Crunchy and salty, a true symbol of our wonderful French gastronomy, the gherkin is a particularly popular condiment. The French like to eat it, in a year a Frenchman would consume about 400 grams. But do you really know where this famous seasoning you find in your commercial jars comes from? And at the same time discover how to grow it in your vegetable garden!
The pickle under the magnifying glass: Origin, history and import!
The pickle whose petite botanical name Cucumis sativus belongs to the Cucurbitaceae family. It is actually a type of cucumber that is picked very small. Thus, the gherkin is a cucumber harvested before ripeness. Originally, the word pickle means “little horn”. It consists of 95% water, a very healthy and refreshing food.
Historically, we find the first official mention of its cultivation in France under the reign of Charlemagne, when he ordered its cultivation in his domains. However, it was not until Christopher Columbus’s return to America that this fruiting vegetable became popular on the old continent. In the 1980s and 1990s, production in France was gradually pushed aside, to the point that today, if you take a closer look at your pots, you will discover that they very often come from India. According to the site of French agriculture today, our pickles come 80% from India and 20% from Eastern Europe.
Grow your own pickles in the vegetable garden
Growing your own pickles in your garden is very possible! There are several old French varieties that are easy to grow and of excellent taste quality. The pickle ‘Vert Petit de Paris’, for example, is a very old variety, already mentioned in the Vilmorin-Andrieux of 1883 for its excellent productivity!
It is a creeping annual plant that can also be easily climbed on supports, fences to save space in the vegetable garden. Seeds of this variety are sown in pots in the spring between March and May.
Transplanting is then done in fresh, loose and humus-rich soil in a sunny position when the plants have 3 leaves and frost is no longer to be feared. Due to the culture, the pickle will be especially close to tomatoes, lettuce, but it should be kept away from other cucurbits.
Picking and storing pickles
The picking is done shortly after flowering, when the gherkins are about 7-8 cm, usually three months after sowing. After harvesting, they are brushed to remove the small spiky hairs and rubbed with coarse salt. They are then candied in vinegar to keep them for several months and they always have a crunchy cucumber to eat!
In love with flavors, I like to experiment in the kitchen, with plants, herbs and seasonal, wild or unknown vegetables. I am happy to share my gastronomic trials and my most beautiful culinary discoveries.