers, cover and let stand 12 hours. Keep Refrigerated.

Cornichon are the simplest of pickles to make. This is called the never ending brine, as newly harvested cucumbers may be added when they are ready.


    Bookmark   February 23, 2011 at 5:35PM
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"Fresh tarragon" referred to in these recipes really means to use fresh French Tarragon. You can't grow it from seeds (they don't produce any), you need plants from cuttings that have rooted. The seeds sold are for Russian Tarragon and not anything flavor-wise to French. Check for plants at upcoming spring plant and herb sales, that must say French or you'll be getting Russian, if they just say "Tarragon".

French Tarragon plants are easy to grow and will die back in winter in Southern climes then resprout, but if you are in the Northern US you'll need to nurture them inside over winter so keep them in pots all year. It is well worth the effort to grow your own.

I've made the Joy of Pickling cornichons recipe a few years ago (thank you Linda for a great book). I just love them but I am the only one in the family that does so I have a couple more years' supply. I will be planting the French cukes again this year though for the family's favorite - "sweet baby pickles".


    Bookmark   February 28, 2011 at 7:10AM
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Nancy - is the fresh tarragon they sell in grocery stores French or Russian? I thought that would be what I would use this year since my planting schedule is quite ambitious for the land we actually have prepared. I ordered du Bourbon (sp?) seeds.

I'd love the recipe for sweet babies - is it the NCHFP sweet gherkin recipe?

    Bookmark   February 28, 2011 at 10:35AM
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readinglady(z8 OR)

Even French Tarragon isn't reliable. I spoke to the owner of Blue Heron Herbary (one of my favorite spots) and he spoke to the difficulty of locating true French Tarragon which has the "right" oils.

Here most winters my tarragon will survive outside, so I just take the risk and don't bring it in. From time-to-time I have to replace, but it's worth it to me in reduced trouble.

When I do replace, I don't buy a plant without tasting a leaf or two. I learned my lesson buying one French Tarragon (and it was French, not Russian) which was utterly bland, more like grass than anything else. It's surprising even at a single nursery how much the flavors will vary.

Of course, I can't do that in the grocery store, but so far on those occasions I have bought it, the purchased tarragon tasted fine.


    Bookmark   February 28, 2011 at 2:19PM
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I was recently at Tower Hill Botanic Garden, and saw a jar of pickled "Cocktail Stirrers" - which amount to a mini cucumber, onion and something else preserved on a plastic toothpick. My apologies for my lousy, unfocused, half cut off cell phone photo. So if CT ever passes their pickle law - this could be something totally gourmet to sell at those farmers markets! (I forget the asking price right now - I think it was something like $7.95)

    Bookmark   March 17, 2011 at 8:49PM
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I ended up buying grocery store tarragon today - picked the cornichons yesterday but they didn't sell at market - guess no one pickles. Tried skeip's recipe - I assume that's sitting at room temp for 12 hours, then refrigerate? How long til they're "done"?

    Bookmark   August 4, 2012 at 5:04PM
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