Citizens – my personal, legendary recipe for kosher dill pickles is one of 3 “dead man” recipes I have created, meaning I will only share them on my shuffling off of this mortal coil. That said, this version of kosher pickles (based closely from a recipe found on NPR) is both excellent (especially after my tweaks) and truly delicious!
As an aside – the secret to the best pickles made in commercial quantities is to mature them, ideally, in a barrel that was used to ship olives from the Mediterranean – it adds something that can never be replicated… Lacking such an outré item, the following recipe works VERY well indeed – enjoy! ￼
Brined pickles are prepared using the traditional process of natural fermentation in a brine which makes them grow sour. There is no vinegar used in the brine of naturally fermented pickled cucumbers. The fermentation process is entirely dependent on the naturally occurring Lactobacillus bacteria that normally cover the skin of a growing cucumber. Since these are routinely removed during commercial harvesting/packing processes, traditionally prepared pickles can only be made from freshly harvested cucumbers.
A “kosher” dill pickle is not necessarily kosher in the sense that it has been prepared in accordance with Jewish dietary law. Rather, it is a pickle made in the traditional manner of Jewish New York City pickle makers, with generous addition of garlic and dill to a natural salt brine.
In New York terminology, a “full-sour” kosher dill is one that has fully fermented, while a “half-sour,” given a shorter stay in the brine, is still crisp and bright green. Dill pickles (not necessarily described as “kosher”) have been served in New York City since at least 1899. They are not, however, native to New York; they have been prepared in Russia, Ukraine, Germany and Poland for hundreds of years.
Typically, small cucumbers are placed in a glass or ceramic vessel or a wooden barrel, together with a variety of spices. The container is then filled with cooled, boiled water and kept under a non-airtight cover (often cloth tied on with string or a rubber band) for several weeks, depending on taste and external temperature. Traditionally stones, also sterilized by boiling, are placed on top of the cucumbers to keep them under the water. The more salt is added, the more sour the cucumbers become.
Since they are produced without vinegar, a film of bacteria forms on the top, but this does not indicate they have spoiled, and the film is simply removed. They do not, however, keep as long as cucumbers pickled with vinegar, and usually must be refrigerated.
Brining is tricky – added to 1 quart of water, each tablespoon of sea salt (weighing about .6 ounce) adds 1.8% brine. So 2 tablespoons of salt in 1 quart of water yields a 3.6% brine, 3 tablespoons yields 5.4%, and so on.
Bring TFD, I am duty-bound to tweak a recipe to perfection – my seemingly eccentric use of tea seems totally bizarre, but it serves a secret purpose! The tea will not flavor the pickles at all, but DOES contribute tannic acid, which helps to keep the pickles crunchy! Enjoy this with a delicious and unique hybrid ‘Jewish’ sandwich’ from the Catskills! If you plan to make pickles in volume, I strongly recommend this German pickling crock!
I hope you will give these delicious pickles a try, Citizens! 😀
Battle on – The Generalissimo