This recipe is easy and allows you to process cucumbers, a jar full at a time, so that you don’t have to wait until you have a large quantity. If you have lots you can harvest them while they are tiny, and if not, if perhaps it’s a bad year for cucumbers, then wait until they grow a little, or do both at the same time to ensure all the gaps in the are filled.
Gherkins are a type of cucumber and there are several varieties to choose from. You can pickle any cucumber but the gherkin types are slightly harder and less juicy, perfect for taking on vinegar and spices, and for keeping their texture. You can eat gherkin cucumbers raw like any other though and they are very crunchy, perhaps too crunchy for some, and I like the ones leftover from salting.
They are also good for adding to soups and stews.
My favourite variety (at the moment) is ‘Restina’.
Gherkins growing nicely. I grow them up mesh, or stock fencing, so that the plant has something to climb and then the cucumbers become increasingly easy to pick, and look spectacular as a bonus.
How To Pickle Your Gherkins
1 – Top and tail your gherkins, sprinkle with salt, then leave for no longer than 24 hours. The salt will draw out moisture and flavour the gherkin, making it slightly salty, and beginning the preserving process. Any leftover gherkins will be good to eat raw but if you leave the gherkins in salt for more than 24 hours they will become too salty.
A small harvest cleaned and sprinkled with salt for 24 hours (or less).
The salt starts the preservation process and draws out moisture
2 – Pack the gherkins loosely into jars of your choice, big, small or wide. The gherkins will expand slightly in the jars and so if you pack them too tightly then you’ll have problems getting them out, as I found out the first time I did pickled gherkins.
3 – Pour boiling vinegar (spiced or not) of your choice into the jars ensuring the gherkins are covered. For safe preservation you need a vinegar of at least 5% acidity. Some vinegars are of a lower acidity because they made for flavouring fresh pickles, not preservation.
4 – Seal the jars and keep for at least a month before eating. I give most of mine away as presents (as part of a Christmas ‘hamper’), whether they like it or not..
I sometimes add pickled nasturtium seeds, or pickled garlic bulbs, to fill the gaps, and to make the preserve unique.