Sunday, August 15, 2010

French Pickles

My canning frenzy continues! One of my all time favorite pickles in the world is the sour little French Cornichon. Somehow these little sour wonders became Gherkins (not to be mistaken with gurkhas - thank you Joanna Lumley!) in America which are sweet and bear little to no resemblance to their French forefathers.

I never thought of making French Pickles as they are called in Chris Bryant's recipe in Ashley English's book Canning and Preserving because I'd never seen the traditional itsy bitsy little Kirby's required. Turns out (duh) that any Kirby can be imbued with the wonderful Tarragon sourness of a Cornichon, and Chris's recipe gave me the courage to go ahead and try to make a batch myself. Size be damned! This is American God Damn it: everything is bigger here!

These pickles are brined in salt water for 2 days before adding the vinegar and canning them.

The first day you douse your prepped Kirby's and some garlic in hot water and let them sit uncovered over night. In the morning your entire apartment is redolent of cucumber, it's like living in a bottle of Kiehl's face cream.

On the second day you add pearl onions. I added both white and purple and added about a cup more then the recipe called for (I see some Gibsons in my future!).
Then you add 1/3 of a cup of canning salt, cover and let sit over night. Repeat the next night then you are ready to add the vinegar, spices and Tarragon branch and get canning.

2 of my 8 jars did not process properly, the lids are suppose to create a vacuum and suck in the little middle part of the lid, for some reason 2 of mine didn't. If this happens to you the best thing to do is just put them in the fridge and eat them over the next couple of weeks. Don't try and process them again, it's a lot of bother and you risk limp un-crunchy pickles (yuck).

Next up Nectarine Chutney!

For this and more recipes pick up a copy of Ashley English's Canning and Preserving.


Chris-Skip in AVL said...

Thanks for trying my recipe! I feel so honored.

These are great photos, the how-tos are very instructive. And your "money shot" looks amazing with such beautifully arranged tarragon, onions, garlic and cukes—and how plump and gorgeous they came out.

That brining process really makes crisper pickles--seems counter intuitive, but there is a reason people did pickles that way before the 50s when all the recipes migrated toward "Quick Pickles."

The pickle juice is lovely in dressings, and martinis, I think.

One thing I've discovered, when you take out the first couple pickles the juice sometimes needs replenishing with some wine vinegar/water and salt.



Anonymous said...

hi mark.
as we were having a discussion on my blog about pickles, Chris sent me over to check out your pickle post. i am inspired... nothing better than the satisfaction of finishing a three day process in my opinion (unless its the two weeks of carbonation required for gingerbeer!)
i'm a fellow locavore new yorker so its fun to have found your blog!

Urban Food Guy said...

Welcome Talia! I know what you mean about Gingerbeer I was making probiotic gingerbeer for a while - love the way it tastes, but they take a certain commitment! I still want to try rootbeer, but not sure I'm up for the challenge!

Paige Gilchrist said...

Just last week, I opened the can of French pickles Chris gave me last Christmas (can you believe I resisted this long?). They're addictive -- and were the appetizer hit of the dinner party.


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