We didn’t have enough small gherkins at any one time to make standard gherkins so I came up with the idea of taking the larger ones and slicing them thinly. I started looking at recipes for dill pickles because they were the only ones that I could find that were sliced, but I don’t really like the taste or colour, so I came up with a combination of spices that I thought tasted a bit like the liquid in standard, store bought gherkins and improved it.

This recipe improves on gherkins. You get finely sliced, spicy gherkins that can be scooped out of the jar and served with almost anything. They are great on biscuits as a topping for cream cheese and go well with a ham sandwich. Being sliced they are easy to serve and are very likely to be eaten before the suggested three week cure time.

I made one batch initially and within a couple of weeks made a huge jar of them. They need to be made a couple of times during the season. I even resorted to buying cucumbers when they were cheap to make into pickles just to meat the demand.

Preparing the Gherkins

The first time I made these I used 5 large gherkins – the maximum size I used had to fit down the tube of the food processor. I would make three times this quantity if I had more, probably only limited by the size of the jar that I could fit into the fridge.

Gherkins Soaking in Brine

Gherkins Soaking in Brine

Day 1

  • Wash the gherkins well and remove about 1 cm from the bossom end (everything I read said that leaving this on causes them to go soft so it came off)
  • Slice with wavy blade in the food processor
  • Pour boiling water over the sliced gherkins and leave for 5 minutes and drain
  • Boil enough brine to cover the drained, sliced gherkins at the ratio 1/4 cup non-iodised salt to 2 litres of water
  • Put a weighted plate over the gherkins to keep submerged, leaving overnight (approx 8 hours)

Day 2

  • Drain the brine off the gherkins and replace it and leave for 24 hours.

Day 3

  • Make up the pickling spice using the proportions below, drain the cucumbers and place into a large jar (or several), and pour the freshly boiled vinegar mix over the gherkins, poking the spice bag into one of the jars. Cover and leave for 6-8 hours.
  • Drain the vinegar mix into the saucepan, add another 1/2 cup sugar and 1/4 cup of vinegar (or more depending on proportion used) and bring back to the boil (with the spice bag in it) and pour over the gherkins again, leaving overnight.

Day 4

  • Again drain the vinegar mix into the saucepan, add another cup sugar and 1/4 cup of vinegar (porportionally) and bring back to the boil (with the spice bag in it) and pour over the gherkins again (check the taste of this mix and adjust – mine was a bit salty so I added more sugar and vinegar).
  • Ensure gherkins are covered with liquid and seal jars. Store for a minumum of three weeks before eating.

Pickling Spice Ingredients

  • 12 peppercorns
  • 1/4 tsp fennel seeds
  • 1/4 tsp mustard seeds
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 1/2 tsp tumeric
  • 1 1/2 cups good white vinegar
  • 1 cup sugar

Tie the seeds in a muslin bag and add to liquids and tumeric, bring to the boil, let steep for a while and reboil before using.


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