Classic French Cornichon Pickles

Cornichons in a bowl

IgorGolovnov / Getty Images

Prep: 5 mins
Cook: 15 mins
Salt Time: 90 mins
Total: 110 mins
Servings: 12 to 16 servings
Nutritional Guidelines (per serving)
16 Calories
0g Fat
2g Carbs
0g Protein
See Full Nutritional Guidelines Hide Full Nutritional Guidelines
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Nutrition Facts
Servings: 12 to 16
Amount per serving
Calories 16
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 0g 0%
Saturated Fat 0g 0%
Cholesterol 0mg 0%
Sodium 3540mg 154%
Total Carbohydrate 2g 1%
Dietary Fiber 0g 1%
Total Sugars 1g
Protein 0g
Vitamin C 2mg 9%
Calcium 17mg 1%
Iron 0mg 1%
Potassium 91mg 2%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.
(Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate.)

Pickles are not a huge part of French cooking, but cornichons certainly have their role alongside pates and terrines, raclettes and meats, and cheese and charcuterie plates. French cornichons are tiny pickles—about the size of your pinky finger—and have a bumpy exterior. The taste is tart, and the texture is crunchy. These powerful little cucumber cousins are perfect when served on appetizer platters with smoked meat and fish and added to deviled eggs or a sandwich.

In England, these small pickles are called gherkins. Gherkins are a close relative to the cucumber plant, but are bumpier and crisper. Cornichons are made from a few different types of gherkin plant. Although finding the right kind of cucumber in the U.S. may be challenging, the recipe itself is simple to make. Just keep in mind, cornichons will need to sit after canning for 3 to 4 weeks.

One of the more popular types of cucumbers used for cornichons is the fin de meaux cucumber. A variety called Parisienne cornichon de Bourbonne cucumbers is also commonly used. You can also use pickling cucumbers cut into 1/2-inch spears.

Ingredients

  • 2 pounds fin de meaux cucumbers (2 inches long is best)

  • 1/2 cup kosher salt, divided

  • 2 cups distilled white vinegar

  • 2 cups water

  • 1 tablespoon white onion, finely chopped

  • 1 clove garlic, peeled and halved

  • 1 teaspoon fresh dill, chopped

  • 1 1/2 teaspoons black peppercorns

  • 2 cloves

  • 2 bay leaves

Steps to Make It

  1. Gather the ingredients.

  2. In a large bowl, toss the cucumbers in 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons of salt.

  3. Arrange the cucumbers in a single layer on paper towels or clean kitchen towels to allow the salt to draw the moisture out of the cucumbers. Let sit for 90 minutes, then rinse the cucumbers thoroughly.

  4. Sterilize two 1-pint jars, along with their lids and rings, and keep them hot until ready to fill with the pickling mixture.

  5. In a medium, non-reactive saucepan over medium-high heat, bring the vinegar, water, and remaining 2 tablespoons of salt to a boil.

  6. Divide the onion, garlic, dill, peppercorns, cloves, and bay leaves between the two sterilized jars.

  7. Pack the cucumbers into the jars, leaving 1/2-inch of headspace.

  8. Fill the jars with the hot vinegar mixture, leaving 1/4-inch headspace from the top of the jars.

  9. Tap the jars to remove any air bubbles, cap the jars, and process them for 10 minutes in a boiling-water canner.

  10. Cool the jars and store them in a cool, dark place for at least 3 to 4 weeks before opening.

Tips

  • Grow your own gherkins: If you are having trouble finding the French varieties, but are determined to make authentic cornichons, you can buy the seeds and grow them yourself. Plan ahead, as this method will take much longer than the 3- to 4-week canning time. If you have the right growing conditions, think about adding 10 weeks to the process if you grow your own.
  • If you do not have a canner: Place the jars into a large pot of water, bring to the boil for 10 minutes, switch off the heat, and then carefully remove the jars from the water. 

How to Store Cornichons

Unopened, cornichons will keep for at least a year. Once opened and refrigerated, they will last many months.

How to Use Cornichons

Cornichons can be used in a variety of ways.

  • Sauces: Cornichons have their place in sauces such as tartar sauce, remoulade sauce, and charcutiere sauce, a French finishing sauce often used with meat dishes.
  • Main dishes: You will also find this little pickle featured in certain regional dishes like Southern-style deviled eggs, and making an unexpected but welcome appearance in a steak salad recipe.
  • Culinary specialties: Cornichons also are a part of German cuisine and appear in two German specialties: German pasta salad is a typical party dish featuring bologna, cheese, and eggs with a creamy dressing, and in German beef rouladen, thin slices of beef are rolled around a mixture of cornichon, mustard, onion, and bacon.

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