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Aug 31, 2011 10:26 AM

Source for KOSHER DILL pickling spice? (No cloves, please)

We attended this spectacular Kosher dill pickle making event a month ago:

The gist of the thing is that Rabbi Marcus, a young orthodox rabbi from Long Beach (who speaks inexplicably with a Brooklyn orthodox patois), was taught by a recently departed 90+ year old New York dill pickle maker the secrets to making an honest to goodness old fashioned salt fermented pickle, like the kind you would have gotten from barrels in New York's lower east side in the early to mid 20th century (there's only one or two left now).

Fresh salt fermented pickles are tricky, because they don't use vinegar or any preservatives to keep them fresh. They're really in top form as full sours with a great crunch only for a couple of weeks, before they start to get waterlogged and a little mushy.

Anyway, one of the things that Rabbi Marcus mentioned is the pickling spice-- he said that none of the pickle making companies make their own, and that it's always purchased in bulk, but that it is always more or less the same.

Any mention of spices sends me rushing to Penzey's, where I purchased their pickling spice mixture. I made a batch of pickles with me newfound knowledge of picklery and....

Well, not so good.

The batch I made with Rabbi Marcus' pickling blend at the event was perfect. The pickles I made with Penzey's mixture tasted overwhelmingly of cloves, which should not be a prominent flavor in a kosher dill. (Probably more suited to a sweet midwestern bread and butter pickle rather than a traditional New York sour dill). Additionally, the mixture did not contain any dried red peppers.

So, my question for the pickle making hounds is this:

Where can one find a proper mixture of KOSHER DILL pickling spice? I don't recall Rabbi Marcus' blend containing any cloves whatsoever (and after a lifetime of eating kosher dills, I've never tasted it in a brine before). I'm thinking about heading to A-1 and seeing if they'll sell me a small quantity.


Mr Taster

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    1. I looked at my spices. I think I bought pickling spice without cloves at Smart and Final. The store in Culver City has been remodeled and carries a lot of good products.

    2. After getting the hang of vinegar-type pickles, I just recently got interested in the salt fermented version, and so far, I'm 0 for 1. I tried using Alton Brown's recipe, but after a couple days, my cukes were so soft inside they were practically hollow. After some research, I tentatively concluded that my cukes were too mature and/or not fresh enough, even though they seemed plenty firm when I bought them (at Super King). I'm not sure where in LA to get younger/fresher pickling cucumbers.

      Anyway, Brown doesn't use pickling spices, per se. He just goes with black peppercorns, red pepper flakes, garlic, and dill, which I have to say is closer to my West Coast memory of the equivalent. On the other hand, he's just calling his "dill pickles", not "kosher". What was the Rabbi's method? Is it summarizable?

      2 Replies
      1. re: badmeow

        It's off topic for this board, but I've posted his method on the home cooking board.

        Mr Taster

        1. re: Mr Taster

          For anyone reading this thread -- seriously, just go read Mr. Taster's thread on the Honest-to-God Hasem Pickles.

          It's long, but is a key reference to making and spicing pickles.

          Go on -- go read it.

          the pickles ROCK.

      2. Bump.

        Hey Mr. Taster,

        Any luck on a good Pickling Spice recipe for Fermented Dills ?

        Tried many store bought mixes but none seem right. I also believe cloves, as well as cinnamon, allspice, mace, and ginger DON'T belong in fermented dills.

        For dills, I'm kinda closing in on a mix of fresh dill, whole garlic, whole black pepper, dried red chilies, coriander, and mustard seed with various little additions of fennel, celery seed, bay, and even hint of cardamon. Getting close, but still needs a little work.

        3 Replies
        1. re: PoppiYYZ

          read Mr. Taster's Hashem pickle thread, referenced above.

          1. re: sunshine842

            I did already. Wondered if Mr T had settled on a favorite blend or had any updates.

            The commercial pickling spice works great in my Pickled Herring - Sledzie (vinegar based) which I am making today, but it doesn't work well in the dills.

            1. re: PoppiYYZ

              The best way is to make your own spice blend using the recipe outlined in the pickle thread post. Go to Penzey's and stock up (but fehcrissakes don't use their premade pickling spice blend, which is thoroughly and utterly goyish!)

              Mr Taster

        2. I make great pickles, my mom taught me and she would just buyy the spices and take outout the spices she didn't want.
          I make mine like hers except I don't use the spices. Start with a good salt water solution, put garlic gloves and some dill in bottom add the cukes, pour in salt water to cover add more garlic and
          dill then top with a slice of rye bread with seeds. Put on cover, put in dark place till they get to the doneness you like about five days for us. Then refrigerate. Great garlic dill pickles. My friends ask for them all the time.