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Recipe Search: Cornichons

Store-bought gherkins

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.

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4 Comments

  1. mochapj says:

    David, I may be able to help.

    I’ll have to take a look through the stacks, but I’m almost positive I have a recipe specifically for cornichons – I recall trying to decide between it and the gherkins the first year.

    Stay tuned!

  2. foodwithlegs says:

    Thanks, Porsha. I appreciate the search. The reference to “stacks” has me picturing several pickle crocks and canning kettles pressed into out-of-season use as recipe filing cabinets.

  3. [...] and brussels sprouts.  For the cucumbers I already have an end purpose in mind.  I want to make cornichons and have heard that it is very difficult to find cucumbers small enough so I figure the best way [...]

  4. [...] hardcore, pure acid required recipe that I started looking for back in February is, not surprisingly, from Fergus Henderson’s Nose to Tail cookbook.  It doesn’t [...]

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