Cornichons à la Française
Everyone interested in French cuisine has, at one time or another, bought a jar of these excellent tiny pickled cucumbers. If you can find baby pickling cucumbers, they are as easy to make as boiling an egg.
I was delighted to discover these sweet little one pound packages of crispy cucumbers at our marvelous local grocery store, Budget Foods. They’re grown up the valley in Langley, B.C. As soon as I saw them I thought CORNICHONS! My good gardening friend Dellis and I had been discussing this very treat.
They should average about 1 1/2 inches and should be freshly picked and slightly underripe; try to get them with a tiny bit of the stem still attached. Some of the cucumbers I bought were a little longer than this but they will still work.
You should ideally have a stoneware crock in which to store them, but a Mason jar will also do. If you are going to keep the pickles for a long time , it is a good idea to put a few fresh grape leaves into the jar to keep the pickles crisp.
To make one jar:
1 pound baby pickling cucumbers, scrubbed, soaked overnight in heavily salted water, drained and dried.
About 3-4 cups of white wine vinegar
Pack the cucumbers neatly and tightly into the jar. To determine how much vinegar is needed, pour it into the jar to about 1 inch above the top of the cucumbers. Now, pour off the vinegar into a large enameled, tinned or stainless-steel pan, and bring to a boil. Add an extra 1/2 cup of vinegar. At once, pour the vinegar, still at a boil, over the cucumbers in the jar and let the cucumbers soak for a full 24 hours.
Again, pour off the vinegar into the pan, bring it back to a boil, add an extra 1/2 cup of fresh vinegar, then pour the boiling vinegar over the cucumbers, cover, and let them soak for another 24 hours. Repeat exactly the same operation for the third time. This time, however, let the cucumbers soak, covered, in a cool place for six weeks. Take out the pickles as you need them. Always make sure that the remaining pickles are covered by liquid. Add more vinegar at any time, as necessary.
Now make a paté to go with your pickles. Enjoy!