I remember seeing a blog post last summer that featured perhaps the most hardcore pickling recipe I have ever come across. It was for cornichons–the roughly-equivalent French version of the Anglo-Indian gherkins. I may be romaticising it slightly but I seem to remember this particular method calling for bathing the cucumbers in pure acid (or at least an acid solution at the minimally-safe point of dillution; citric maybe? acetic?) before they go into a traditional brine. The idea, as I recall, is that the acid makes the pickles tart but also helps shrink the cucumbers down to size.
Aside from finding the actual blog post my intuition is that I might get the most authentic cornichon recipe from either Elizabeth David or Jane Grigson. Any thoughts on this? Anyone know of another source for a really authentic cornichon recipe? The Ball Blue of Preserving only has a recipe for sweet gherkins that uses a cup of sugar per pound of cucumbers–so definitely not what I’m after. Foodie and the Everyman has a pretty kick-ass recipe for gherkins that I may ask to borrow but won’t truly be satisfied unless I can find the recipe that calls for those black PVC, mad-scientist gloves.
I am particularly motivated to try making cornichons for two reasons. First, they go so well with charcuterie that as I embark on more curing adventures like the duck breast prosciutto I want to be able to offer the whole experience without resorting to store-bought. I also get the sense that these smaller pickles would stand up much better to a hot-water canning process, and therefore shelf-storage than the lacto-fermented pickles. It’s a shame to kill the living goodness of a wild pickle by cooking it for preservation and because the cornichons are smaller they go into smaller jars and therefore need a shorter processing time.
Fresh cucumber season is still five months away so there is definitely time. Any help would be greatly appreciated.