Making French Cornichons

When we have made enough sweet gherkins for the year, it's time to switch to sour little cornichons: 

These are far less involved than the gherkins because they're a refrigerator pickle. This recipe lasts pretty well forever (unless you lose power for several days and have to dump the contents of fridge, I guess). French cornichons are small and sour and totally delicious with cheese and other charcuterie-type delights. 

The only tricky part about making them is remembering to pick the cucumbers when they're still tiny — the size of your pinkie finger is ideal. In the quart jar I have above, some are more the size I would use for gherkins. For whatever reason, all the really tiny ones are facing the wall in this photo. 

Anyway, I think I've perfected my cornichon recipe, so give it a try if you're up to your ears in cucumbers: It's a great way to slow down your yields for a week or two since you won't have to harvest giant cukes later.

(For 1 pint)

lots of tiny cucumbers, rinsed and with the prickles rubbed off
1 very small onion, peeled and quartered
5 whole peppercorns
1 tiny pinch cayenne flakes
1 sprig fresh tarragon
1 small grape leaf
1/2 Tbs. kosher salt
1/4 cup white wine (I used a Chardonnay)
~1 cup white vinegar

Wash and/or sterilize your pint jar. Place the grape leaf and tarragon sprig on the bottom, then drop in the salt and other spices. Fill the jar to just below the headspace line with baby cucumbers, then pour in the white wine. Fill with enough vinegar to reach the headspace line and cap tightly. Shake vigorously and keep in the fridge.

You can eat them in as early as a week, but all that vinegar (not to mention the touch of alcohol) preserves them almost indefinitely, and the flavors improve with age. We still have just a few little cornichons left from a couple years ago, and they are totally great. In fact, I should polish off the old batch for lunch tomorrow.


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