The pickled gherkin is the condiment of choice to enhance the flavour of food. With their crunchy texture and tangy taste, they are very popular with chefs who use them in restnts to accompany gourmet dishes and appetizers. For home-cooked meals, the hostess of the house or the cook will especially use them to enhance a variety of other inauragredients and accommodate them with different dishes.

It is in summer that gherkins abound in vegetable markets because this is the time period favourable to their harvest. Of course, it is always possible to find them throughout the year, thanks to imported products. Still, take advantage of this hot season to prepare pickle-based canned food. When buying, choose among those of which the size is that of a finger. During preparation, remove the stems if they are present. Wash the vegetables with cold water, while slightly brushing them in order to remove the small black dots and dust residues before letting them drain. Meanwhile, prepare jars for canning. These must necessarily be airtight containers. Wash them preferably with boiling water, then dry them thoroughly. Even if the jars are new, always take the time to clean them, especially the inner lid which can sometimes be covered with dust. The preparation of canned gherkins systematically involves the use of vinegar. Nevertheless, it is quite simple, you just need to choose a recipe and follow the instructions closely. For preservation, use 8% abv unflavoured spirit vinegar (white vinegar) and count in about 2 pints of vinegar (1 L) per 2.2 lbs (1 kg) of pickles.

Cold pickled gherkins

For this recipe, you need 2.2 lbs (1 kg) of pickles, 10 peeled pearl onions, 1 small finely sliced seedless red pepper, 2 tarragon sprigs, a burst of garlic, 1 clove, 1 teaspoon of mustard seeds , 1 teaspoon of black peppercorns, 2 pints (1 litre) of white wine vinegar and two handfuls of coarse salt. After washing and drying the gherkins, put them in a large dish where they will be disgorged overnight by the coarse salt. The next day, put them in a bowl of cold water, to which a small glass of white wine vinegar will be added. Then, drain the gherkins and dry them. Use large jars with a 2-pint (1 L) capacity and put in all the ingredients, alternating pickles and onions to achieve a more aesthetic appearance. Pour white wine vinegar on the whole so as to cover all ingredients and let everything marinate. The gherkins will thus be able to be stored for a few months in a cool place, provided that the jars have not been opened.

Gherkins, pickled onions and shallots

For the following recipe, you need 2.2 lbs (1 kg) of cucumbers, 3.5 oz (100 g) onions, 2.8 oz (80 g) shallots, 0.1 oz (3 g) of black pepper, 1.06 oz (30 g) of salt and 2 pints (1 litre) of white vinegar. Start by washing the gherkins under running water, drain them with paper towels and disgorge them with coarse salt for about 4 h. Once that time is elapsed, rinse them, drain them and dry them well. Peel the onions and shallots before slicing the onions and cutting the shallots into thin strips. Use jars that have a capacity of 1 pint (0.5 litres) and pour in all the ingredients, ensuring that the layers of onions and the layers of shallots are alternatively arranged. Then, pour the vinegar as to completely cover the whole. With the jar tightly closed, preservation can last up to three months.

Hot pickled gherkins

To make this recipe, you need 4.4 lbs (2 kg) of pickles, two heads of garlic, 6 shallots, 1 teaspoon of black peppercorns, 2 tablespoons of coarse salt, a few tarragon sprigs and 3.5 pints (2 litres) of white vinegar . Wash the gherkins under running water, drain them and wipe them so they are completely dry. Meanwhile, peel the garlic and shallots and cut large pieces in half. Next, heat white vinegar in a suitable container until it boils, then remove it from the heat and pour in all the ingredients. Cover the container and let everything stand overnight. The next day, transfer everything in the jars, making sure to alternate the layers of gherkins with the layers of garlic and shallots for an aesthetic appearance. Cover the whole well with the cool vinegar. The gherkins will not loose their colour and will remain crisp. They will be ready to eat after 2 weeks of maceration.

Sweet and sour gherkins

For this recipe, use 4.4 lbs (2 kg) of larger gherkins, a few sprigs of dill and fennel, a few tarragon leaves, 3 cloves, 1 small red pepper, 2 pints (1 L) of vinegar, 2 pints (1 L) of dry white wine, 4 pints (2 litres) of water, 3.2 ounces (100 g) of sugar and 5.3 oz (150 g) of salt. Start by washing the gherkins. Prepare a brine by boiling water and salt for 10 min. Pour it over the gherkins and let them macerate for 12 h. Drain the gherkins, rinse them with cold water and dry them well. Put them in jars and add dill, fennel, tarragon, cloves and the chopped red pepper. Meanwhile, boil the vinegar, white wine and sugar in another receptacle. Pour the liquid over all the ingredients contained in the jars and let everything cool before closing. The gherkins will be ready to eat after 10 days of maceration and can be stored for six months in the fridge.

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Published in Garden cooking by Alexander on 29 Jul 2011