Classic French Cornichon Pickles

Cornichons
Cornichons.

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Ratings (22)
  • Total: 20 mins
  • Prep: 5 mins
  • Cook: 15 mins
  • Yield: Serves 12 to 16
Nutritional Guidelines (per serving)
29 Calories
0g Fat
6g Carbs
1g Protein
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Nutrition Facts
Servings: Serves 12 to 16
Amount per serving
Calories 29
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 0g 0%
Saturated Fat 0g 0%
Cholesterol 0mg 0%
Sodium 3542mg 154%
Total Carbohydrate 6g 2%
Dietary Fiber 1g 3%
Protein 1g
Calcium 34mg 3%
*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 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—bumpier and crisper. Cornichons are made from a few different types of the 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.

Ingredients

  • 2 pounds fin de meaux cucumbers (2-inches long is best, or pickling cucumbers cut into 1/2-inch spears)
  • 1/2 cup kosher salt. divided
  • 2 cups white distilled 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 the 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.

  4. Rinse the cucumbers thoroughly.

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

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

  7. Divide the onion, garlic, chopped dill, peppercorns, cloves, and bay leaves between the 2 sterilized jars.

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

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

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

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

  12. Enjoy!

Tips

  • Cucumber varieties to use: One of the more popular types of cucumbers used for cornichons are the fin de meaux cucumbers, but a variety called Parisienne cornichon de Bourbonne cucumbers is also commonly used.
  • 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. Obviously, you will have to have quite a bit of patience 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. 
  • Cornichons used in 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.
  • Cornichons used in 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. 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.