a prickly pickle

A triffid has taken over my veggie patch.


It’s an heirloom variety of gherkin and goes by many a name: West Indian Gherkin, Bur Cucumber, and my favourite, Goosberry Gourd, to name but a few. However you choose to address it, it is a hardy, insistent vine that is keen to explore as much of its surrounds as possible (and unlike a triffid-squash I also happen to have, it’s a prolific fruiter). But what is really great about this tenacious plant is its prickly little surprises:


They are literally so prickly I use gloves when I pick them!


Now I love a good pickle – makes any boring sandwich a treat – and these little gems are great for such treatment. I am a bit of a ‘make it up/adapt it as I go along’ kinda cook and as such I don’t have an exact recipe. And because my gherkins are continually fruiting I am making jars of pickles as they are ready, rather than in one large batch – usually only one jar at a time. So for what it’s worth my method is as follows:

1. Put cucumbers/gherkins whole or sliced into a jar. Pour vinegar (I used white vinegar but you can use whatever you like) into said jar to measure required quantity, making sure the fruit are completely covered. Pour vinegar out again into a small saucepan. Add a little extra splash to make up for evaporation.

2. Add to the vinegar about a dessert spoon of natural, additive free salt and another of raw sugar (but it’s about taste – add or subtract to get the flavour you like).

3. Add about a teaspoon each of dill seeds and mustard seeds, a sliced clove of garlic, and perhaps some fresh dill, onion and/or chilli to the saucepan.

4. Bring it all to the boil so that the sugar and salt dissolve, and then allow to cool until it’s warm but not hot (some recipes say to pour the vinegar over hot, but I find that this turns the pickles to mush and I like a bit of crispness to my pickles).

5. Pour over cucumbers/gherkins so that they are completely covered, spoon in seeds/herbs etc, seal and store until you can’t wait any longer, and then eat them!



This particular triffid-like plant is welcome in my garden any time!

2 responses to “a prickly pickle

  • Laurel

    Quick question for the pickle expert — when you can and pickle the gherkins, do they become less prickly? The French gherkins we just planted are so prickly we can barely handle them. Just wondering if the prickly little nubs go away/soften when you can them. Thank you!

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