I've already put up green beans, a whole slew of strawberry items, and some peach jam that I found in the freezer when our fridge went kaput. I've got enough pickles left over from previous summer canning binges to last at least another year. Still on the docket for this fall are dilly beans, sauerkraut, preserved grape leaves, applesauce, tomatoes, and cornichons.
Cornichons are French pickles traditionally made with tarragon instead of dill. Maybe you're seen the above jar at the grocery store. They run about $8 a pint, if you can even find them.
Pâté, cheese plates, raclette, and fondu would each be incomplete, naked even, without cornichons. My French host mother once made a delicious dish of skate with cornichons in a brown butter sauce. (Here's Dorie Greenspan's version. You could use any delicate white fish in lieu of skate... trout, perhaps?)
Unsatisfied with the cornichons recipes I was finding on google.com, I put my French degree to work and turned to google.fr. I found this:
Pour 1 bocal d'un litre : essuyer les cornichons, les mettre dans le bocal avec 1 verre de vin blanc sec, quelques grains de poivre, de coriandre, 1 clou de girofle, 1 brin d'estragon, 3 morceaux de sucre. Compléter avec du vinaigre d'alcool.
The ingredients listed are vinegar, white wine, peppercorns, coriander, cloves, tarragon, and sugar. That sounds more like it!
|It's a pretty drive to and in the Puyallup Valley.|
|I could smell this field of dill before I saw it!|
I went back first thing this morning to assure that I had my pick of the harvest. Duris is the only place in the South Sound that I know of which sells graded pickling cucumbers. You can see the grading process here.
Tarragon was somewhat easier. I pestered my boss for some. He wasn't sure if he had any, then I went on vacation for a few days. A quick facebook plea garnered a response from a friend who runs a community garden, telling me I was welcome to some of theirs. The tricky part there was to find it.
|Kaelen "helped" me look for the tarragon.|
|It took me a while to find it tucked away. Can you spot it?|
Here's my recipe, this time in English and with measurements and directions.
Cornichons - makes 3 pints
50 extra small cucumbers, scrubbed
2 cups + 2 cups white vinegar
1/8 cup + 1/3 cup pickling salt
2 1/4 tsp white sugar
3 tsp light mustard seeds
2 1/4 tsp white sugar
1.5 tsp dark mustard seeds
1.5 tsp peppercorns
6 whole cloves
3 bay leaves
3 sprigs tarragon
3 bay leaves
1 cup white wine
3 1-pint jars
OPTIONAL: pearl onions, peeled (I used cippolini because that's what I could find.)
Into each pint jar, put 3/4 tsp sugar, 1 tsp light mustard seeds, 1/2 tsp dark mustard seeds, 1/2 tsp peppercorns, 2 cloves, 1 bay leaf, and 1 tarragon sprig. Set aside.
Place the cucumbers in a large bowl. Bring 2 cups vinegar and 1/8 cup pickling salt to a boil. Mix until the salt is dissolved, then pour over the cucumbers. Allow to sit for 2-8 hours, then rinse the cucumbers and discard the brine. (This step helps ensure a crunchy pickle.)
Bring the remaining 2 cups vinegar, white wine, and 1/3 cup salt to a boil. Stir until salt dissolves.
Divide the cucumbers evenly between the 3 pint jars, leaving 1/2" headspace if canning. Toss in the onions if you're doing them. Top off the jars with the fresh vinegar-wine brine.
Process like gherkins to make shelf stable or store them in the fridge.
Store the pickles in a cool, dark place for 3-4 weeks before digging in.