An incredibly useful thing to have up your sleeve. After many failures in the restaurant at pickling gherkins, I was shown the way by Anna Rottman, a friend of my wife’s from New Zealand.
Finally! It feels like forever since I last updated, but tonight it is going to happen. The best part is that this recipe requires the most dangerous ingredient I’ve ever used in the kitchen. Forget knives, forget fire.
First though, we needed some tiny cucumbers. My wife and I hit the farmer’s market along with our trusty Corgi to wrangle up a few. Victorious, we returned home and I got busy right after walking in the door.
A quick scrubbing and the cucumbers were ready to be salted. I combined all of the little gourds with a hefty amount of coarse sea salt and left them to sit for three hours, every so often tossing them to redistribute the salt.
Once the proper amount of time had elapsed I shook all of the salt off and covered the cucumbers with boiling water for about five minutes and then drained.
While the cucumbers sat in their bath, my wife was boiling more water to sterilize the jars needed for the pickling process.
Meanwhile I was running around the kitchen grabbing the rest of the needed ingredients, including this blend of pickling spices…
… and this bottle of pure Acetic acid. I’m sure that you took notice of the various warnings on the front of the bottle, but let me show you just a sample of what terrifying cautions lie on the other side.
Inhalation of concentrated vapors may cause serious damage to the lining of the nose, throat, and lungs.
Swallowing can cause severe injury leading to death.
Ingestion of as little as 1.0 ml has resulted in a perforation of the esophagus.
I hit the high points, but I’m sure you get the gist of the rest of the warnings. As intimated above, this recipe is hands down the most dangerous one in the book. I think it’s the most dangerous recipe in any of my cook books, not including the one that talks about fugu preparation.
The small amount of acid I needed was diluted with A LOT of water in a stainless steel pot, along with A LOT of sugar. The whole thing was brought up to a boil until the sugar had completely melted away.
The cucumbers were stuffed into the sterilized jars along with some hefty pinches of pickling spices. Make special note of exactly how full the jars are.
With a care that I didn’t know was possible, I filled each jar to the brim with the acid and sugar mixture, and then sealing them. We set the jars in a cool, dark place for a month, hoping that the acid had lost enough potency to not eat through the glass.
I know it’s a little tough to see, but after one month, the gherkins had shrunk down significantly. I’m talking a 75% reduction in size, which I assume is all due to the effects of the acetic acid. It’s a bit frustrating actually, I keep wishing that I could stuff the jars with more cucumbers to take up that empty space.
And here they are in all their pickled, gherkin glory. As I took them out of the jar, they smelled sweet and not dangerous at all. A small bite and a few minutes of waiting confirmed that no holes were punched through my esophagus and imminent death was not right around the corner. The gherkins were perfectly sweet and sour with a crunchy texture. It reminded me of, well, a gherkin. Which is exactly what I was aiming for.
One down, sixty eight to go.