Homemade German Mustard Pickles (Senfgurken)

Gherkins, dill, salt and mustard grains
Getty Images/Westend61
Ratings (14)
  • Total: 40 mins
  • Prep: 35 mins
  • Cook: 5 mins
  • Refrigerate: 24 hrs
  • Yield: 2-3 quarts (50 servings)
Nutritional Guidelines (per serving)
275 Calories
1g Fat
66g Carbs
5g Protein
See Full Nutritional Guidelines Hide Full Nutritional Guidelines
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Nutrition Facts
Servings: 2-3 quarts (50 servings)
Amount per serving
Calories 275
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 1g 1%
Saturated Fat 0g 1%
Cholesterol 0mg 0%
Sodium 1238mg 54%
Total Carbohydrate 66g 24%
Dietary Fiber 5g 18%
Protein 5g
Calcium 94mg 7%
*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.)

This recipe for homemade German pickles (senfgurken) with mustard, dill, and other herbs and spices yields the Berlin specialty called spreewälder gurken. Unlike the classic dill pickles found in American grocery stores, these pickles pack peeled chunks of cucumber in a sweet/tangy brine. Removing the peel allows the brine to more quickly penetrate the cucumbers, resulting in an intensely flavored pickle.

Use pickling cucumbers to can these for longer storage or English cucumbers to make refrigerator pickles that keep for a couple of weeks. Canned pickles become quite soft over time, but they keep for up to a year stored on a cool, dark shelf. This recipe makes good use of a farmer's market haul or the bounty from your backyard garden. And you need not limit yourself to cucumbers; you can pickle zucchini, carrots, beans, asparagus, and snap or snow pea pods in the same brine.

Ingredients

  • 4 1/2 pounds pickling or English cucumbers
  • 1 yellow onion (sliced)
  • 4 fresh dill weed sprigs
  • 2 cups white wine vinegar
  • 2 cups water
  • 2 1/2 cups sugar
  • 1 tablespoon yellow mustard seed
  • juniper berries
  • 1/2 teaspoon coriander seeds
  • 1/2 teaspoon black peppercorns
  • 1/4 teaspoon caraway seeds
  • 1/4 teaspoon dill seed
  • 1/2 teaspoon allspice berries
  • 1 bay leaf (crumbled)
  • 4 garlic cloves
  • 1/8 teaspoon ginger (powdered)
  • 2 tablespoons salt

Steps to Make It

  1. Peel the cucumbers, cut them in half lengthwise, scrape out the seeds, and cut them into 1/2-inch chunks.

  2. Layer the cucumber chunks in two to three sterilized quart canning jars with the sliced onion and fresh dill sprigs.

  3. In a large nonreactive (no aluminum) saucepan, bring the white wine vinegar, water, sugar, and remaining herbs and spices to a boil. Cook for 3 minutes or until the sugar and salt dissolve.

  4. Pour the hot brine over the cucumbers to within 1/4 inch of the jar rim. Screw the caps on tightly and allow the jars to cool completely. Store them in the refrigerator for up to a few weeks.

Notes

Take the time to sterilize your canning jars even for refrigerator pickles you plan to consume within a short time. You can make the process easy by running clean jars and lids through a hot dishwasher cycle without soap or other items, or you can boil the empty jars and lids in a large canning pot for 15 minutes. The USDA recommends the water bath method especially before canning produce for long-term storage.

For a more rustic presentation and increasingly stronger flavor over time, retain the herbs and spices in the brine when you pour it into the jars. For a slightly more refined pickle and more stable flavor, strain the brine before adding it to the jars.

Enjoy the pickles after 24 hours or let the flavors further develop for a more robust taste.