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Apr 20, 2009 01:38 PM

Brine for authentic NYC Pickles

It seems like every recipe I find is for dill or bread and butter pickles. The recipes for "garlic pickles" don't seem quite right. Does anyone have a recipe for authentic nyc lower east side pickles?


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  1. I would suggest trying Alton Brown's recipe.. it would be great if you could watch the episode. They seem pretty traditional.

    1 Reply
    1. re: beggsy

      This seems to be a recipe for Dill pickles. Not my thing, sorry.

    2. My brother and his family went to the Hazon "Jewish Foods" conference in California a few months ago. He, one of his daughters and his niece attended a "Sour Pickle" workshop. He's made about a dozen batches of pickles since his return, and those that I've sampled have been pretty darned good -- not quite the stuff out of the barrels on the sidewalk (is that Gus's?) on the Lower East Side, but as good as I've tasted homemade. I haven't made them myself (yet), but here's the recipe he brought home:

      Sour Pickles

      The vital period of fermentation takes place over the first three days. When fermenting, the temperature around the jar needs to be between 60° and 80° F.

      What you’ll need:

      • 1-quart jar with lid
      • 2 TBS sea salt
      • Hot and cold water
      • 1 TBS pickling spice mix
      • 3-4 cloves of garlic
      • 4 sprigs of dill
      • As many pickling cucumbers as will fit in the jar, the fresher, the better

      How to turn cucumbers into pickles:

      • Measure salt and pour into bottom of the jar. Add hot water, as little as possible, and stir until salt dissolves.
      • Fill 55% of the jar with cold water. Add spices, garlic and dill to the salted water.
      • Add cucumbers to the jar, packing them “strategically,” larger ones on the bottom, smaller ones on top, so that the pickles are completely submerged. Cover jar with lid or cheesecloth; do not seal. Allow pickles to ferment in a warm (above 50°) environment. After 48 hours, you have a half-sour pickle. Depending on how sour you want it, continue to ferment and keep checking

      11 Replies
      1. re: CindyJ

        Pickling spice mix is the key here--what's the mix?

        1. re: hankstramm

          I'm guessing my brother uses a store-bought blend.

        2. re: CindyJ

          Cindy, this sounds so simple I must try it. But one question: what needs to be done to stop the fermenting once the pickle reaches the desired state of sourness? Thanks.

          1. re: CindyJ

            I'll be eager to know how your pickles turn out if you try this recipe.

            1. re: CindyJ

              Cindy - Thanks for the recipe - Ill have to try and report back with results!

              1. re: shorts

                Hey Shorts,

                So what makes authentic lower east side pickles authentic?

                By the way, my favorite recipe is basically CindyJ's without the pickling spice. And it must be fresh dill fronds (not seeds, and dried dill adds no flavor at all). A couple of items I picked up while searching for recipes: use plain (not iodized) salt, as iodine is not healthy for lactobacteria. Below 55F the pickles may not ferment, and above 80F they may spoil (from molds and such).

                1. re: Zeldog

                  So what makes authentic lower east side pickles authentic?

                  All the above. But it's the water that makes the difference.

                  1. re: Zeldog

                    Im just hoping to recreate the taste of the incredibly expensive pickles I buy from the LES in NYC. I work 15 minutes away and should be grateful I have such a great resource so close, but Id like to try my own hand at it!

                    That being said, they are not dill pickles, and it seems that garlic pickle recipes arent the same either. Just hoping!

                    1. re: shorts

                      I wonder what would happen if you got some brine from your favorite pickle vendor, put it in a jar, and submerged your own pickles.

                      1. re: CindyJ

                        Well, I bought a half gallon from The Pickle Guys a few weeks ago, and when I finished them all last Friday I bought some kirbies (sp?) and threw them in. How long do I have to wait to try them? The brine is cold - I think that may be an issue...