Homemade German Mustard Pickles (Senfgurken) Recipe

Gherkins, dill, salt and mustard grains
Gherkins, dill, salt and mustard grains. Getty Images/Westend61
    40 mins
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If you have a soft spot for Senfgurken, then try this homemade German pickle recipe with mustard, dill, and other spices. These pickles are unlike most you are probably familiar with in that the cucumbers are peeled and cut into chunks before being packed in brine. 

Use pickling cucumbers for canning, which keep their shape, or English cucumbers to make these refrigerator pickles that will keep for a couple of weeks. If you want to can them for longer storage, I provide links to instructions, below. 

Also known as Spreewälder Gurken, these homemade pickles are famous as a specialty of Berlin.

What You'll Need

  • 4 1/2 pounds pickling cucumbers or English cucumbers
  • 1 onion, sliced
  • Fresh dill weed sprigs
  • 2 cups white-wine vinegar
  • 2 cups water
  • 2 1/2 cups sugar
  • 1 tablespoon yellow mustard seed
  • 6 juniper berries
  • 1/2 teaspoon whole coriander
  • 1/2 teaspoon whole black peppercorns
  • 1/4 teaspoon whole caraway
  • 1/4 teaspoon whole dill seed
  • 1/2 teaspoon whole allspice
  • 1 crumbled bay leaf
  • 4 whole cloves
  • 1/8 teaspoon powdered ginger
  • 2 tablespoons salt

How to Make It

  1. Peel 4 1/2 pounds cucumbers, cut them in half lengthwise, scrape out the seeds, and then cut into 1/2-inch chunks.
  2. Layer them in 2 to 3 clean quart canning jars together with some sliced onion and fresh dill sprigs.
  3. In a large nonreactive (no aluminum) saucepan, make the brine by bringing 2 cups white-wine vinegar, 2 cups water, 2 1/2 cups sugar, 1 tablespoon yellow mustard seed, 6 juniper berries, 1/2 teaspoon whole coriander, 1/2 teaspoon whole black peppercorns, 1/4 teaspoon whole caraway, 1/4 teaspoon whole dill seed, 1/2 teaspoon whole allspice, 1 crumbled bay leaf, 4 whole cloves, 1/8 teaspoon powdered ginger and 2 tablespoons salt to a boil. Cook for 3 minutes or until sugar and salt are dissolved.
  1. Pour the hot brine over the cucumbers in the jars to within 1/4 inch of the rim of the glass. Close immediately. Store in a cool spot or refrigerator. If you do not want to process further, keep them refrigerated and they should last for a couple of weeks (see the note below).
  2. They are ready to eat after 24 hours but the flavors get stronger as they age.

Note: Some people say that the pickles made this way (raw pack) keep for several months without further processing. As they cool, a vacuum creates a seal, much like cooking in a water bath.

Generally, I prefer to process or can anything I do not want to refrigerate. If you want to can these pickles they will become softer but keep for months on the shelf.