“cornichons” / cucumber pickles (lacto-fermented)

DSC_0664I came home from being away for 3 weeks in Canada to a very advanced veggie garden !  Good news, right ?  Well, except for the apparent cucumber plant, one of many “surprise” varieties of plants that my dear friend Carol Reid-Gaillard gave me.  I found myself with some plants that turned out to be a “pickling cuke” variety.  If you have every grown these you will know that the fruit pop out every other day like little firecrackers.  If you miss the perfect size you have BIG bitter cucumbers.

DSC_0668So in my jet-lagged state, I was ready to throw in the towel until I thought of the lovely Marie who has many pickling ideas up her sleeve.  I proceeded to leave little parcels on her doorstep and she has successfully pickled the little bumpy creatures.

I am know rested, with a bit more time and head space, so ready to give this a go myself ….  I’ve decided to go the “lacto-fermentation” route for the added health benefits (Kathleen Garnett writes an interesting article about this).  I believe that the original Jewish Dill Pickle was made this way.

Well it couldn’t have been easier !

DSC_0674You will need:

  • pickling or small cucumbers (scrubbed well if prickly)
  • a brine made using 2 Tablespoons of sea salt to 1 liter of water
  • fresh grape, horseradish or oak leaves (I used grape and horseradish), which help keep the cukes crisp
  • a mixture of herbs and spices that you think sound good for pickles !  I used mustard seeds, fresh garlic cloves, fresh ginger slices, black peppercorns, fresh dill seeds and flowers and cracked coriander seeds.
  • a mason jar and lid.
  • something that just fits inside the mason jar, like a little plate, to keep the fruit submerged in the brine.  A perfect fit for me was a “anti-remonte lait” which is a little glass disc used to place in a pan of milk to avoid overflowing when it comes to a boil !  A genius invention that we use when making yoghurt.

DSC_0671So cut up those cukes however you fancy.  Mine where all different sizes so I didn’t even try to stand them all up beautifully in the jar.  Add your spices and herbs to the bottom of the jar, pack in the cucumbers with the grape / horseradish leaves tucked in (maybe 3 or 4 per jar).  Pour over your brine to cover the fruit and weigh them down to keep them under the liquid.  Close the lid tightly and place in a cool place (inferior to 26° C is good) for at least 3 or 4 days.

DSC_0676Check on your jars everyday, squashing down the fruit a bit.  After a few days, you could try tasting the pickles and when they are to your liking, pop them in the fridge and they are ready to eat.

I am absolutely no expert on this method, and will let you know how they turn out 😉  For some really in-depth information on the fermentation of vegetable and fruit Sandor Katz is your man…..

DSC_0677Feeling pretty happy with my little jar of pickles today 🙂

UPDATE 30 July 2015 : Happy to announce that 4 days later this pickles are REALLY GOOD and going into the fridge (where I suspect they will not last long).  Everyone in the family loves them, my “not so sure at first” kids included.  They smell and taste like great quality NYC Deli style pickles….  Wow, I’m off to the garden to pick more little cucumbers to make a few more jars ….

UPDATE 31 July 2015:  2nd batch …..  I changed the spices a bit to fresh dill flowers, fresh garlic and ginger, cracked black peppercorns and coriander seeds, yellow mustard seeds, Sichuan peppercorns and fennel seeds.

Bon appetît !

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2 thoughts on ““cornichons” / cucumber pickles (lacto-fermented)

  1. Fantastic write-up Leanne. You’re lucky you can grow these cucumbers and salt pickle them fresh. This variety of cucumbers are very hard to come by in Belgium since there is no market for them anymore and my garden won’t allow me to grow enough of them to pickle! Although in North America they are known as Jewish Dill Pickles they are still common in Poland and other eastern European countries where they still salt pickle cucumbers and many other vegetables – onions, beans, tomatoes etc. In Germany, Sweden and in France they typically pickle gherkins in a sweet-sour vinegar medium. If you go down the viengar route, which I actually prefer, they are not full of the live beneficial bacteria but they will still retain many of the other nutrients present in raw cucumbers – so long as they haven’t been pasteurised or put in a high-heat water bath.

    1. Thanks for your comment Kathleen ! A friend has made a “vinegar / sugar” version, so in a few weeks, we’ll have a TASTE TEST and I’ll let you know which I prefer !

      I’ve got my eyes on some recipes for Mexican pickles next…. Loads of Jalepenos in the garden !

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