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FINALLY... a real, honest-to-Hashem method for making real lower east side SALT FERMENTED KOSHER DILL PICKLES, as directed by Moe, a 90+ year old former pickle master

Last month a friend and I attended what turned out to be a spectacular free presentation on the history of the traditional kosher dill pickle, as they were made and sold out of barrels in the Jewish neighborhoods of the lower east side of New York City during the Jewish immigration wave of the early 20th century.

Rabbi Marcus (of www.rabbipickle.com) tells the story of how he befriended an 90+ year old former lower east side pickle maker named Moe, who wanted to pass on his traditional technique for making kosher dills to the kids of the congregation. Well as the Rabbi explains in the workshop, not only did the kids show up, but the parents did too. He soon realized that this was no longer just a kids activity, and he started to expand his presentations. (Note to mods, I am in no way associated with the Traveling Pickle Factory- I am just an enthusiastic participant).

So as the story goes, sadly Moe passed on a few years ago, but his pickle recipe lives on through Rabbi Marcus and his pickle making disciples. If he comes to your area, I can't recommend his workshop highly enough.

A brief review and photos:

First, let's get a few things out of the way.

- Making Moe's traditional pickles is dead easy. It just takes some time.

- THE MOST IMPORTANT THING TO REMEMBER: The salt to water brine ratio. You have to get this right, because this dictates how the pickles will ferment, and how they will taste. (Too little salt and they will not properly ferment. Too much salt and they will become inedible.) All the other ingredients (dill, spice, garlic, etc.) are to taste-- that's the artistry of the pickle. The brine is the science. If you don't get the science right, the art fails automatically.

- I like vinegar. You like vinegar. VINEGAR DOES NOT BELONG IN MOE'S TRADITIONAL KOSHER DILL METHOD! All of the sour flavor in traditional kosher dills is developed strictly by the fermentation of the cucumbers in brine. The addition of vinegar (as well as cooking pickles using canning methods) are relatively modern modifications to traditional recipes initiated by the food processing industry to extend shelf life. But hey, if you really like vinegar, go ahead and try it. But that's not how Moe did it :)

- Whether the pickles turn out to be new pickles, half sours, or full sours depends only on one factor-- time. The longer the cucumbers sit in the brine, the more sour they will become. If you leave them in the brine too long beyond full sour, they will become unappealingly soft in the middle. The window of time to eat a full sour at peak crispiness is only a couple of weeks. This is the reason it's virtually impossible to buy truly fresh traditionally made kosher dill pickles at the supermarket- even the fresh, uncooked refrigerated versions like Claussen contain vinegar and other preservative agents. (This is easily verified if you look at the ingredient label, as I did)

- Rabbi Marcus acknowledged that kirbys are of course the traditional pickling cucumber. However, he advised that as pickle novices we begin with Persian cucumbers. Unlike kirbys, Persian cucumbers give off very little water in the fermentation process and will not throw off the water to salt ratio as much as kirbys can. Once you've made a few batches with Persians with the measurements listed below (and have tasted and gotten used to the proper salt content in a brine), try it with kirbys. You'll eventually be able to judge by taste when the brine is salty enough. My first attempt at making pickles with kirbys turned out great- I added a little additional salt to compensate for the extra water the kirbys would give off.

So without further ado, gather the necessary ingredients and apparatus.


1 32-oz plastic deli container with lid (you'll see why plastic is important below)
16 oz spring water, room temperature
2 tbsp Diamond Kosher Salt (this brand is important-- not all kosher salt is the same shape and volume will measure out differently, and larger crystals may have a harder time dissolving. If you can't find Diamond Kosher salt, you should know that I weighed mine out at about 20g)

(This part is to taste, so modify Moe's recipe as you see fit)

Approx 2 tbsp pickling spice (more on this later-- not all pickling spice is the same)
If your pickling spice does not contain small whole dried red peppers, add a couple to your mix- 1 to 2 for a mild one, and several more for a less traditional spicy pickle.
2-3 medium cloves of garlic
Several Persian cucumbers (try to find ones that are not too long and will fit comfortably in the 32oz deli container. If they are too long to fit, don't worry-- cut them in half. They will pickle just as well.)
1 sprig fresh dill

1. Add water and salt to plastic deli container. Place lid on tightly and shake vigorously to dissolve salt.
2. Add pickling spice, replace lid and shake vigorously.
3. Add garlic cloves.
4. Inspect the cucumbers. Make sure that stems have been fully trimmed, as these can over ferment and cause the pickles to too easily soften. Pack pickles vertically in the container. The idea is to pack them tightly down into the container, so that they will resist floating to the top. You want to keep them fully submerged in the brine, and they will not want to cooperate. Pickle tips that are exposed above the brine level will not ferment at the same rate as the submerged portion.
5. Lay the dill frond ON TOP of the brine! The dill is not a part of the brine and will infuse its essence as the pickles ferment. This is not to say that you should worry if it submerges on its own (it will, eventually).
6. Loosely place the lid on top-- DO NOT SEAL IT DOWN TIGHTLY. As the cucumbers ferment, they will give off gas which will cause a sealed lid to bulge and possibly pop off unexpectedly. You may wish to poke small holes in the plastic lid to help with ventilation.
7. Leave the cucumbers out on your counter top (or in a window) for one day (I left mine out for two, and it helped to speed up the fermentation though I wouldn't leave it out for much longer). The warmer temperature will help to activate the fermentation process. Remember, placing the pickles in the fridge does not stop the fermentation-- it just slows it down.
8. Place pickles in the refrigerator. You may see bits of white scum float to the top as a byproduct of fermentation. I didn't bother to skim mine as there really was very little, and the results were great. But feel free to skim yours if you like. Rabbi Marcus didn't mention anything about skimming.

And now, the results. Please note that these timetables are specific to my experience in Los Angeles summertime weather-- actual time will vary depending on your climate, room temperature and the temperature of your refrigerator.

In my experience, I have new pickles after 3 days, half sours after about a week and a half, and full sours after three weeks.

And that's Moe's method, in an admittedly overly detailed, ungainly nutshell.

One final note on pickling spice. Moe told Rabbi Marcus that no professional pickle maker makes his own pickling spice-- they all buy it in vast bulk quantities the same general suppliers. As a result, the Rabbi basically told us to go to any store and buy some. This turned out to be a little more of a problem than I anticipated. The pickling spice handed out at the workshop yielded perfect pickles. (I don't know who he purchases from.) But pickling spice mixtures are indeed different, and as I found out after buying a quantity of Penzey's pickling spice, cloves really don't belong in a kosher dill brine. (While their spices are incredibly fresh, Penzey's is a midwestern company, and as such I really shouldn't have expected them to have a proper NY kosher dill pickle blend-- theirs is more suited for a sweet bread and butter pickle.)

I'm still trying to figure out what the perfect pickling spice combination for a kosher dill is. In the blend we used at the workshop, I was able to identify crumbled bay leaves, yellow mustard seeds, whole dried red chile peppers (you get a really lovely, spicy dill if you add several of these) and dried dill seed. However, there were other spices I simply was not able to identify).

Go forth and make Moe's pickles, new disciples.

Mr Taster

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  1. Thank you SO much for sharing this! I know what I'm doing this weekend!

    14 Replies
    1. re: Terrie H.

      I suspect that I too will be making pickles this weekend. Thanks Mr. Taster!

      1. re: BananaBirkLarsen

        Don't thank me. Thank Moe!

        The impetus for this long post is that I simply got tired of filtering through all the specious kosher dill pickle info on the internet (ever notice how people like to speak confidently even when they're making things up, or repeating inaccurate information? There are so many websites and blogs out there suggesting that you cook or use hot water, and add vinegar to make kosher dills).

        I realized that we needed some traditional, grounded, practical, verified advice from someone who knew how to make them (Moe & Rabbi Marcus) and someone who grew up in that area eating them and knew what they should taste like (me!). It's always tricky with food blogs... you could be reading a passionate diatribe from a Bhutanian in Omaha who loves their Claussens, effusively declaring their "perfect" method for making fresh kosher dill pickles, when in fact the person's advice and recipe is not rooting in anything other than their own personal taste.

        But again, it's not that vinegared pickles can't be delicious. It's just that they're not traditional. The thing that bothers me is that these methods often are passed off as being traditional out of well intended ignorance, by enthusiastic people who don't really know what they're talking about. And the misinformation is repeated, builds, spins and multiplies until you really don't know what the truth is anymore. My goal for this post is simply to cut through all the clutter.

        One item I didn't clarify was that Moe was an artist. Like many traditional cooks, Moe used no measurements- he just knew when it was right. Knowing that he would need to recreate this recipe for others to follow, Rabbi Marcus developed the recipe I've listed above using Moe's methods. Once he got the stamp of approval from Moe, he moved forward with it. So the recipe is Rabbi Marcus', but the method is Moe's.

        Mr Taster

        1. re: Mr Taster

          Ah yes. I write web content for a living and am very familiar with talking confidently about things I know crap all about (seriously - do the job for a week and you'll never believe anything you read online again).

          In any case, thank you to Moe and Rabbi Marcus for passing on some correct info for once!

          1. re: Mr Taster

            I love pickles and miss good NY area kosher pickles. I am hoping to go to Bhutan next year actually - did you get the Bhutanian in Omaha's name, maybe he can help me find good pickles in Bhutan while I'm there. (hehe)

            1. re: thimes

              Make your own! Surely they have salt and cucumbers and a crock. Part of living in distant parts is making your own hamburger buns, candy bars, pickles.....

        2. re: Terrie H.

          I was passing time in a local vintage store today and found an actual ceramic pickle crock for the low price of $6. When I walked a little further down the road and came to my local one-stand farmer's market, I found a nice supply of kirby cucumbers. It felt somewhat fate-like, so I think I'll be starting my second batch of pickles today. Still haven't found any proper dill, but I found an interesting looking pickling spice mix at the Mexican market and I'll see how that works. I'll try to find some dill weed to plop on top tomorrow, but mostly I'm just excited about my new pickle crock!

          1. re: BananaBirkLarsen

            banana, I'm reading from the top down so forgive if this was previously asked.
            can you post a pix of your ceramic pickle crock?
            I'm always looking for info on things from the past, love me some vintage :D

            1. re: iL Divo

              I realize this is an older converstaion, but I'm hoping someone is still paying attention.

              My second attempt at pickling has produced two MOLDY garlic cloves flosting at the top.. This is addition to the normal ammount of scum. This after two weeks.

              My first attempt produced no such problem. I do all the fermentation on the counter top. I add garlic cloves and peppercorns to the brine. I pickle kirbys and tomatoes.

              After rinsing well are the tomatoes and pickles safe to eat?

              Thanks to all..

              1. re: mdb0610

                imho I would not eat the pickles
                did you pickle both of them together?

                I never have scum-be sure to clean kirby's and pat dry
                when making these pickles I never add tomatoes

                1. re: jpr54_1

                  Tomatoes,kirbys,garlic,and peppercorns all went into brine together.

                2. re: mdb0610

                  They are most likely safe to eat.

                  Use your common sense. If they pickles smell off, don't eat them. If they pass the smell test, try a little of one item. If it tastes fine, it's fine to eat.

                  1. re: cacio e pepe

                    The stuff below the brine should not represent a hazard. That is why everything should be submerged in the brine. Toss stuff w/ mold. Not that mold is always bad (think miso, soy sauce...), but it is not a known good. In this case common sense rules well.

                    1. re: wavywok

                      Fully agree with everything you wrote.

          2. What a treasure! I really appreciate you sharing the information.

            Your quest for the perfect spice mixture got me curious and I looked through a half dozen of my older Jewish cookbooks. While they all referred to spice mix or pickling mix a few specific spices were mentioned that might be of interest:

            celery seed, fennel, garlic and even grated horseradish

            3 Replies
            1. re: meatn3

              Thank you for this. Eventually I'm going to strain my brine and attempt a little closer analysis of what was actually inside it. I'll be sure to keep your spices in mind as I try to determine what's in it.

              Mr Taster

              1. re: Mr Taster

                I was looking through Charcuterie by Ruhlman/Polcyn and they have a pickling spice mix which is described as being a little sweeter and less bay than most commercial mixes.

                Black peppercorns
                mustard seed
                coriander seeds
                hot red pepper flakes
                allspice berries
                ground mace
                cinnamon sticks
                bay leaves
                whole cloves
                ground ginger

                Their recipe for traditional dills uses vinegar and calls for the pickling spice mixture plus:
                more black peppercorns, dill seed, fresh dill and kosher salt.

                I am amazed how hard it was to find a recipe for pickling spices! Seems to have more "sweet" spices than I would want for dills, but it's a step closer!

                1. re: meatn3

                  that's exactly what I found when looking for recipes for pickling spice.
                  5 ingredients on that list are sweet to me, I know ginger is hot but it goes into many sweet treats.

            2. I know I must have tasted this sort of pickle, at a Jewish deli in Los Angeles years ago. What I had was mellow, not as sharp as I buy in jars now--so the lack of vinegar sounds right. SO good! Oh yes I'll try this, thank you so much!

              These are not cooked at all, right? Could someone address why they are safe (or not safe)?

              Does the salt not allow harmful stuff to grow?

              3 Replies
              1. re: blue room

                No, these are not cooked at all. As chef chicklet says below, the trick with fermenting is to observe and control the rate at which the bacteria do their business. Warmth will excite the little buggers and make them work faster and coolness will slow them down (or put them to sleep). You're basically controlling a colony of millions of these tiny little guys through temperature control, and you need to make sure that they don't reproduce too quickly which could make your fermentation spin wildly out of control. (Perhaps someone more well versed in the science of fermentation can provide more details... where's McGee? :)

                Of course, it's always possible that a wild yeast or a colony of some other little buggers will unknowingly settle in your brine, growing and killing your friendly pickle bacteria and send the whole batch off. So the most important thing is to watch closely, and make sure things don't look odd.

                Mr Taster

                1. re: Mr Taster

                  The basics are this:

                  1. If you get an acid producing bacteria to colonize first, they will acidify the environment and make it uninhabitable for other bacteria.

                  2. The "other" bacteria are the ones that are responsible for food spoilage and rancidity. Neither have a likelihood of making you sick, believe it or not, but they make the food taste like crap.

                  3. Acidifying bacteria (either for dairy --lactobacillus or for pickling -- acetobacter) usually reproduce faster than the bad guys.

                  4. The salt levels actually aid the acetobacter in colonizing before the other spoilage bacteria.

                  Bottom line, start with clean materials, encourage the good bacteria and THEY will discourage the bad bacteria, skim mold and yeast of the top lest some off flavors develop, and don't add poop to your pickles and they will be absolutely perfectly safe to eat. And actually incredibly healthy.

                  1. re: cacio e pepe

                    Sorry! I've been making this mistake from the beginning. It's still a lactobacillus culture that is mainly doing the fermentation in pickles. Acetobacer is the dominant culture in . . . vinegar. There in the pickle brine for sure, but they aren't the main guys.

              2. Mr. Taster, so interesting to read the history about this special gentleman Moe and the Rabbi that's extending history. I'm intrigued and especially interested to learn about these pickles, there's no vinegar! Sounds like kim chee to me! All kidding aside, the fermentation process is touchy and I'm no scientist but you hit on something that is absolutely correct. You must watch it closely and the timing is crucial. Okay, now I can't wait to try my hand at making these pickles, they sound delicious.

                My mother, now gone, was a New Yorker (Peekskill) and even though she was French had many many friends. Her best girlfriend Jewish, Italians married into her family Bertolini's restaurant), and also some Irish too. She loved-loved Jewish deli and my dad being in the Navy was always being transferred but he took us with him. She missed the food she knew growing up so much that my dad to help her with her homesickness would make pickles for her. Okay he was German and it was natural for him. But, I also want to give a nod, that she also loved the Italian deli with their fresh breads and fresh mozzarella and deli meats , and also the famous thin crust pizza which she taught me how to make.

                But these pickles with their sour taste, so sour they'd make you pucker. I don't know if they're the same ones she raved about, but she sure had a craving for them. I want to truly thank you for your post. I know I am not alone when I say anytime that there's a connection to my history, it makes me feel like my parents are still with me!

                Many Blessings!

                4 Replies
                1. re: chef chicklet

                  I suspect if it was lip-puckeringly sour that there was vinegar involved. The full sours that I made (even the ones that I allowed to over-ferment so that I could learn what not to do) never soured to that point.

                  Mr Taster

                  1. re: Mr Taster

                    The flavor I remember was *not* pucker-inducing, but definitely dill. I remember the white scum, too. It didn't seem to bother anyone.

                    1. re: Mr Taster

                      Technically, there *is* vinegar in the finished brine. It's just that it was formed by the friendly bacteria via natural fermentation.

                      Vinegar added is . . . well, not kosher! (I couldn't resist.)

                    2. re: chef chicklet

                      chef chicklet~
                      " I want to truly thank you for your post. I know I am not alone when I say anytime that there's a connection to my history, it makes me feel like my parents are still with me! Many Blessings"

                      ^^^ I love that^^^ very sweet of you.........our folks aren't they always with us............ nice memory

                    3. GREAT POST! I've made traditional fermented pickles a bunch and I was nodding along with most of your tips that I learned through experience. I made homemade pickles, homemade sauerkraut, homemade pastrami (with boneless short ribs, natch), homemade rye bread, and traditional fermented ginger beer for an all fermented (or pickled in the case of the pastrami) meal. So worth the time.

                      Here are a few tips I'd add for aspiring home fermenters.

                      To your spice blend I would add coriander seed and not much else. If you can find it (I can't), then you'll want to use flowering dill.

                      The Penzey's pickling spice is excellent for corned beef/pastrami, I find, but terrible for kosher pickles. Mace and clove really don't belong at the party, you're right about that!

                      I let my pickles ferment at room temp for far longer than you do, to great personal results. The key is to continue to test your pickles after a few days of fermentation and to skim every day. There may be mold or a white yeast the floats to the top but continue to skim it off.

                      Also, I wouldn't rely on packing to keep pickles submerged. Instead, find a plate and a place that on top with a jar of water. Much more reliable. Just wash those off every couple of days when skimming/testing.

                      I cover the whole thing with a double layer of flour sack towels, though an old pillow case would be perfect, too.

                      The half sour v. full sour pickle actually doesn't have to depend on time. And in fact, I say it shouldn't. Instead it should depend on the % of salt in your brine. If you use the correct salt concentration in the brine then your half sours will remain half sours in the refrigerator for a very long time. Otherwise, you'll eventually get full sour pickles no matter what.

                      I truly hope more people start making their own fermented products like pickles, 'kraut, and homemade sodas. Thanks to Mr. T for bringing us so much knowledge from this grand tradition.

                      5 Replies
                      1. re: cacio e pepe

                        You made pastrami with boneless short ribs (And why "natch")?? Why not brisket?

                        Thanks for adding your experience to this post. I noticed today that the Penzey's blend also includes cassia. Cinnamon flavored kosher dill pickles? It's just not right. (This further strengthens my Midwestern sweet pickle theory-- I love Penzey's, but it's not the place to go for anything Semitic!) I was moved to e-mail Penzey's, recommending that they develop a kosher dill pickling spice blend, and was shortly rebuffed by their customer service agent who sent me to a random blog with a pickling spice blend recipe.

                        Also, I did in fact use the small plate method for keeping the pickles down when I made a 5 gallon bucket of them. But in the 32oz plastic deli container method listed above, this is a little impractical! This is where friction becomes your friend.

                        Interesting re: "stabilizing" the half-sour with % of salt... I can tell you that in my experience using Rabbi Marcus' recipe, the pickles do not necessarily turn at the same rate (even though I use pickles of the same relative size and thickness), but they did eventually all turn into full sours (which I prefer). I would eat the full sours out of the bucket at the moment the skins were that appropriate shade of dark green/brown and leave the brighter green halfs to ferment more. Eventually they all turned into full sours, as you indicated. So I suppose Rabbi Marcus' brine has a higher salt content which is designed to allow the cucumbers to fully develop across the full sour range. The full sours do get unappealingly soft if you leave them in the brine for too long.

                        Mr Taster

                        1. re: Mr Taster

                          Oh, I just thought if I was turning my home into a lower east side deli then I ought to go to the most ridiculous extremes possible. The short ribs were just silly rich compared to brisket. I actually prefer the traditional.

                          Good point about making friction your friend. Definitely helps keep the little guys submerged.

                          ACGold7 mentioned black pepper in the brine. I knew I forgot something!

                          ACGold7 also is right on about the starter culture. I would not reuse the brine in full, even after boiling. The money saved on spices and salt isn't much and after skimming some real interesting blooms off the top of my crock I prefer to start relatively fresh.

                          Penzey's reminds me a lot of America's Test Kitchen. They've got some great stuff, but I'm not sure I trust either with anything remotely "ethnic."

                          And one last thing. I use sea salt. You could also use kosher salt. Avoid the iodized salt as iodine will make it difficult if not impossible for an acetobacter colony to grow. Not sure if that's been mentioned yet.

                          1. re: cacio e pepe

                            Very good point about the salt. But this is why it is important to do this by weight. Different types of salt, and different brands of salt of the same type (i.e. Morton's Kosher vs. Diamond Kosher) will have different crystal sizes and therefore different volumes for the same amount of actual salt. Measuring by weight will equalize this.

                            My basic brine is 6 oz by weight per gallon of water. For the Diamond Crystal Kosher, this works out to about 1 cup by volume, maybe a hair more.

                        2. re: cacio e pepe

                          cacio e pepe, I've got one more question for you since you're a more experienced fermenter than I am. Can the used brine be reused to ferment a new batch of cucumbers? If so, what modifications would need to be made to ensure a high quality batch? I would assume that any water that had leeched into the brine would throw off the salt ratio, so that might need to be boosted. But what else?

                          Mr Taster

                          1. re: cacio e pepe

                            "I've made traditional fermented pickles a bunch"

                            I don't know why this sentence made me think of the old Andy Griffith Show with "Aint Bee" trying to sell or give her pickles to whoever will take them.
                            Wonder if anyone remembers that episode? So cute, she was soooo proud of her pickles but the looks on faces when they'd taste her prized recipe pickles were priceless.

                            not saying yours would be like that, I'm just saying that sentence got me to thinking is all :^}

                          2. Thanks for the great thread.

                            Note that the related threads below (at the bottom of the page under "Home Cooking Board Discussions") have a lot more info on timings and spice mixes.

                            6 Replies
                            1. re: acgold7

                              What threads are those?

                              Mr Taster

                              1. re: Mr Taster

                                You should see them listed below at the bottom of this page, under "Home Cooking Board Discussions". One refers to half sours, and another talks about dill seed. Do they not appear for you? If not, I will post links.

                                My procedure is very similar to yours and is in the "half-sour" thread shown below, also at this link:


                                My story isn't as historical as yours but is included in about the fourth post down.

                                This thread is about the types of dill generally available in markets, which are recommended and which aren't, and also describes the vinegar problem, and why you can't ever get a real Kosher Sour pickle if you use it:


                                You're absolutely right when you speak of misinformation on the web, especially about vinegar in Kosher Dills, or cooking them, but these threads are mostly right on.

                                About re-using brine -- you can, if you boil it first. But you run the risk of the next batch of pickles coming out soft. That's what happened with me once. The old brine will have a much higher acid content than fresh. But you could also use a bit of it as a starter, like they do with sourdough bread.

                                1. re: acgold7

                                  Links didn't appear in the first post. Thanks for this-- I'll review later and reply.

                                  The starter culture is quite an interesting idea... I will need to give that a shot.

                                  Incidentally, when referring to a specific thread from within a post, you should use the "permalink" option. Click below to see what I mean.


                                  Can you discuss a bit the differences between the flavor of flowering dill and ordinary fresh dill?

                                  Mr Taster

                                  1. re: Mr Taster

                                    The links should be appearing at the bottom of the page under "Home Cooking Board Discussions." (I've edited the first post to clarify.) I count about five of them at least which have mostly identical recipes, so lots of good resources here for people that are interested in real NYC style sour pickles.

                                    I thought the whole thread was worth reading, not just my posts, so I didn't use the Permalink option.

                                    I think the fresh baby dill just has a different flavor that isn't right for pickles and that's why I don't recommend it. Those flowering heads on the woody stalks smell unquestionably like my (long-deceased now) Uncle's old pickle truck in a way the fresh baby fronds don't. I wish I could describe it better. But the baby fronds are great in chicken soup, Greek dishes and over salmon. The whole heads have this herbaceous punch that just screams "pickles" to me.

                                    And I've found no commercial Pickling Spice blend works. All have sweet spices in them that are completely inappropriate for NYC Sour Pickles (note how I never call them Dill Pickles). To me, all they need are the aforementioned Dill, Garlic, Black Peppercorns, Red Chilies, Coriander and Mustard Seed. I detail these in my recipe in the other thread. I don't use Bay Leaf -- again too sweet for my taste. God love Penzey's, but they're Goys.

                                    1. re: acgold7

                                      Amen to that last line. Choked on my tea - but would much rather be choking on a pickle right now.

                                  2. re: acgold7

                                    We should note that the Discussion Boards software no longer does this, so if you're going crazy looking for related threads, it's not you -- they aren't there. Check out the related threads listed above instead.

                              2. All procedure debate aside, what a terrific thread. I must try this. Being the lazyass girl that I am, I make "insta-pickles", (bread-and-butter) that are good if you make them in the morning and let them sit in the brine.
                                Thank you for sharing this with us. It's a great story and a historical reference. If that conference comes ANYWHERE near here, I'm totlaly going.

                                1. Funny you should post this! I've actually just made my own garlic sours and yesterday's taste test (after a week of fermenting on the counter) showed they were a success! I took half out and refrigerated, and put the rest back to ferment some more..

                                  The method I used was similar but not the same as yours. I followed directions at http://www.wildfermentation.com/resou...

                                  1 Reply
                                  1. re: Chris VR

                                    that's a crazy recipe.
                                    where's one gonna find fresh oak, cherry, grape or horseradish leaves?
                                    wow, that's an odd one.
                                    plus reading the recipe is very confusing, do the ingredients run together on purpose or is it a mistake?
                                    I've grown dill before but as I recall it's a short growing season.
                                    and not a lot of dill comes from the seeds either :(

                                  2. This is terrific. Thank you so much, Mr. Taster. It would be nice to find more of this on Chowhound: posters who help preserve excellent recipes or techniques that are dying and then disappearing because the only ones who know the technique are 70+ years old. The 70+ year olds may have passed on the technique to a few people, but it is not general knowledge.

                                    I think of this whenever I think of all the recipes from my grandmother that are lost to posterity because I wasn't prescient enough as a kid to ask my grandmother how she made these dishes. Reverse engineering these recipes sometimes works, but many times, you just can't get the recipe right and it would have been so easy when that person who knew the recipe was alive.

                                    6 Replies
                                    1. re: gfr1111

                                      Mr Taster I have no idea where I would get a 32-oz plastic deli container. But I have 3 clay pickle pots made I believe specifically for fermenting pickles. Any know problems with substituting them for the plastic?

                                      1. re: Herne

                                        The reason for the plastic deli containers (which you can get at any supermarket deli counter) is threefold:

                                        1. They are cheap (free) and abundant
                                        2. The vessels are narrow enough to hold the right amount of pickles together vertically so they resist floating away
                                        3. The lids can be pierced to make ventilation holes

                                        Of course, if you have some of those old pickle making vessels like Alton Brown shows on his TV show (the one where the heavy clay lids (which already have air holes cut out) actually fit inside the vessel so they weight down the pickles, those would probably work better than the deli container. I write this assuming that most people would not have access to such specialized equipment (though I'd like to know where you got yours!)

                                        Mr Taster

                                        1. re: Mr Taster

                                          I don't know where they came from. I have 3 sizes and lids which do not go below the lip of the "pail". Glazed and presumably worth quite a bit. I'd ask my former wife but I prefer not to.

                                          1. re: Mr Taster

                                            Search Amazon for fermentation crock and you will find TSM and Harsch Gairtopf which can be used for pickles and sauerkraut

                                            1. re: Mr Taster

                                              you mean all I have to do is go into a supermarket deli counter and ask for a 32 oz deli container and they'll give it to me? shocking I tell you, shocking :;-/
                                              I'm gonna try it though, I have more nerve than brains.

                                            2. re: Herne

                                              not sure where you live Herne, but my girlfriend swears by her favorite store, "The Container Store".
                                              she's outside Los Angeles but I've seen them in other states too.

                                          2. Great post, Mr. Taster. Thanks for sharing. I've only attempted fermented pickles once (Alton's Brown recipe) and on day 3, they were so soft in the middle they were practically hollow. Moe's method doesn't look that far off from Brown's, but I'll try it with persian cukes (rather than the fat pickling cukes I tried the first time), and see how it goes.

                                            20 Replies
                                            1. re: badmeow

                                              If you check out the other threads we've referred to both above and below, we talk about "bloaters" and soft pickles and how to avoid them.

                                              1. re: badmeow

                                                I googled a bunch of recipes before I made mine (which came out nice and crunchy) and they all mentioning including grape leaves, if you have access to them, to the brine, to keep the crunchiness. The recipe I linked to above mentions using "1 handful fresh grape, cherry, oak, and/or
                                                horseradish leaves (if available)"

                                                1. re: Chris VR

                                                  Mine were perfectly crunchy (and remained that way for weeks in the fridge) using Moe's method, no grape leaves required.

                                                  Mr Taster

                                                  1. re: Mr Taster

                                                    Thank you for this Mr. T...

                                                    Something to do with my niece who @ 12 y.o., decided she wants to be a chef.... :)

                                                  2. re: Chris VR

                                                    Okay, I've got another batch in the brine now. I got my hands on a few fresh grape leaves straight from a vineyard. We'll see if I have better luck this time.

                                                    1. re: badmeow

                                                      If the grape leaves work for you, and I hope they do, please bear in mind the focus of this post, which is to provide guidance for Moe's traditional method for making Jewish kosher dill pickles. There is too much confusing and conflicting advice from people who speak confidently about food traditions that they really have no personal knowledge of, and this post is meant to cut through the heaps of garbled, spurious information.

                                                      Remember that the Ashkenazi Jewish food traditions are based on eastern Europe and Russia, and not the Mediterranean climates where grapes (and their leaves) grow.

                                                      Moe was likely making crunchy kosher dill pickles for decades before a fresh grape leaf ever entered his consciousness. And with regard to Alton Brown's pickle recipe, I would like to echo acgold7's sentiment: "God love Alton Brown, but he's a Goy."

                                                      Mr Taster

                                                      1. re: Mr Taster

                                                        And just to build on this a little more...

                                                        In my other thread, I admitted that I didn't experiment scientifically with the three pieces of advice I tried to keep them crunchy, or at least firm. To do so, I would have had to make four parallel batches, one with each method, plus a control using none of the three methods, all using the exact same brine and other ingredients.

                                                        To be honest, I'm guessing the most important thing is removing the blossom end (not the stem end, as indicated above).

                                                        And to be fair, we should remember that Moe probably had his share of bad batches and "Bloaters and Floaters," as well as soft full-sours, as do Guss' and all the other remaining lower east side pickle guys today. I've eaten them all and it's still an issue, as pickles are a natural, variable product and don't come from a factory where you can guarantee every one is the same.

                                                        I will say that I've never seen nor heard of using Persian cukes for this, so that may make a difference. And with regard to Alton Brown, his recipe really isn't any different from all the other real Kosher pickle recipes in these threads, which are all equally authentic, so I'm inclined to give him a break on this one.

                                                        I'm just glad there's enough interest in this thread to keep it going.

                                                        1. re: acgold7

                                                          >> And with regard to Alton Brown, his recipe really isn't any different from all the other real Kosher pickle recipes in these threads

                                                          I just looked at Alton Brown's recipe, did the math, and it does looks like his brine is rather similar to Moe's. (Though AB's salt content is a little higher.)

                                                          I wonder if other more experienced kosher dill picklers (cacio e pepe, I'm looking at you...) could chime in here to talk about whether a pickle brined in a solution with this slightly higher salt content can cause the pickles to ferment and soften more rapidly?

                                                          Here's the numbers...
                                                          AB's brine = 5.50oz salt to 0.97 gallons water
                                                          Moe's brine = 5.50oz salt to 1 gallon water (4 oz. more water than AB's)

                                                          Mr Taster

                                                          1. re: Mr Taster

                                                            Hi Mr. T,

                                                            I don't think the % by mass concentrations of the two brine recipes are different enough to matter much. The most important factor in the speed of fermentation is the ambient temperature.

                                                            All the salt does is help the right kind of bacteria win in the race for colonization. Too low and there is a greater chance of spoilage bacteria dominating. Too high and your resulting pickles are too salty, but they'll still ferment.

                                                            I've never found a truly satisfactory answer as to why a low-salt brine leads to a stable half-sour, though I've got a few hypotheses. But both of the concentrations listed above will lead to a full sour.

                                                            A note about the various leaf additions. I've never used them in my batches and they have all been fine overall (though I'm no Moe or even acgold7). Pickle barrels were traditionally oak, so maybe commercial picklers never needed the addition of oak or grape leaves. Frankly, I think the freshness of the cucumbers and the proper cleaning of the blossom end is more important, but maybe I'm missing out on some extra crunchy dills.

                                                            1. re: cacio e pepe

                                                              ***smacks forehead**** I think you've hit it. I never thought about that but should have. The tannins in the oak barrels may well have served the functions of the grape (or other) leaves.


                                                              I also think you're right about the cleaning and trimming.

                                                              But it's always a bit of a crapshoot. Right after posting yesterday, I ate five pickles from my most recent batch (primary fermentation in mid-August). Of the five, all were firm, but two were very crispy, two were just crunchy, and one was firm to the bit but not really crunchy. Random.

                                                              1. re: acgold7

                                                                I really like that randomness. Luckily, l've never had a disaster batch, but the ones that are merely good make me appreciate the randomly great ones all the more. Variation within a batch can be really wide, too. It reminds me that perfect consistency is usually the result of industrial, rather than artisanal, techniques.

                                                        2. re: Mr Taster

                                                          However, horseradish leaves WOULD have been common in Ashkenazi food preparation, and that's mentioned as a substitute for grape leaves. (It's probably more accurate that grape leaves in more modern recipes are the substitute for a more traditional horseradish leaf.) Just because Moe the pickle maker didn't use tell you to use horseradish or grape leaves (or sour cherry or oak leaves, which were also mentioned in the link) doesn't mean they weren't used by other traditional pickle makers.

                                                          As I mentioned, many MANY recipes out there for traditional kosher-style fermented sour pickles mention the leaves as a trick to keep them crisp. I don't think throwing leaves in there makes it more or less traditional, but regardless, most people are looking for the best results, not the most traditional results. If it works, and doesn't compromise the integrity of the recipe, why not use them?

                                                          1. re: Chris VR

                                                            I'll just simply say what Rabbi Marcus says when people tell him they've heard it done differently... essentially:

                                                            This is Moe's method, and that's not how Moe did it. And this presentation is meant to honor Moe and his pickles. But you're free to do whatever you want in your own home pickle factory. Throw in a scoop of ice cream, if you like. But that's not how Moe did it!

                                                            Mr Taster

                                                            1. re: Mr Taster

                                                              Hm.... or maybe that's not how Moe *told you* he did it....;-)

                                                          2. re: Mr Taster

                                                            The inclusion of grape leaves was in the interest of simple experimentation, not to sully Moe's tradition. Like Chris VR said, I'm looking for the best results, not the most traditional results. I'll choose my threads more carefully next time.

                                                            1. re: badmeow

                                                              Yes but as it was brilliantly pointed out earlier by cacio e pepe and acgold7, the grape leaves may have added back the tannins to the mix that Moe's traditional oak barrels would have provided without his even knowing it. I'd say that's a pretty fair addition to this discussion of Moe's method.

                                                              It bears repeating, however, that I successfully produced perfectly crunchy full sour kirbys (and Persians) in the plastic bucket without the addition of any grape leaves. I can't account for why your pickles turned out soft, other than to account for the differences in pickling spices and climate. My pickling spice mix was heavy on bay leaves-- perhaps that added the tannins back that would have been served previously by oak barrels?

                                                              Mr Taster

                                                              1. re: Mr Taster

                                                                We should also note that the fermentation temperature could have something to do with it. If it's too warm, you could have a problem.

                                                                And there is the cleanliness issue as well as another variable.

                                                                1. re: Mr Taster

                                                                  According to this website, bay leaves do indeed contain tannic acid, which fully explains my crunchy pickles using neither grape leaves nor oak barrels!



                                                                  Mr Taster

                                                              2. re: Mr Taster

                                                                Grapes grow in eastern Europe and Russia, and could easily have been part of Ashkenazi Jewish pickling traditions. Here's one book:


                                                            2. re: Chris VR

                                                              I have grape orchards all around where I live.
                                                              so just ask them if I can pick bunch of grape leaves and hope they say yes?

                                                          3. Thank you. Until I read this post, I had no idea that I needed to make salt fermented dill pickles. And I'm not even sure I've eaten one before. I've done a little half batch, sitting on my counter right now.

                                                            1. I've been reading this with *huge* interest, and really craving a great dill pickle.

                                                              I suspect I already know the answer, but is there any chance I could try this with "burpless" cukes? (aka English cukes, European cukes, etc., etc.) I *really* want to try this recipe, but I have a sneaking suspicion that the long skinny "burpless" kind just aren't going to work.

                                                              4 Replies
                                                              1. re: sunshine842

                                                                My understanding is that you can pickle virtually anything you like with this method, whether it be cucumbers, tomatoes, watermelon, or whatever. When pickling something new, just be sure to observe the fermentation process to make sure things don't go off.

                                                                Mr Taster

                                                                1. re: Mr Taster

                                                                  w00t. Off to try burpless pickles (o rly?)

                                                                  Thanks for the encouragement!

                                                                  1. re: sunshine842

                                                                    I have been bizarrely obsessed with this thread.

                                                                    I found some smaller cucumbers in my local Asian market, so used those. Put them in a 1.5 litre glass canning jar (the old-fashioned kind with the rubber gasket) Took the gasket off so the gases can escape, then loaded it up (had to add a little extra brine to ensure that they stay submerged.

                                                                    Wonder of wonders, I found that a small Pyrex custard cup slips right into my jar and still allows the lid to close with the wire bail.

                                                                    Don't know if they'll be edible or not, but they look AWESOME in the glass jar.

                                                                2. re: sunshine842

                                                                  You can pickle virtually anything. My Dad has been noodging me recently to do carrots this way -- he swears by them.

                                                                  When I do green tomatoes, I actually DO use some vinegar, as do most delis I know of. When I do tomatoes using this exact same brine they don't come out right. If you do tomatoes, though, they must be completely green and rock-hard. Even the slightest hint of pink and they turn to mush. Once the ripening enzymes start working they cannot be stopped.

                                                                3. I've been making pickles for a couple years using this process (salt water brine with pickling spices). I find that when the pickles reach half-sour (my preference), I can keep them from getting any more sour by straining the brine and mixing 1/2 brine to 1/2 water and storing the pickles in that liquid in the refrigerator. They keep for about a month (although they are often consumed before that point!)

                                                                  1 Reply
                                                                  1. re: Niki in Dayton

                                                                    Generally, I do mine in 30-pound batches in a ten gallon bucket, and when they reach the half-sour stage I break them down into quart and half-gallon jars and into the fridge they go. I cover them with full strength brine and always include some of the spices and garlic and a bit of the grape leaves. For me they stay crisp for a full year, which is about how long it takes me to finish 30 pounds of them. They do continue to sour to the full-sour stage, but slowly.

                                                                    I'd be concerned about lowering the salinity but if it works for you I guess it's not an issue.

                                                                  2. Awesome post. I will make my own pickles now... as soon as I can get the cucumbers to grow. Thank you for sharing!

                                                                    1. I just put 2 containers of future pickles atop my refrigerator to begin their fermentation process. I followed Moe's recipe, more or less, with a few changes:

                                                                      The cucumbers... well, I'm not really sure what kind they are. I bought them from the one-stand farmer's market down the street from a woman who speaks mainly Spanish (which I sadly do not speak myself). They look kind of like kirby cukes, but fatter than any I've ever seen. I added a touch of extra salt to be on the safe side and will watch carefully. Also, I cut them into spears because cramming even two into my container made the plastic sides bulge out awkwardly.

                                                                      I could find neither dill seed nor dill weed at any of the three grocery stores I went to. The grocery store pickle spice was expensive and contained cloves (and god knows what else) which I did not want to have to pick out. So I settled for a combination of coriander seed, mustard seed, black peppercorns and baby dill laid across the top in a desperate attempt to get at least a little bit of dill flavour in there. I used 3 dried chilis in the first container and 3 fresh Thai bird chilis in the second, since that's what I had.

                                                                      As for the grape leaf controversy... I had planned on sticking to Moe's recipe the first time and going from there. But then as I was coming home from the store this evening, I walked by a big grape vine, spilling out onto the sidewalk. So I yanked off a couple of leaves and they went into the brine as well.

                                                                      All in all, I have high hopes. At the very least, they look beautiful sitting on top of my fridge.

                                                                      27 Replies
                                                                      1. re: BananaBirkLarsen

                                                                        Sounds great. If all goes well in a couple of days your house will smell like a Jewish deli and you will be in heaven. Let us know how it goes.

                                                                        1. re: acgold7

                                                                          I am curious to know as well. I also am eager to pickle some of my own. Thanks to all for this thread.

                                                                          1. re: lilmomma

                                                                            Well, I can't say how it will end up, but it appears to be going well so far. After a day and a half on top of the fridge, I moved my containers into the cold this morning. They are definitely looking a bit frothy on top and my kitchen does indeed smell like a Jewish deli, which is awesome.

                                                                            I'll report back with any further developments.

                                                                            1. re: BananaBirkLarsen

                                                                              I await your results with great anticipation!

                                                                              Since you did not include bay leaves (or grape leaves) in your brine, I will be very curious to hear whether your pickles turn out soggy, like badmeow's experience.

                                                                              Mr Taster

                                                                              1. re: Mr Taster

                                                                                Me too! I made myself a tuna sandwich for lunch yesterday and had a regular, soggy, store-bought pickle spear on the side. I couldn't help staring longingly at the cucumbers in brine on top of my fridge.

                                                                                1. re: acgold7

                                                                                  I don't think it's quite thick enough to skim just yet, but will definitely do tomorrow.

                                                                          2. re: BananaBirkLarsen

                                                                            Okay, I have a question. So I'm on day 5 of the fermentation process, and everything is going well. Pickles are slightly frothy, brine is starting to taste sour, I've skimmed the scum and lightly poked everything to make sure it isn't turning to mush.

                                                                            However, a bit of the brine has evaporated, as liquids tend to do when you leave them for days on end in slightly-open containers. The problem is that it has left the tips of my cucumbers exposed. Should I mix up a bit more brine to top off the containers or will this mess up the fermentation process?

                                                                            1. re: BananaBirkLarsen

                                                                              Yes, absolutely. Ideally you would have had enough brine covering the pickles to have allowed for this, but that isn't always possible. Usually they tell you to keep the pickles in a large crock covered by at least two inches of brine but in a small container like you have, I can see that wouldn't be practical.

                                                                              1. re: acgold7

                                                                                Thanks for the quick response! My pickles are nearly as tall as the container, so there would be no way to cover with two inches of brine. But I will top them off immediately.

                                                                                1. re: BananaBirkLarsen

                                                                                  This is the part where "friction is your friend" becomes relevant, though to be honest I was unable to achieve total submersion either. A fermentation crock with a vented, weighted lid that fits inside the crock (rather than sitting on top) which keeps the pickles submerged while allowing gases to escape is ideal.

                                                                                  Mr Taster

                                                                                  1. re: Mr Taster

                                                                                    I originally intended to do the friction thing, but my cucumbers were so fat that only two made the container bulge so much I was afraid it would crack. So I cut them into spears which worked fine until the brine started to evaporate. It only took a few tablespoons to top 'em up though, so I think all will be well as long as I keep an eye on them.

                                                                                  2. re: BananaBirkLarsen

                                                                                    There's actually another method that I use that works very well when I do a small (i.e. a quart) batch. I got this from a great book called Home Made in the Kitchen, now sadly out of print. You should try to pick up a used copy if you can find one. What they have you do is basically the same recipe we all do, but do it in an old pickle or other quart glass jar. Fill it to the top with brine, then screw the top on (no holes in the top) and place on a plate to catch any brine that may bubble out. Each day, you rotate the jar top to bottom. After a week or so you just put the jar into the fridge and that's all there is to it. Works every time and the cukes stay submerged.

                                                                                2. re: BananaBirkLarsen

                                                                                  Just throwing this (not so original) tip in here since the subject of submersion is being discussed.
                                                                                  Although I've only done it in various sized glass jars while making kimchi, it should with any type of container .....

                                                                                  If you make some extra brine (concentration being the same as what's in your container) and put some in a large enough (as Alton would say) "zip top" bag it can serve as both a lid and a weight when placed in the opening of the container.
                                                                                  Using brine in the bag is just a precaution since you don't want to dilute what's in your container if it happens to leak.
                                                                                  It will shape itself to the container but still be loose enough for the fermentation gases to be released and it sill be heavy enough to keep everything submerged. It wiil also fit thru the narrow opening of a jar if that's what you are using - although I use wide mouth mason jars usually.
                                                                                  You may have to occasionally remove the bag to clean off some "scum", but it can be removed and replaced quickly.

                                                                                  1. re: Bryan Pepperseed

                                                                                    I saw that in another recipe and filed it away for reference. Good trick.

                                                                                    (using brine inside the bag also eliminates any potential dilution because of osmosis through the bag itself)

                                                                                3. re: BananaBirkLarsen

                                                                                  So an update:

                                                                                  I tasted my first pickle on Tuesday (a bit less than 1 1/2 weeks after starting). I'd say it was maybe 1/3 sour. Very salty.

                                                                                  Then I tasted another one yesterday, and the two days made quite a difference. I'd still say it's a touch on the salty side of half sour, but coming along nicely. I think I'll wait another week before tasting again and see where that gets me.

                                                                                  I do think I need to work on my spicing. Next time I will make sure I have dill seed, and maybe experiment with bay leaves and caraway seed as well. And maybe try different kinds of peppers to get a bit more heat in there.

                                                                                  1. re: BananaBirkLarsen

                                                                                    No dill seed that I could find here, so my 2Tbsp was mustard seed, coriander, peppercorns (a 5-pepper mix was what I had at home) crushed red pepper flakes (all I could find), dill fronds, and some great big cloves of garlic.

                                                                                    1. re: sunshine842

                                                                                      Sounds almost exactly like mine, although I used dried and fresh hot peppers and upped the total to 3 Tbsp (1 Tbsp mustard, 1 Tbsp coriander and 1 Tbsp peppercorns). Just a touch on the bland side, although it's hard to tell, since the pickles aren't done yet. Also, I may have forgotten to put garlic in the container I've been testing from, which would obviously make a huge difference. It's hard to check, though, without sticking my hand in and moving everything around.

                                                                                      1. re: BananaBirkLarsen

                                                                                        and now the pressure is on -- my Ukrainian chum got wind of my experiment, saying that it sounds like they'll come out like the Ukrainian pickles she loves -- and so is eagerly looking forward to trying a pickle....(crosses my fingers)

                                                                                        1. re: sunshine842

                                                                                          Well good luck! That's a lot of pressure for one pickle.

                                                                                  2. re: BananaBirkLarsen

                                                                                    I realised that I never posted about my final result. As I ate the last of my pickles yesterday, now seems like a good time to do it.

                                                                                    It took a lot longer than I expected for my pickles to reach full sour, but when they did, they were heavenly. Patience isn't my strong suit, so about half of them were gone already by the time they reached their peak. Nevertheless, they were great.

                                                                                    Notes (mostly for myself):

                                                                                    - Next time, I will make sure to include dill seed and proper fresh dill as well. The dill taste in mine was very light. Overall, I think my spice mixture was rather bland and I might experiment with some of the ideas posted in this thread next time.

                                                                                    - I need to work out my submersion issues before I attempt another batch. As the brine evaporated and as I ate the pickles, pieces of pickle began to poke out above the brine. This resulted in mushy ends on a number of pickles and a single pickle that tasted overly-fermented. I think part of the problem was my containers. I bought them in a 5/$1 pack and while they looked just like deli containers (only with blue lids), they were much more flimsy. With flimsy containers, friction is not your friend.

                                                                                    - I might extend the out-of-fridge fermentation time by a day or so, to see if that speeds up the total process. Others seem to have done that successfully and, as I mentioned, I'm not a particularly patient person (especially when it comes to pickles).

                                                                                    Now, on to the olives!

                                                                                    1. re: BananaBirkLarsen

                                                                                      funny you should post this today -- I just brought home the cukes to start the next batch!

                                                                                      1. re: sunshine842

                                                                                        How did your first batch turn out?? Did they hold up to your Ukrainian friend's standards?

                                                                                        1. re: BananaBirkLarsen

                                                                                          They did! They were a little softer than I would have liked - because I didn't see the ice-bath post until after I'd started...THIS batch will be ice-bathed.

                                                                                          They were still crispy, though -- and my Ukrainian friend said that it's very similar to the recipe her mother used to make pickles. Nice to get a nod from someone who knows the real thing!

                                                                                          Next batch is in two smaller jars -- one will go to her and her husband, and one for us.

                                                                                          1. re: sunshine842

                                                                                            That's great! I didn't do the ice-bath thing either, but I did do the grape leaf thing, which may have been why mine stayed crispy (except for the ends that were sticking out of the brine).

                                                                                            1. re: BananaBirkLarsen

                                                                                              the grape leaves here have all fallen and blown away -- so I'm thinking a bay leaf can't hurt the next pass....and I'll half the garlic so the oils can escape more easily -- there was *some* garlic, but not enough!

                                                                                    2. re: BananaBirkLarsen

                                                                                      banana, did you leave them on the top of the frig or eventually put them in the frig?
                                                                                      I know I'm really late to getting to this thread.
                                                                                      I left my two batches out for 2 days then in the frig they went.
                                                                                      I hope they're not soft inside.
                                                                                      won't know till the approx 3 weeks are up

                                                                                    3. Concerning pickling spice. On another message board, I found the below recipe which contains pickling spice. I contacted the contributor to ask about the pickling spice and found that he gets it from atlanticspice.com. Went to the website and found they sell the spice only in 1 pound increments, so unless I can find several someones who want to share it with me, I will not order it. However, the spice content is interesting: Coriander, Dill Seed, Mustard Seed, Bay Leaf, Cassia, Red Pepper, Allspice. I also think his point about refrigerating the cukes in cold water overnight is nothing I have ever seen in another recipe for this type pickle.

                                                                                      Easy Jewish style Garlic Dill Pickles

                                                                                      I am posting this for all of you who seem to think Jewish dill pickles are made from some magic formula that the Jews keep in the temple under guard. Well if you have ever eaten in a real Jewish Deli and had one of their pickles and want to have the same thing at home here is the recipe, bar none, that will give you what you want. It’s not difficult but there are certain things you should do if you want the best results.

                                                                                      First growing your own cukes is best but not everyone can do that so the next best thing is to get pickling type cukes from a fresh market. If the cukes are not absolutely fresh picked the same day you purchase them forget it, and just buy your pickles in the store. Size is relatively important as well 3 to 4 inch cukes are ideal, however, you should get a few smaller ones to use to fill in.

                                                                                      If you can get cukes fresh picked wash them in plain water, and this is the step most people don't know about, place them in a container and cover them with cold water and place in refrigerator overnight. I can't emphasize enough how important that step is. If you don't do this you will get spongy, soft, and mushy pickles.

                                                                                      The next day prepare your ingredients:

                                                                                      Sterlize as many quart jars as you need (whatever brand, and the lids, the kind that have the 2 pieces) and set aside to cool.

                                                                                      You will need a good supply of fresh dill (the amount will vary depending on the amount of pickles you are processing.) You will use two small sprigs in each jars.

                                                                                      (Note: Dried dill works as well but, in the summer you should be able to get fresh.)

                                                                                      Fresh Garlic cloves

                                                                                      Canning salt (Can get it in any grocery store)

                                                                                      Pickling spice mixture also available in any grocery store, however it's on the pricy side. I buy mine by the pound from online. (Lots cheaper.)

                                                                                      Bottled water. (Tap water has too many chemicals in it)

                                                                                      So now you are ready: Remove the container of chilled cukes from the frige.

                                                                                      Into one cup of bottled water put one level tablespoon of pickling salt and stir to dissolve. Set aside.

                                                                                      Into each quart jar place a sprig of dill on the bottom. (A sprig can be from 2 to 3 inches long,you will decide after you make these if that's more or less than you want depending on your own taste.)

                                                                                      Next put in the jar one generous tablespoon of pickling spice.

                                                                                      Garlic is an ingredient that varys according to your taste as well. Try my method and then adjust from there. I use two small to medium cloves of garlic in the bottom of the jar. If you are a garlic freak then use 3 if you don't like it that well use 1.

                                                                                      Next put the cukes in standing them up as much as possible. If they are nice sizes you can get from 3 to 4 in each jar and then if you have some small ones you may be able to squeeze one or two on top. You may be tempted to cut them to get more in. (DON'T DO IT) They will get mushy. Once you have all the cukes stuffed in, place another sprig of dill on top of them.

                                                                                      Now pour the cup of salt water in the jar.

                                                                                      Fill the remaining space with fresh bottled water up to where the neck of the jar meets the body of the jar. Leave at least 1/2 to 3/4 of an inch headroom.

                                                                                      Place the 2 piece lid on top and tighten by hand as tight as you can.

                                                                                      Set jars in a plastic container (The kind that big packages of ground meat comes in from Walmart) you can get about 6 in each one. This is just in case you didn't leave enough headroom and as the fermenting process continues one or two of the lids may buckle up and leak a little. Not to worry, it doesn't hurt the pickles.

                                                                                      Now I like to leave my jars work for about 10 days but, I have done them for as little as 7 and as much as 14 days. Each different length of days gives you a slightly different texture. The 7 to 10 day ones are crisper.

                                                                                      After working (fermenting) place jars in the refrigerator. They may be eaten the next day.

                                                                                      I got this recipe from an old Jewish friend of mine many years ago and when my son visited New York last year he had a sandwich in a deli near Carnegie Hall. They served him their kosher dills and he said to me , "Dad they tasted just like yours." I said, "No, mine taste just like theirs."

                                                                                      Now you see, it's not difficult but, it does take a little time, but, it's well worth it and you can make one or twenty at a time, as many as you like. I will caution you though be careful who you serve them to, because they may be like my granddaughter and become addicted to them

                                                                                      5 Replies
                                                                                      1. re: Wtg2Retire

                                                                                        A couple of thoughts: The salt can be an issue because canning salt might be a different grain size so the measurements can be quite imprecise. Or they may match up exactly. No way to know. Is canning salt coarse like Kosher salt or fine like Pickling salt? A tablespoon per cup equals about a cup per gallon. That's right if it's Kosher salt but would be a double-strength brine of fine grained pickling salt.

                                                                                        On the pickling spices, I think the cassia (cinnamon) and allspice are non-starters. I think they're way too sweet. But if you like them, God bless.

                                                                                        I do the overnight ice-water bath thing. I talk about it in the other thread. I think it helps, but who really knows. Can't hurt.

                                                                                        1. re: acgold7

                                                                                          Good gracious, I learned someting today; I had no idea that cassia and cinnamon were the same. I knew the allspice was a no go, but it easy to pick it out of a pickling spice mixture normally. And I never said I like sweet sour pickles, I said I thought the list of the contents of the pickling mixture was interesting.

                                                                                          I cannot answer your comments about the salt: I was just passing on a recipe that a gentleman on another site has been making for years and had good luck with.

                                                                                          1. re: Wtg2Retire

                                                                                            Well, cassia is not really cinnamon. True cinnamon comes from the bark of a specific kind of tree and has a much more delicate flavor than cassia. True cinnamon is sort of a light beige color and soft, a bit like balsa wood (it crumbles easily) whereas cassia is a darker, rusty color and rigid. Chances are the "cinnamon" you're used to eating is cassia.

                                                                                            Mr Taster

                                                                                            1. re: Mr Taster

                                                                                              So, is cassia as an ingredient of pickling spice a non-starter? Thanks.

                                                                                              1. re: brson

                                                                                                Cassia has no place in the pickling-spice pantheon of kosher dill pickles.

                                                                                                Mr Taster

                                                                                      2. Just found some flowering dill at the farmers market. So looking forward to my first batch with the good stuff!

                                                                                        1. Hopefully someone is still checking out this board. I started my pickles yesterday, so I'm just into the process and it just got cold out here, so I'm letting them sit out for a few days instead of putting them in the fridge.

                                                                                          But, here is my question. With store bought pickles I can keep them in the fridge for ages with no real deterioration. With this method, the longer they ferment in the brine the more sour they get. I assume this process continues.

                                                                                          So do these pickles have a "use by" data before they either become too sour or too fermented to really be worth eating? I'd love to do a larger batch so that I have pickles on hand for a while but it seems like that might actually just end up with too many pickles that I can't eat quickly enough . . .


                                                                                          4 Replies
                                                                                          1. re: thimes

                                                                                            That's certainly a possibility. The best way to determine how long your pickles will keep is to make a batch and observe them. Your climate, fridge settings, etc. all play a unique role in determining how long lour pickles will last.

                                                                                            Mr Taster

                                                                                            1. re: Mr Taster

                                                                                              Is there a "general window" for keeping them? Say if it takes 3 weeks for them to ferment to "sour" pickles - are they good for 3 more weeks - 3 months - 3 days?

                                                                                              I kind of want to taste them already LOL but I'll wait!

                                                                                            2. re: thimes

                                                                                              Mine last a full year in the fridge. I put them in the fridge as half-sours and they very slowly progress to full-sours as they age. They stay firm but lose a bit of crunchiness over the course of the year, but they are still fantastic.

                                                                                              If I have any left after a year I chop them (with some of the garlic cloves) for sour pickle relish and they keep fine for two more years.

                                                                                              1. re: acgold7

                                                                                                acgold, I'm just comin to your house and eatin yours :)

                                                                                            3. Mr. Taster, please tell Rabbi Moe "Tov Todah. Kol HaKavod!"

                                                                                              14 Replies
                                                                                              1. re: PotatoHouse

                                                                                                I made the pickles and the first taste after 3 days was ok, but they were very salty. I let them go about 8 days and then I took them out and put them in the fridge with water,because I think they were too salty. ALso, some of the pickles had mushy spots, like air pockets in them. WHat happened. I will try this again but with Persian pickles.

                                                                                                1. re: lilmomma

                                                                                                  If they were too salty at first then your brine may have been too strong. This can happen if you don't use the right kind of salt, i.e. the grain size was too small and you ended up using twice as much as you thought you did. As noted above and in other threads, if you don't measure by weight it is easy to get this wrong. What type of salt did you use?

                                                                                                  About mushy spots: on the outside or inside? "Bloaters" sometimes just happen; they balloon up and some say the overnight soaking in ice water before the brining can prevent this. Using freshly picked, smaller cukes surely can. Soft spots on the outside are signs of rot and they should be discarded.

                                                                                                  1. re: acgold7

                                                                                                    I used a fine kosher sea salt. How much should it be by weight. I used 6 tbsp. The mushy spots were on the inside. "Bloaters" sounds like the appropriate term. I did soak them in an ice bath first.

                                                                                                    1. re: lilmomma

                                                                                                      6 Tbsp to how much water? The proper ratio is about 5.5 to 6 oz by weight to one gallon of water, or about one cup of coarse or 1/2 cup of fine salt per gallon. Sea salt is not a good choice because it contains other minerals, which you want to avoid, generally speaking.

                                                                                                      Moe's recipe above calls for Diamond Crystal and I think this is very important.

                                                                                                      1. re: lilmomma

                                                                                                        Please reread my original post CAREFULLY.

                                                                                                        Follow the directions EXACTLY.

                                                                                                        That means use 2 TBSP DIAMOND KOSHER SALT. Not fine grain kosher sea salt, whatever that is. But as acgold7 says, if you're going to use some other kind of salt, weigh it out to about 20g.

                                                                                                        All the information you need is posted above, clearly (though not succinctly).

                                                                                                        Mr Taster

                                                                                                          1. re: Mr Taster

                                                                                                            Just to put it in context - I used Morton Course Kosher Salt. I Tbs is about 20g with that brand.

                                                                                                            1. re: thimes

                                                                                                              But again, to reiterate, Morton's is a different grain size than Diamond, so volume measures are not the same. You must go by weight in this case.

                                                                                                              Cook's has documented this. 1/2 cup Table salt = 3/4 cup Morton's Kosher = 1 cup Diamond Kosher.

                                                                                                                1. re: acgold7

                                                                                                                  I once bought an off-brand of kosher salt. The grains were more like pebbles. Tiny little rocks that would resist dissolving in a cold water brine. Diamond Kosher salt is really the best one out there... the crystals are just the right size, dissolves with ease, and they provide enough surface friction between your fingers that it is easy to carefully season your meat without losing grains as you would with a Morton table salt, for example.

                                                                                                                  Mr Taster

                                                                                                                  1. re: Mr Taster

                                                                                                                    Absolutely. The Gold Standard. And cheap.

                                                                                                              1. re: Mr Taster

                                                                                                                I love how hard it was to find Diamond Kosher Salt in my non Jewish community or anywhere close but when located it I was/am thrilled. I have a 3lb box of the stuff.

                                                                                                                1. re: iL Divo

                                                                                                                  now u will be able to kasher all your meat!!

                                                                                                          2. re: lilmomma

                                                                                                            Yeah, you just have to go by weight. You can get by with volume since some people have figured out the ratio with particular salts.

                                                                                                            I prefer to use sea salt and I go by weight. Even if I end up switching salts it won't affect the the product.

                                                                                                            But something else I've noticed about salinity. The acidity of the brine really affects the *perception* of the saltiness of the pickle, to me at least.

                                                                                                            After fermenting to a full sour, I transferred some of the pickles to a fresh brine. Without the lactic acid in the old brine I was picking up a much stronger saltiness while the other pickles I kept in the brine tasted balanced. Kinda weird.

                                                                                                        1. I've been making pickles for years, learning from my mom, and it is basically your recipe. A couple of weeks ago I put up a jar and when they were ready I went to try them and they all were deflated. They were solid when I bought them, but when I cut into them the center had just deflated. Wonder if it was just a bad patch, or if I did something wrong?

                                                                                                          3 Replies
                                                                                                          1. re: paprkutr

                                                                                                            Have you read all the interim posts in this thread about everything that could have gone wrong? Have you followed all the steps recommended in terms of skimming and keeping the pickles submerged? Did you monitor them to make sure they didn't over-ferment?

                                                                                                            Sometimes it is just a bad batch but there are things that can go wrong in the process.

                                                                                                            1. re: acgold7

                                                                                                              thank you. Yes I did, I think I must have gotten a bad batch

                                                                                                              1. re: paprkutr

                                                                                                                Thems the breaks sometimes with fermented products.

                                                                                                          2. OK guys, OP here. Rabbi Marcus was kind enough to sell me a small quantity of his pickling spice. It arrived yesterday. Take a look at the attached photo (sorry for the poor quality-- it's a camera phone). It appears to me to contain:

                                                                                                            1. Several bay leaves
                                                                                                            2. Several dried red chiles
                                                                                                            3. A whole lot of coriander
                                                                                                            4. A whole lot of mustard seeds
                                                                                                            5. A little allspice(!)
                                                                                                            6. A little clove(!!)

                                                                                                            So, there it is folks. Kosher pickling spice, demystified. I'll try to post a better quality photo once I get my hands on a real camera.

                                                                                                            Mr Taster

                                                                                                            5 Replies
                                                                                                            1. re: Mr Taster

                                                                                                              OK, let's post the pic for real this time.

                                                                                                              Mr Taster

                                                                                                                1. re: cacio e pepe

                                                                                                                  On closer inspection, I see DILL SEED.

                                                                                                                  Also, some rather peculiar red triangle shaped spice.

                                                                                                                  Macro photos forthcoming.

                                                                                                                  Mr Taster

                                                                                                                  1. re: Mr Taster

                                                                                                                    This recipe for homemade pickling spice, from an old newspaper, may give an idea of what's in the the pickling spice sample that Mr Taster is trying to analyze, and maybe the quantities.

                                                                                                                    Source: Feb 1976 newspaper, Cecily Brownstone Associated Press Food Edtior column. (found in the Google newspaper archive).

                                                                                                                    According to the article, after a number of brands of commercial mixed pickling spice
                                                                                                                    were analyzed, the below recipe was developed.

                                                                                                                    (Paraphrased recipe instructions)

                                                                                                                    Homemade Mixed Pickling Spice

                                                                                                                    4 Cinnamon sticks, each about 3 inches long
                                                                                                                    1 dried ginger root, 1 inch long
                                                                                                                    2 Tablespoons yellow mustard seed
                                                                                                                    2 teaspoons whole allspice
                                                                                                                    2 teaspoons whole black pepper (peppercorns)
                                                                                                                    2 teaspoons whole cloves
                                                                                                                    2 teaspoons dill seed
                                                                                                                    2 teaspoons coriander seed
                                                                                                                    2 teaspoons whole mace, crumbled medium fine
                                                                                                                    8 bay leaves, crumbled medium fine
                                                                                                                    1 whole red pepper, 1 1/2 inches long (chopped medium fine)

                                                                                                                    Wrap up the cinnamon sticks and dried ginger root in a clean cloth - like an old dish towel. Bash with a mallet or a hammer until they are finely crumbled; the stringy part of the dried ginger root may be discarded. Mix bashed bits with the remaining ingredients and thoroughly stir all of them together. Store in a container that has a tight fitting lid.
                                                                                                                    Makes 2/3 cup.

                                                                                                                    Link to article and original recipe

                                                                                                                    1. re: Antilope

                                                                                                                      you are duh bom Antilope, always so very helpful, I appreciate you for your efforts always.

                                                                                                            2. w00t!

                                                                                                              Success! I couldn't stand it any longer....last weekend, I cut one of my pickles in half....okay, but not great...threw the uneaten half back in the brine for a few more days.

                                                                                                              Today...fished out the half....crunchy, salty, sour, garlicky as all get out, and just a nice amount of heat.

                                                                                                              Nice white color inside, and the properly dark green color outside. Smells great -- definitely smells like dill pickles! (Still looks awesome in the glass jar with all the dill and garlic floating around, too). Never once had any scum or years to skim off the top...the brine is a little cloudy and on the brown-ish side...but with the spices, I'd expect it to be.

                                                                                                              A little soft in the center...so next time I'll do the ice water bath (didn't see that until mine were in the jar)

                                                                                                              All in all, I'd give them a B -- way better than the pickles I can buy here, which rates them as a big success...Good enough to try again, but just short enough of perfect to keep me fiddling with the recipe to make it better. I'm pretty interested in Mr. Taster's re-analysis of the good Rabbi's pickling spices.

                                                                                                              But success! I'll share some with my Ukrainian friend this weekend and see what she says...but I see some hardcore pickle-packing in the weeks to come.

                                                                                                              I would definitely cut them in half and pack them into smaller jars -- the 1.5-litre jar just hogs too much fridge space -- had to move a shelf and everything is stacked oddly.

                                                                                                              Thanks, guys -- it was fun trying this...and now I'm getting obsessed about what I'll change in the next batch....

                                                                                                              9 Replies
                                                                                                                1. re: sunshine842

                                                                                                                  Thanks for reporting back. What kind of cukes did you end up using? It's interesting that you never had to skim; I had tons of white scum/mold to skim pretty much every day after the first week of fermentation. I wonder if it's because the recipe I followed called for countertop fermentation as opposed to fridge fermentation...

                                                                                                                  1. re: Chris VR

                                                                                                                    I ended up using a small-ish Asian cucumber (labeled simply a cucumber) that I found at my local Asian grocery. They look something like this: http://www.sakata-eu.com/vegetables/p... -- shorter and more slender -- but look to be in the same general family -- than a English/European/burpless, but not as thick or bumpy as a Kirby or other pickling cucumber.

                                                                                                                    We were having a cool spell, so I let them sit on the counter for three days, then put them in the fridge for 10.

                                                                                                                    This has been the summer of Home Fermentation Experiments -- the pickles are great (and can be improved) -- I have two bottles of apricot liqueur sealed and aging in the basement, and will bottle my mirabelle (a tiny but gorgeous little Alsatian plum) liqueur this weekend -- it'll be ready to drink after Thanksgiving dinner....so if THOSE go well, too, I'll be playing around with more home fermentation in the future. (bummer...I'm the only one who eats sauerkraut though, so that'll likely still be bought from the Alsatian butcher who makes such delicious wine kraut)

                                                                                                                    1. re: sunshine842

                                                                                                                      Interesting cucumber. They look like Persians, which I have decent success with. I never did care for the pickles that came from my experiments with Japanese cucumbers, though. They were always a bit soft. Frankly, there is a reason that the Kirby cucumber is the most popular cultivar used for kosher dills -- they turn out the crunchiest. I rate Persians a close, but clear, second.

                                                                                                                      At Chris VR -- I suspect that's the difference. I always counter-top ferment and I tend to get a fair amount of mold and scum. Or I did until I began to fully cover my containers. I rest a plastic lid made for my big plastic bucket but I don't seal it. This allows gas out but minimizes mold and yeast. It hasn't solved the issue, but it's much better than it was when I just covered with a few flour sack towels. And I skim everyday or so anyway just to clear any herb/spice floaters.

                                                                                                                      1. re: cacio e pepe

                                                                                                                        On all my fermentations (I've done five now), I've had a minimal amount of scum, if any. That's with a 1-2 day room temp fermentation (max), with the lid on slightly ajar (or with an air vent poked through).

                                                                                                                        You did admit in a prior post that you:

                                                                                                                        >> let (your) pickles ferment at room temp for far longer than (I) do

                                                                                                                        So that certainly could explain your proliferation of pickle scum.

                                                                                                                        Mr Taster

                                                                                                                        1. re: Mr Taster

                                                                                                                          I would assume so. The pickle scum doesn't bother me in the slightest though. It's all part of this old world technique, I think. I rarely get much scum these days.

                                                                                                                        2. re: cacio e pepe

                                                                                                                          I promise I would have used Kirbys had I been able to find them...but alas, they just don't seem to be sold here in the Paris region. I can't buy the tiny little cukes used to make cornichons, either...I have NO CLUE where people get the ingredients to make cornichons here, because they're not at the market, and they're not in the supermarkets, but I sincerely doubt they're all homegrown....(I love those little guys, too...but they're cheap and easy to find, so *gasp* I just buy a jar of them, and they're quite good)

                                                                                                                          I ended up using the Asian ones because they weren't as goofily enormous as the European cukes, and they felt a little more solid, too. I tend to keep an eye out for "oddball" produce, so if and as I ever find Kirbys, I'll buy a ton of 'em -- I looked for them, but they're just not here (and as we head into the cooler months, I'm pretty doubtful I'll find them)

                                                                                                                          Here's a question for the Pickle Gods -- if I were to slice the cukes into thick chunks, is the fermentation time any shorter? I'm waffling between deciding that the fermentation time would be shorter because of increased surface area of the pickles...versus increased fermentation time because the brine would be somewhat diluted by the liquid in the cukes themselves......help?

                                                                                                                          1. re: sunshine842

                                                                                                                            Better to make do than to await the perfect circumstances! I just remembered my Japanese cucumbers yielded softer pickles and thought that might have a connection to your situation as you said you purchased yours at an Asian grocer.

                                                                                                                            I've never tried that. One of the rate limiting steps is getting the culture going. That wouldn't be sped up, I don't think. The actual preservation of the cucumbers should definitely speed up. I would give it a try with your regular brine strength and then see what happens. While I think that the brine will be diluted more by the chunky pieces, I don't think it would alter your brine by more than a 1%. See how it goes.

                                                                                                                            1. re: cacio e pepe

                                                                                                                              It also crossed my mind to get the brine started with whole or halves, then cutting them into chunks or spears when they get to where I want...

                                                                                                                              These are a *little* soft in the middle, but the outsides are definitely crisp and crunchy...so I'll see if the cold-water bath fixes that (that's the easy fix to make!)

                                                                                                                              The 1,5-litre jar looks terrific, but the whole cukes are a little to big to eat as a single serving (a half is about the same size as a regular US commercial whole dill - the ones in jars, not the big whole ones you'd buy at a deli counter) -- so I'm thinking cutting them in half might be the best option all round.

                                                                                                                  2. Thank you Moe, Rabbi Marcus and Mr Taster. My sister,who is a court clerk, has been looking for this recipe for years after a Jewish judge promised her this recipe and sadly had a stroke before he could pass it on to her

                                                                                                                    1. Just started yesterday a new batch with Rabbi Marcus' pickling spice, and some kirbys that I found at the farmers market. Couldn't find flowering dill anywhere. This is my first batch with the Rabbi's spice. I know it's been a while... I just couldn't bring myself to finish the pickles I had made with the clove-and-cinnamon heavy spice I got from Penzey's, but eventually I just mustered up the courage and flushed the cinnamon brine (and tainted pickles) away.

                                                                                                                      Will let you know how the real thing progresses....

                                                                                                                      Mr Taster

                                                                                                                      3 Replies
                                                                                                                      1. re: Mr Taster

                                                                                                                        Makes you want to cry to have to flush a load of pickles away... Don't you have any goy friends who like sweet-ish pickles? ;-)

                                                                                                                        1. re: Mr Taster

                                                                                                                          you did better than me -- I put my cukes in a big Tupperware of water, stuck them in the fridge, and promptly forgot about them (it's been a running-around-with-my-hair-on-fire couple of weeks).

                                                                                                                          When I finally remembered they were in there, they were starting get a little funky. Meh. After Thanksgiving I'll start again.

                                                                                                                          1. re: Mr Taster

                                                                                                                            Mr Taster, thank you for this wonderful thread. Your labor is loved. Is pickle history at its finest.

                                                                                                                            Mrs. Neusihin’s were my favorite pickles growing up. Had a whitish substance which would settle to the bottom and make the brine cloudy when shaken (not so transparent). Vinegar has been added to the pickles now bearing the Mrs. Neusihin label now made in India like Steinfeld's, Nalley, etc. There is a great quote at: http://www.oregonlive.com/mix/index.s... “Vinegar!” exclaims Lisa Neusihin in horror. “My grandmother would be rolling over in her grave 150 times!”

                                                                                                                            Dry dill weed and dill seed are common here and always available. Has anyone had experience making pickles using either (or a combination) when unable to find flowering dill? If so how much was used? Seems would work in a pinch. I know it goes to the artistry side of things, while your comment "Couldn't find find flowering dill anywhere" got me to think of how we can make artsy pickles in the off-season when flowering dill is impossible to find.

                                                                                                                          2. I sort of quickly skimmed through this and one thing I'm not sure of is, long term storage.

                                                                                                                            You say they get mushy in the middle if you leave in the brine too long. So what do you do after 3 weeks?? I'd like to make enough to last a couple months at least.


                                                                                                                            6 Replies
                                                                                                                            1. re: Davwud

                                                                                                                              I keep mine in the fridge for at least a year and while they don't exactly stay crisp, they are firm, neither mushy nor crunchy.

                                                                                                                              1. re: acgold7

                                                                                                                                Just leave the brine alone??


                                                                                                                                1. re: Davwud

                                                                                                                                  This is tricky. I've had pickles go bad on me- all pink and moldy. Remember, pickles are a bacterial balancing act. You are trying to create a liquid environment which encourages the friendly fermenting bacteria to remain in charge and keep the nasty ones in check. That's why the salt:water ratio is so important. I don't know if my last batch went bad because the salt concentration was off, or if it is because I unwittingly introduced some foreign funky bug in to the batch. Either way, it was bad-- but it wasn't at first. There was a period of time where the pickles were perfectly crunchy and edible.

                                                                                                                                  Mr Taster

                                                                                                                                  1. re: Mr Taster

                                                                                                                                    This is probably a dumb question- but if some of my pickles molded due to forgetting to weight my plate that was submerging them in the brine **places hands on head in disgruntled frustration**- do I need to toss the entire batch? Or can I pull the 10 moldy/slimy ones? AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!

                                                                                                                                    Bascially- I can't find pickling spice ANYWHERE (so I went on with just garlic, dill & peppercorns)...my first purchase of cukes ended up being bad (vendor buried all the bad ones under a layer of good ones), forgot to weight the plate AND I skipped spring water thinking tap should be fine but am now questioning this decision! This was not my year for pickling:o/ Do I need to toss the batch and try again next year?

                                                                                                                                    1. re: missgabbiegirl

                                                                                                                                      Toss the moldy pickles. Make sure the others are weighted down well. Skim any mold or scum you find floating. Tap water is fine. Your spice blend is fine.

                                                                                                                                      See my hint directly below about how to sterilize the brine if you are concerned.

                                                                                                                                  2. re: Davwud

                                                                                                                                    For me, yes.

                                                                                                                                    Sometimes I pack the pickles into jars with some of the garlic, grape leaves and spices, and refrigerate them dry without the brine, and then strain, boil and cool the brine. When cool, add to the jars. This would sterilize the brine but not the pickles.

                                                                                                                                    Or you could cool the brine, after boiling, to about 140-150, and pour that over the cool pickles in the jars, which would be hot enough to kill any beasties but not cook the pickles, and might help them stay crunchy longer by arresting any further fermentation -- I've done this a couple of times and it seems to work, at the risk of possibly going too hot and maybe cooking the pickles a little.

                                                                                                                              2. Great info, we really enjoyed reading it! My husband's family came over during the war and had been in the fish brining business in the Netherlands. Every holiday, we would hear all the senior members of the family reminiscing about the pickles that were abundant in barrels and crocks. Our naive thinking at the time had been, how hard could this be, we'll whip up a batch. That was about 15 years ago. Every time we make them, someone mentions, no, no, they need a little more of this or that. Surprisingly, after this period of time, our trial-and-error recipe is very, very close to yours. We also live part-time in the L.A. area and have found your estimate to be dead-on, one to two days (depending on the weather). Sometimes three. We also grow our own olives and have always only brined them in Diamond Kosher salt -- no lye, no vinegar. We have become so fanatical about the pickles that we're now growing our pickling cukes and dill heads and flowers on a farm up north, but now I believe I must make my own pickling spice. I did find a recipe for pickling spice on a jewish food forum that seems somewhat close to what you described later down the thread of what was sent to you by the rabbi. Here's the link for that: http://www.jewishfood-list.com/recipe.... We still haven't achieved the perfection we've assigned these pickles in our minds, but with your tips, a new pickling spice, and Mo watching over us, we believe we're on our way. Thanks again!

                                                                                                                                1. these r the best!!!
                                                                                                                                  second time making them

                                                                                                                                  1. I got me some cukes at the farmers market on the weekend. I plan on getting the ball rolling tonight.


                                                                                                                                    1 Reply
                                                                                                                                    1. re: Davwud

                                                                                                                                      it is easy to prepare with delicious results

                                                                                                                                    2. I didn't have the deli container you mentioned so I used an extra large Mason Jar. Covered it with some plastic wrap.

                                                                                                                                      Anyway, we're away to the races.


                                                                                                                                      10 Replies
                                                                                                                                      1. re: Davwud

                                                                                                                                        Looks great. Don't worry, they didn't have plastic deli containers in the Lower East Side 100 years ago, either.

                                                                                                                                        The important thing is to keep the pickles entirely submerged in brine. The tips that stick up above the surface of the water will not pickle.

                                                                                                                                        Mr Taster

                                                                                                                                        1. re: Mr Taster

                                                                                                                                          Everything is submerged. Those pickles are rammed in there.

                                                                                                                                          I do have one concern. Above you talked about cloves in pickling spice. I notice this one has a strong bouquet of clove. I'm wondering how it'll taste. Next time I may take some of the cloves out. They're pretty easy to spot.


                                                                                                                                          1. re: Davwud

                                                                                                                                            I don't mind the cloves-

                                                                                                                                            do u use prepared pickling spices or mix your own?

                                                                                                                                            most of the time i use www.savoryspiceshop.com pickling sices

                                                                                                                                            what r considered kosher dill spices?
                                                                                                                                            juniper berries
                                                                                                                                            celery/dill seeds
                                                                                                                                            mustard seeds
                                                                                                                                            bay leaf

                                                                                                                                            1. re: jpr54_1

                                                                                                                                              I think we bought Bernardin's pickling spice.


                                                                                                                                              1. re: jpr54_1

                                                                                                                                                I bought pickling spice today and it already had in its mixture cloves/fennel seed/cinnamon oil. don't think I'll be using it for any future pickles :(

                                                                                                                                              2. re: Davwud

                                                                                                                                                The pickling spice that I got from the rabbi does contain cloves, though very few. It seems to be primarily coriander and mustard seed, with the odd clove, bay leaf, and chili pepper scattered throughout. No cinnamon.

                                                                                                                                                Mr Taster

                                                                                                                                                1. re: Mr Taster

                                                                                                                                                  Okay, I let them sit on my widow sill for a day and a half. Put them in the fridge yesterday morning and noticed a bit of cloudiness.

                                                                                                                                                  Last night when I had to move them out of the way I noticed they weren't jammed down on the bottom anymore. I squished them back down and all seem fine now.

                                                                                                                                                  A couple things. The brine is turning a bit of a brownish colour. I'm assuming that's from brown coloured pickling spice ingredients. So I'm not concerned. Also, they already smell awesome.

                                                                                                                                                  Depending on how well this goes we're talking about making 3 batches and pulling at 1, 2 and 3 week intervals to see what brining length we prefer.


                                                                                                                                                  1. re: Davwud

                                                                                                                                                    The brine is supposed to get cloudy.

                                                                                                                                                    1. re: acgold7

                                                                                                                                                      Well, to be more precise, it *becomes* cloudy as a byproduct of the natural fermentation.

                                                                                                                                                      Mr Taster

                                                                                                                                                      1. re: Mr Taster

                                                                                                                                                        You're right... I have amended my response above.

                                                                                                                                          2. I've finally found a solution to the problem of not being able to find dill suitable for pickle making. This year, I'm growing my own. They're still just tiny seedlings, but they're looking good so far. I'm also attempting to grow my own pickling cucumbers, but something keep eating the baby plants. In any case, I'm anticipating making a ton of pickles in the fall!

                                                                                                                                            1. Got a follow-up question about storage.

                                                                                                                                              I have a batch of cukes fermenting as we speak. Once they're fully ready, how do you go about storing them without having to take up a ton of fridge space? Once fermented, can you just out the lid on and stick em on a shelf?

                                                                                                                                              1 Reply
                                                                                                                                              1. re: biggreenmatt

                                                                                                                                                Your pickles are alive. Whether in the fridge or on your shelf, the bugs converting the cucumbers into pickles do not stop working.

                                                                                                                                                The only difference is that keeping your pickles cold makes the buggers sleepy, and slows down the fermentation process, so that your pickles will remain edible for a longer period of time.

                                                                                                                                                If you leave them on the shelf, the bugs will become more active and will turn your pickles into rotten cucumbers more quickly.

                                                                                                                                                Mr Taster

                                                                                                                                              2. I'm about to try this for the first time. I wonder how this recipe here says to ferment for 2-3 days for half sours? http://fakeitfrugal.blogspot.ca/2011/...

                                                                                                                                                19 Replies
                                                                                                                                                1. re: 1newyorkguy

                                                                                                                                                  Well, Moe's recipe has the cucumbers ferment just for one day before going in the fridge, so certainly 2-3 days at room temperature (depending on the climate where you live) would accelerate the fermentation process and could yield quicker results. I'd be curious to hear how this goes for you.

                                                                                                                                                  Mr Taster

                                                                                                                                                  1. re: Mr Taster

                                                                                                                                                    Thanks for this thread, I'm in vancouver bc and there are NO half-sours in the entire city from what I've gathered.

                                                                                                                                                    How important is it for the cukes to be 100% submerged? Some of mine tips' are poking above the brine..I have tried to weigh them down with dill and a thai chili pepper.

                                                                                                                                                    Also, I couldn't find coriander seeds so I put in ground coriander...it seems like a lot of my pickling spice has dropped to the bottom of the containers..do you suggest I mix w/ a spoon at this point?

                                                                                                                                                    I think I read this online, so what I've done is fill tiny zip lock bags with a bit of water, and then lay those on top of the pickles to keep them submerged. This doesn't allow the top of the deli container to close very well (I know it isn't supposed to lock, but I'm not sure how much space is okay). And then I've covered them all with a dish towel.

                                                                                                                                                    1. re: 1newyorkguy

                                                                                                                                                      The water bags are a fine idea. You want to keep the tips submerged because anything that sticks out of the top surface of the bring will not ferment.

                                                                                                                                                      Mr Taster

                                                                                                                                                      1. re: 1newyorkguy

                                                                                                                                                        They have to be fully submerged or in addition to not fermenting, they may get contaminated by mold. If well packed, they may stay down on their own, but if not - they'll bob up.
                                                                                                                                                        Fill the bags with the same density salt solution rather than water. I use a big freezer bag that fills the whole vessel to keep everything down (I use a ~ 4L food grade HDPE container - bought at Dunlevy in YVR). The spices will settle - that's fine. Don't mix - you don't want to mix any scum from the surface (skim any scum off periodically).
                                                                                                                                                        Don't seal off the vessel - fermentation generates gas (CO2) that needs to escape. Just rest a cover on it to limit contamination.

                                                                                                                                                        1. re: kinnickinnik

                                                                                                                                                          That sounds like good advice. One thing to remember is that the cucumbers will lose water and shrink a bit so what was a tightly packed jar of cukes can end up loosening their mutual grips on their brethren and freestyle to the surface at the first

                                                                                                                                                          chance they get.. chance t

                                                                                                                                                          1. re: kinnickinnik

                                                                                                                                                            how long before a floater's top rots? I'm not sure how long mine were floating for overnight.

                                                                                                                                                            also, is there a consensus on leaving vs replacing the brine vs boiling and replacing the brine before the fridge stage?

                                                                                                                                                            1. re: 1newyorkguy

                                                                                                                                                              Why in the world would you boil the brine? That would kill off all the bacteria that's working to convert your cucumbers to pickles. If you have the right salinity to water ratio, that will create the best environment for the good pickle-making bacteria to thrive, whilst simultaneously suppressing the bacteria that causes rotting. You'd be doing yourself a disservice in boiling by making the little buggers start their hard work all over again.

                                                                                                                                                              As for rotting tops, it all depends on your climate, environment, temperature, wild buggers in the air, etc.

                                                                                                                                                              Mr Taster

                                                                                                                                                              1. re: Mr Taster

                                                                                                                                                                Do the tops rot quicker when their bodies are being brined? If I leave a cucumber out for two days it won't rot..

                                                                                                                                                                I suppose boiling the brine would make sense if you allowed a full fermentation outside the fridge and now you want them to stay good for a few months? Is there any reason not to do this? I assume it would be quicker than finishing the fermentation in the fridge.

                                                                                                                                                                Also, do I have to worry about my garlic floating up and being exposed to air?

                                                                                                                                                                1. re: 1newyorkguy

                                                                                                                                                                  No, please don't boil. Sure, they won't keep as long with a living brine but boiling would kill the gut-friendly bacteria that convey the health benefits of fermented pickles.
                                                                                                                                                                  The fridge will slow them down but they will continue to ferment - and eventually soften over time. Eat 'em up while fresh.

                                                                                                                                                                  I move mine to jars for storage, and top up with enough brine to cover. I also retain some excess brine to add to various things.

                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: kinnickinnik

                                                                                                                                                                    you leave the original brine in your jars? how long do those last?

                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: 1newyorkguy

                                                                                                                                                                      also..do the tops need to be submerged even in the fridge period?

                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: 1newyorkguy

                                                                                                                                                                        I think it's less critical to keep them submerged and they seem to settle more after brined. Just go in with a clean fork or tongs.

                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: kinnickinnik

                                                                                                                                                                          without the bags to weigh them down, they are poking above the water line a bit now in the fridge...I added some plain water to them to fill em up, hopefully that is okay rather than adding more brine.

                                                                                                                                                                          I tried a couple...a bit salty, but quite good. I put a thai chili in each though, and it is spicier than I would prefer--and I'm a heat seeker. I wonder if pickling brings out the heat? I took a tiny nibble of a pepper and it blew my mind.

                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: 1newyorkguy

                                                                                                                                                                            fish the chili out, then. At least you can stop the burn from intensifying.

                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: 1newyorkguy


                                                                                                                                                                              Between all of your boiling and diluting, it seems you're doing everything you possibly can to make life terribly inhospitable for those kindly bacteria that are doing all your pickle conversion work for you.

                                                                                                                                                                              It's like you're setting fire to your factory but still expecting your workers to produce results.

                                                                                                                                                                              Reread what I originally wrote re: the art versus the science of pickle making.

                                                                                                                                                                              Mr Taster

                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: Mr Taster

                                                                                                                                                                                I never boiled, though I read quite a few recipes saying to boil, strain, cool, and then add back to store the pickles.

                                                                                                                                                                                Do they need to be submerged even while in the fridge stage?

                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: 1newyorkguy

                                                                                                                                                                                  YES. Read the original post -- it's all there in great detail.

                                                                                                                                                                                  Don't boil.
                                                                                                                                                                                  Don't add plain water.

                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: sunshine842

                                                                                                                                                                                    should one add fresh brine before going in the fridge to make sure they are submerged? should the tops be sealed shut once they are put in fridge?

                                                                                                                                                                        2. re: 1newyorkguy

                                                                                                                                                                          couple of weeks to a month? Depends on how far along they were when refrigerated. They're still fine to eat for a while longer but keep fermenting (though more slowly) past the half-sour stage. I eat as long a texture is good (no mush or slime).
                                                                                                                                                                          and not fingers.

                                                                                                                                                        2. Just spotted on the NYT site - a Q&A with Sandor Katz ("Wild Fermentation")

                                                                                                                                                          1. After reading your threads on pickling spice, I actually found this spice on Amazon, and it appears it has the ingredients you discussed, while leaving out the ones you thought should be left out. I ordered two containers, in case there's a run on it. Here's the link: http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B000...

                                                                                                                                                            3 Replies
                                                                                                                                                            1. re: kakeeler

                                                                                                                                                              Did you try this spice mix yet? It looks good.

                                                                                                                                                              1. re: meatn3

                                                                                                                                                                Yes, I did. It seems a little stronger than the average pickling spice, so I put in too much. I liked the flavor it gave and would order it again, if I don't run out of the pounds of it I bought!

                                                                                                                                                                1. re: kakeeler

                                                                                                                                                                  kakee, portion it out to all of us. hahahahaha

                                                                                                                                                            2. I'm late to this party and there are a whole lot of posts to read to see if this question has been covered so I apologize if it has and I missed it.

                                                                                                                                                              Mr. Taster,

                                                                                                                                                              No way I can resist trying this, but.............

                                                                                                                                                              1. I'd assume that the recipe can be multiplied to fit a larger container like the one from the 62oz Carnegie Deli pickles I get at Costco....... right?

                                                                                                                                                              2. If it's multiplied......... is this based solely on the size of the container? ie- not related to how many cucumbers fit in the space compared to 32 oz.

                                                                                                                                                              16 Replies
                                                                                                                                                              1. re: Midlife

                                                                                                                                                                Just couldn't wait to get started so I doubled the recipe and things are into their first 24 hours.

                                                                                                                                                                One question................. the cucumbers filled the entire height of the jar with just enough room for the brine and dill to cover their tops. I drilled a few holes in the lid but there is VERY little space between the top of the brine and the lid. Am I looking at an overflow potential when things start bubbling?

                                                                                                                                                                1. re: Midlife

                                                                                                                                                                  doubtful. Mine never bubbled or foamed significantly.

                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: Midlife

                                                                                                                                                                    Mine definitely released some gas as a byproduct of natural fermentation but it wasn't a huge amount. I have not had success with doubling or tripling the recipe, though I'm not sure why it didn't work out. I also have not had much success using kirby pickles-- results much better with Persian cucumbers.

                                                                                                                                                                    Mr Taster

                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: Mr Taster

                                                                                                                                                                      Thanks Mr.T. I'll report back what happens.

                                                                                                                                                                      Interesting..... almost all the Persian cucs I see are rather thin whereas the 'real' deli dills I remember from NYC were pretty fat in comparison. We'll see,

                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: Midlife

                                                                                                                                                                        Persians are thin. The real fat deli dills are Kirbys. Read back in the thread history about them... basically Persians are easier to work with for novice pickle makers because they give off less water. As a result it's easier to keep the saline balance (and therefore fermentation) right when you use them.

                                                                                                                                                                        Mr Taster

                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: Mr Taster

                                                                                                                                                                          OK. The package didn't say Kirby and the cucs looked just right for what I like. I also have some Persians, so I'll try both. Can't have too many pickles around.

                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: Midlife

                                                                                                                                                                            This formula is calibrated for Persian cucumbers. If you go with a more watery cucumber, you'll need to increase the salinity of the water... but by how much, I couldn't tell you.

                                                                                                                                                                            My problem is that I hesitate toying with something that works, because I hate the idea of spending 3 weeks making something potentially inedible. (I just hate wasting food.)

                                                                                                                                                                            Mr Taster

                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: Mr Taster

                                                                                                                                                                              It's just that a 32oz jar just allows for only a few cucs. :o[

                                                                                                                                                                              I just set up some Persians, so we'll see. Gonna add some more salt to the bigger batch as you did.

                                                                                                                                                                              Curious as to why bottled water would be that much better than filtered tap water. I've seen articles that say a good filter makes the water "better' than bottled, but I'd guess that may depend on where you live.

                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: Midlife

                                                                                                                                                                                Either/or. You just don't want chlorine in your water or iodine in your salt. Both of those interfere with microbial growth. Both the bad guys and the good guys. The only reason why this works is that the salt allows the good guys to establish a colony before the bad guys. You want to do everything available to help those good guys establish a fast foothold.

                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: cacio e pepe

                                                                                                                                                                                  That's it. You want to enable the buggers to work for you and the best way to do this is to start with a clean environment, clean bucket, clean water, etc.

                                                                                                                                                                                  Mr Taster

                                                                                                                                                                              2. re: Mr Taster

                                                                                                                                                                                Mr. Taster,

                                                                                                                                                                                Don't be frightened of tinkering. You will for sure end up with something edible that will not go to waste. The amount of water that kirby cucumbers add to the brine will never drop it below a safe level for fermentation. Think about most half sour recipes. They use as little as 2.5% salt and they don't spoil. With your technique of refrigerating so early in the process, I'm sure it'll be fine.

                                                                                                                                                                                I've used Persian cucumbers, Kirbys, large Gherkins I found at the farmers' market. All of them work out fine. Some better than others, but that's the fun of this process.

                                                                                                                                                                                Give it a go and see what happens. It'll be edible at the least and probably delicious.

                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: cacio e pepe

                                                                                                                                                                                  I am not really concerned with spoilage-- rather, I am concerned with how the pickles taste. My failed pickles have been largely the result of inadequate fermentation. Then I have to dump the whole thing after 3 weeks of waiting, and then I become depressed.

                                                                                                                                                                                  So, I have tinkered a bit before with questionable results. As Rabbi Pickle said, (paraphrasing) "If you add too much salt to the brine, they will ferment but will become inedible." He continues, "I've tried to use them in relish, in potato salad, but they're impossible to eat when they're too salty."

                                                                                                                                                                                  Because of this, I am very judicious with adding extra salt, and usually what happens is that I wind up with under fermented pickles. So I wait and wait for the full fermentation to take place (I'm a full sour kind of guy) but it never happens-- what winds up happening is that the quasi half-sours rot in the fridge. So this does not work well for me, and fuels my fear of tinkering.

                                                                                                                                                                                  Mr Taster

                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: Mr Taster

                                                                                                                                                                                    Oh that's too bad. I'm not sure what's happening with your pickles, to be honest.

                                                                                                                                                                                    I'll brine the same no matter the varietal. If they take longer to ferment, so be it. If they aren't as sour for one batch as they were for another, so be it. They are always good and they are sometimes extraordinary. Isn't that what's great about folk foodways?

                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: cacio e pepe

                                                                                                                                                                                      It's been a while since I've made a batch anyway. Now that I know where to get some flowering dill, I'm ready to give it a shot again.


                                                                                                                                                                                      Mr Taster

                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: Mr Taster

                                                                                                                                                                                        I do enjoy the flowering dill when it's available at the farmers' market, but I'm not sure I'm willing to go to Huntington Beach for the dill! I've been subbing in fresh+dill seed+dill pollen. Not the same, but close!

                                                                                                                                                                  2. Mr. Taster............................
                                                                                                                                                                    I am overly enthused to do this.
                                                                                                                                                                    Can not thank you enough for the info as well as the recipe.
                                                                                                                                                                    Probably as everyone else already mentioned, I'll post when the results are in.
                                                                                                                                                                    Anxious to get started.

                                                                                                                                                                    2 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: iL Divo

                                                                                                                                                                      No problem.... it's actually so easy to do. Just work with clean containers and fresh bottled water. Start with the basic recipe as written and tinker with it only once you've mastered the basic recipe.

                                                                                                                                                                      Mr Taster

                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: iL Divo

                                                                                                                                                                        they r really easy to make and taste very good

                                                                                                                                                                      2. I want to write this all in CAPS.
                                                                                                                                                                        But I won't :)
                                                                                                                                                                        Yesterday I finally found and bought 24 cukes the size I was looking for.
                                                                                                                                                                        I can't wait to make these pickles, I AM SO EXCITED TO SEE THE RESULTS.

                                                                                                                                                                        10 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: iL Divo

                                                                                                                                                                          be sure to use specified salt-
                                                                                                                                                                          if not, the liquid will get cloudy

                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: jpr54_1

                                                                                                                                                                            I am on my way out the door and not sure if I should call the market first or not to make sure they have Diamond Kosher Salt....may be a good idea to make some calls. Right now I'm checking the ingredients on my pickling spice, but I do have the dried little red peppers just in case my pickling spice doesn't have any in it.

                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: iL Divo

                                                                                                                                                                              the pickles will still taste good

                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: jpr54_1

                                                                                                                                                                                it wasn't as easy getting the Diamond Kosher Salt as I'd thought.
                                                                                                                                                                                I called the company and asked them via their customer service.
                                                                                                                                                                                she told me of a few or maybe even several markets albeit not even close to me at all, like 60+ miles away. anyone checked the price of gas lately? none of them had or carried it, so beware in case you need to call Diamond for a location also.
                                                                                                                                                                                not in any of my supermarkets or TJ's. called some Jewish deli's plus a few Kosher markets.
                                                                                                                                                                                there is a market called Fresh Food Market or something like that, anyway, they are listed in the yellow pages as Kosher and they carried it. just back from my trip there. what a great place for future reference.

                                                                                                                                                                                so, now I need to read recipe in it's entirety and ready myself for the fun of making pickles. maybe I mentioned yesterday while at the market, I bought 3 pkgs of short cucumbers that contain 8 cukes in each container so I'm set.
                                                                                                                                                                                OK, done. one package only into my container standing up, vertical as noted.
                                                                                                                                                                                Albertson's water in the 16.9 oz bottle is purified so didn't use that, instead had 2 bottles of Crystal Geyser that stated it's Spring water. used that. had to add a tiny bit more water and a tiny bit more salt as their heads were peeking out. dill on top, loose lid and here we go. can't wait to see outcome. want sours not new or semi sour.
                                                                                                                                                                                you mentioned no need to scoop scum so I won't.

                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: iL Divo

                                                                                                                                                                                  My pickles are still only at week 1.5 and I won't taste till next week, but I used Morton's instead of Diamond Crystal. While I'm sure the good Rabbi has a reason for using Diamond, I'm not so sure they "report to a higher authority". We'll see. ;o]

                                                                                                                                                                                  Apologies to Mr. Taster.

                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: Midlife

                                                                                                                                                                                    I only went on a driving rampage because I wanted to follow the recipe as was written above. now I can say I have enough Diamond Kosher salt to last a lifetime:)))))

                                                                                                                                                                                    let me ask you Mid, does your pickle juice smell like pickles yet or is there no smell?

                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: iL Divo

                                                                                                                                                                                      They do smell like pickles. I made two different batches and just cut a piece from one in each. The batch made with Persian cucs (pretty much exactly per the recipe) tastes heavily of garlic and salt right now; the other one (made from bigger cucs - probably kirbys and using twice the recipe in twice the size container) tastes really butter at this point.

                                                                                                                                                                                      I don't plan on trying again for 5+ days. I like really 'old' pickles, so we'll see how this goes, but the bitterness doesn't sound good for that batch.

                                                                                                                                                                                    2. re: Midlife

                                                                                                                                                                                      As we've noted many times here and elsewhere, Morton's and Diamond aren't equivalent in "saltiness" so you have to adjust the amount. A half cup of Diamond equals about 1/3 cup of Morton's Kosher -- which in turn equals about 1/4 cup of Morton's non-iodized Table. Not an issue if you measure by weight.

                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: acgold7

                                                                                                                                                                                        and then there are those of us for whom there isn't a box of Morton's or Diamond within a few thousand miles.

                                                                                                                                                                                        Use what you have.

                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: sunshine842

                                                                                                                                                                                          Assuming you have access to a digital scale that weighs in grams, then yes any salt will do (though the salt with a more rock-like, pebbly texture will not dissolve as easily as Diamond's small flake texture). If you're using a pebble salt, you may need to take the extra step of heating the water so the salt dissolves, then cooling it down before adding spices and cucumbers.

                                                                                                                                                                                          Mr Taster

                                                                                                                                                                          2. couple questions:
                                                                                                                                                                            can I make batch 2 in glass jar & if not why?
                                                                                                                                                                            is the standard salad cucumber a kirby but just really long? can I cut it & proceed pickling?
                                                                                                                                                                            I only have purified or Britta water, are either ok or do I need to buy spring?
                                                                                                                                                                            can I do a double batch meaning twice as much water/salt pickling spice/garlic? or no?
                                                                                                                                                                            in other words 2 packages = 16 cucumbers in the one container?

                                                                                                                                                                            hope I can cause it's done.
                                                                                                                                                                            we'll get the answer in about 3 weeks. I'm scared :O

                                                                                                                                                                            4 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: iL Divo

                                                                                                                                                                              Glass is fine. Standard salad cukes are not kirbys -- they have thicker skin and a different texture, but that doesn't mean you can't pickle them. I use tap water and have never used anything but, except for experimentation purposes, and I can tell you it doesn't make a bit of difference. I do my batches 30 pounds at a time in a ten-gallon food-grade bucket and everything works great.

                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: acgold7

                                                                                                                                                                                Somewhere above I reported that I've started two batches....... one of smaller Persians cucs, the other a variety that is larger at about 6" x 1.25"diameter but colored much like the Persians. The Persians seem headed in the right direction though somewhat salty and garlic-y at this point, while the others seem to be rather bitter after 10 days

                                                                                                                                                                                Any ideas for my bitter batch?

                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: Midlife

                                                                                                                                                                                  I have to apologize for not reading the posts before I dived or is it dove [either way] in.
                                                                                                                                                                                  either way, I bought and started because this sounded like such a great idea.
                                                                                                                                                                                  I'll read now and then I'll be more in-tune with what I can expect in 3 weeks less a couple of days.

                                                                                                                                                                                2. re: acgold7

                                                                                                                                                                                  sounds so good, oh, toss me one acgold

                                                                                                                                                                              2. I'm running through a plethora of pickling spice recipes and they mostly do all have the typical Autumn spices in them that one would use for Pumpkin pie or things like that.
                                                                                                                                                                                To me, those spices sound like a weird blend for use in Kosher pickles.
                                                                                                                                                                                here's the link for what Penzey's uses.


                                                                                                                                                                                2 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: iL Divo

                                                                                                                                                                                  I use Penzy"s pickling spice blend
                                                                                                                                                                                  good results
                                                                                                                                                                                  i sometimes add just 1 thai chile for spiceness

                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: jpr54_1

                                                                                                                                                                                    Penzey's pickling spice was covered above. Penzey's is run by Midwestern goys-- not New York Jews. There's too many sweet spices for a real traditional New York kosher dill (it's really meant for sweet bread & butter type pickles). But if you like them, more power to you.

                                                                                                                                                                                    Mr Taster

                                                                                                                                                                                2. update on both batches:
                                                                                                                                                                                  batch # 1. the brine is delicious. if the pickles taste like the brine come week 3 I'll be over the moon...sooo good.
                                                                                                                                                                                  batch # 2. made 1 day after batch 1, is surprisingly not nearly as flavorful. anxious to rest it tomorrow as it'll have caught up to (days wise) batch 1.

                                                                                                                                                                                  a bit more than 2 weeks to go....not that I'm counting or anything ;:-/

                                                                                                                                                                                  1. OK........ need some help.

                                                                                                                                                                                    First batch was made with Persian cukes and tastes pretty good at 3.5 weeks.; maybe a little saltier than I'm used to, but good enough. Second batch was made with same liquid but what I think are Kirby cukes. Same time elapsed, but the Kirby batch is very bitter tasting though the liquid tastes very much the same in both.

                                                                                                                                                                                    Any ideas on whether it's possible to doctor these somehow? Vinegar, sugar??????? Otherwise they'll likely have to be tossed pretty soon.

                                                                                                                                                                                    8 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: Midlife

                                                                                                                                                                                      that's a shame that they are so different.
                                                                                                                                                                                      I have no solution for you as I am not as close to having my 2 batches being done.
                                                                                                                                                                                      I think I have to go until the 26th and 27th or close to that.
                                                                                                                                                                                      removed the lids of both batches last night, they smell good but I know that is no guarantee.
                                                                                                                                                                                      I barely snipped the end off of one in first batch days ago and spit it out.
                                                                                                                                                                                      I hope that's not an indicator as to how the end result will turn out. :(

                                                                                                                                                                                      good luck Mid, hope you don't have to toss 'em.

                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: Midlife

                                                                                                                                                                                        Wish I could help. I've never been successful with kirbys. But I do have a wonderful batch of full sour Persian cucumbers in the fridge right now.

                                                                                                                                                                                        Mr Taster

                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: Mr Taster

                                                                                                                                                                                          how many weeks gave you full sours Mr. Taster?

                                                                                                                                                                                        2. re: Midlife

                                                                                                                                                                                          I have had success with kirbys but not witt persian cukes-

                                                                                                                                                                                          I have a sliced kirby's into slices and also spears- they both came outwell.

                                                                                                                                                                                          I also found my first batches of pickles to be too salty so I adjusted salt.

                                                                                                                                                                                          Mid, I would drain the pickles and add cider vinegar and a little sugar. Keep in refigerator.

                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: jpr54_1

                                                                                                                                                                                            That's what I was thinking. Certainly worth a try. Will report back.

                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: Midlife

                                                                                                                                                                                              It better work. My wife just turned thumbs down on the saltiness of even the Persian cucs.

                                                                                                                                                                                          2. re: Midlife

                                                                                                                                                                                            Hi, Midlife,

                                                                                                                                                                                            Sorry to read that your kirbys are not doing well. The fact that your Persians are doing just fine leads me to believe that it's a property of your particular kirbys that are affecting the outcome.

                                                                                                                                                                                            The skins are kirbys do tend to be more bitter than those of the Persians. The common supermarket cucumber has notoriously bitter skin, in fact. What goes in obviously affects what comes out so it would seem to me that the kirbys were bitter to start. Next time you can test a little of the raw kirby to see if it's tasty from the get go.

                                                                                                                                                                                            As to the salt issue, I really feel like this is a two-fold issue. It's possible that the starting salt concentration is too high. But more likely, the fermentation is just not producing enough lactic acid. I find that early in the process, the dominant flavor of the pickle is salty. Once the culture of lactobacillus gets going, though, the acidity begins to mitigate the saltiness. It balances out and, even thought the sodium level is just as high, the pickles just don't taste as salty. They taste quite sour. In fact, have a half sour pickle next time you have the opportunity and I think you'll find that the half sour tastes saltier than a full sour. Which is even more surprising when you learn that half sours are fermented with *less* salt.

                                                                                                                                                                                            I tend to ferment at cool, room temperature (top of the refrigerator is *way way way* too warm for this) for quite a bit longer than most posters in the thread. I skim pretty vigilantly. The brine should taste very sour. The idea is to preserve the pickles with salt and lactic acid. Not just flavor them with some spices and salt. That's much more like what a half sour is.

                                                                                                                                                                                            I'll also say that, while most people don't want to take this risk, I find that a larger batch always produces better pickles than a small batch. Why? No idea at all. But when I make 10-20 pound batch of pickles, everything seems to go much more smoothly and my pickles are some of my best. Kahm yeast is less prevalent. The brine quickly is dominated by lactobacillus. The pickles ferment more slowly, which leads to better flavor. Smaller batches have been much less consistent for me. I've never thrown out a large batch. I've had to pitch a few of the smaller batches and I've been less than blown away with several more.

                                                                                                                                                                                            Anyway, I hope that you'll keep fermenting at home! good luck with your current and future batches.

                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: cacio e pepe

                                                                                                                                                                                              Thanks for all that info. It may be they both need more time since the insides are not an even color yet. In both cases they are the familiar gray/green AND a lighter shade more typical of newer deli dills. No reason not to keep playing with these while I start up a new batch with less salt in it.

                                                                                                                                                                                          3. if I"m not mistaken tomorrow is 3 weeks for first batch and the next day is 3 weeks for second batch. I'm excited to taste them both to see the results. gad I hope they're incredible.
                                                                                                                                                                                            fingers crossed...........

                                                                                                                                                                                            4 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: iL Divo

                                                                                                                                                                                              You should be tasting them anyway, to ensure that they're fermenting at the right rate. It would be tragic to wait for three weeks and then find out that they're too mushy for your taste.

                                                                                                                                                                                              Mr Taster

                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: Mr Taster

                                                                                                                                                                                                oh I have Mr. Taster, but only just a bit, and smelling the liquid too.
                                                                                                                                                                                                if they're mushy then what? toss? OH NO :(

                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: iL Divo

                                                                                                                                                                                                  Mince them up and make them into relish, tuna or chicken salad :)

                                                                                                                                                                                                  Mr Taster

                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: Mr Taster

                                                                                                                                                                                                    oh that'd be a shame Mr. Taster.
                                                                                                                                                                                                    but due to your recommendation, I just pulled out both jars and tasted a nip off of one pickle per batch.'
                                                                                                                                                                                                    I like them, not sure I love them yet, want them much more sour, and the batch that is due to ripen tomorrow is less flavorful than the one due to ripen on the 26th.
                                                                                                                                                                                                    if in fact I do make these again because of loving the taste of either batch, I'll add more garlic, maybe much more garlic. I love a really garlicky pickle as I seem to remember them being that way in the deli joints we've frequented through the years.
                                                                                                                                                                                                    like Jerry's deli that used to be famous here in the LA area.

                                                                                                                                                                                            2. I'll have to play with this. I just started pickling again starting a few months ago.

                                                                                                                                                                                              1. Both batches getting better going into week 4. The sugar and vinegar helped turn the Kirbies' taste around, and the Persians are just pretty darned good as is.

                                                                                                                                                                                                THANKS Mr. Taster................. FUN!!!!!!!!

                                                                                                                                                                                                1. sadly the second batch which was 3 weeks on the 26th isn't good.
                                                                                                                                                                                                  I cut one in half lengthwise today after cutting off an end as it was mushy.
                                                                                                                                                                                                  way too salty.
                                                                                                                                                                                                  I can't think it'd get any better with age but perhaps I'm wrong.
                                                                                                                                                                                                  to the jar I added more dried thin red chili pods.
                                                                                                                                                                                                  but still salty is salty

                                                                                                                                                                                                  20 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: iL Divo

                                                                                                                                                                                                    wondering if changing out the brine would improve these or do nothing at all

                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: iL Divo

                                                                                                                                                                                                      i don't think it will help to change brine

                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: iL Divo

                                                                                                                                                                                                        Why not use less salt in your next batch and find out? Keep all other variables the same. That is why precision in weighing salt and water (and keeping notes between batches) is critical. It's science.

                                                                                                                                                                                                        Mr Taster

                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: Mr Taster

                                                                                                                                                                                                          I used the salt by brand name and measurement as per the original instructions.
                                                                                                                                                                                                          I'm no scientist.
                                                                                                                                                                                                          are they just going to get saltier as time goes by in this present brine?

                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: iL Divo

                                                                                                                                                                                                            Wonder if you could soak the pickles in fresh water to leach out some of the salt?

                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: Antilope

                                                                                                                                                                                                              I'm going to taste the first batch now.
                                                                                                                                                                                                              they were due for their 3 week date ending the 25th.
                                                                                                                                                                                                              think I'll take them out of their brine and put them in fresh water.
                                                                                                                                                                                                              wonder should I add any vinegar at all? or no?
                                                                                                                                                                                                              more pickling spice or no? more garlic more red chilies?

                                                                                                                                                                                                            2. re: iL Divo

                                                                                                                                                                                                              Soaking your pickles in a less salty solution will absolutely decrease their salinity. You can certainly try that.

                                                                                                                                                                                                              If they're mushy, there isn't much that you can do, though I've heard that adding calcium chloride can increase the crunchiness of pickles.

                                                                                                                                                                                                              I agree that measuring and keeping notes can help make your pickles more consistent and that the process can be explained by science. But this is a process with living things. Cucumbers can be fresher or older. they can be of different cultivars. It's a wild fermentation since you aren't dosing the brine with a culture, so the bacterial ecology is going to be different each time. Do your best to be consistent, but embrace the fact that you'll get varying results. Hopefully, you fine tune your technique so that you narrow your range of results, though. And, yes, you're going to have a few batches now and again that fail. Them's the breaks.

                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: cacio e pepe

                                                                                                                                                                                                                thanks for advice cacio..find your writing fascinating.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                the only thing I found mushy was the end tip of the only one I picked out although they are all totally submerged. I just cut that little piece off is all.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                should examine the other whole pickles to see if anyone else is mushy.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                hope to goodness not. won't be adding any 'cc' as no need to go buy that stuff just in the hope that a crunchier pickle will ensue.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                and fine tuning in the process of pickle making or bread making or pot roast making just isn't in me. this just sounded like a fun experience and I enjoyed seeking out the ingredients to 'maybe' come out with a winner of a recipe.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                with the responses here, I see and know it works. ok, I give, I may just have to tweak it and do it again. I'm vested in the idea.

                                                                                                                                                                                                              2. re: iL Divo

                                                                                                                                                                                                                I've been adding some vinegar and sugar to my batches in week 4 (per a suggestion above) because they're a bit too salty for me. It seems to help a little bit. Next time I'm going to use less salt..... and maybe shop around for Diamond Crystal to use instead of Morton's, though I'm not sure which will be most effective (should change one at a time to be sure).

                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: Midlife

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Morton's is chunkier and more pebbly (whereas Diamond is flakier). The upshot of this is that Diamond dissolves more readily. But as long as you use the same amount of salt (by weight in grams) and dissolve it thoroughly, there shouldn't be a much difference between the two.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Mr Taster

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: Mr Taster

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    I didn't think so, but was willing to try anything. It could also be that it's been so long since I've had a real, "honest-to-Hashem" sour dill that I don't recognize it any more. ;o]

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: Midlife

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      By adding vinegar and sugar, you aren't measurably changing the concentration of salt in the brine? So what you're dealing with is an issue of taste perception.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Because this is a living process, I think you need to wait to refrigerate until the brine is as sour as you're going to want it in the end. My experience has been that if the pickles are put into the refrigerator too soon then they will never get sour enough. And if they aren't sour enough then you taste the salt more prominently and it seems as though they are too salty.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: cacio e pepe

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        I do promise cacio, that my 2 batches were on the patio table for 2 and 3 days prior because the weather was iffy, not too hot not too cold as I recall, then after that they went in frig. maybe they just haven't gotten to their total sour yumminess yet.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: cacio e pepe

                                                                                                                                                                                                                          "My experience has been that if the pickles are put into the refrigerator too soon then they will never get sour enough. And if they aren't sour enough then you taste the salt more prominently and it seems as though they are too salty."

                                                                                                                                                                                                                          That makes a whole lot of sense, but doesn't seem to be in line with Mr. Taster's original instructions. I think my next try is going to involve around four batches done in different ways. This is getting to be a challenge.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: Midlife

                                                                                                                                                                                                                            "This is getting to be a challenge"


                                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: Midlife

                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Go for it. I'll eagerly await the results of your endeavor.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Mr Taster

                                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: Midlife

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Yes, the Mr. Taster's method via the Rabbi is a little different than mine. My perspective is that there is little need in slowing down the fermentation process in the refrigerator. I find that fermentation times vary by temperature but also batch size. And, for me, I need at least a full week for full sours. Often I need more time than that. I will say that if you leave the pickles out for a longer fermentation, you will need to skim more often. You will certainly have some . . . er . . . scum . . . on the top. You'll need to rinse your weight off regularly, too. It takes more babying.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                My comments aren't a knock on Mr. Taster's method at all. There are many ways to skin a cat. I'm just sharing mine, too.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: cacio e pepe

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  The last couple of times I've made pickles this way (refrigerated), I've had virtually no scum collecting on the top. It's been quite surprising, because I definitely did more skimming with the first couple of batches I'd made.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Mr Taster

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: Mr Taster

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    That's definitely an advantage of your method!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        2. re: Midlife

                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Midlife, I drove 40 miles in each direction to finally find a place where the Diamond Crystal was sold. I bought it and used it.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Not sure if dumping brine and starting again with a little vinegar and a little sugar, that may help a bit.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                          just wanted to say what my result was so I could [and did] get good advice from smart kitchenaires like all of you, thanks for everyone's help.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                          and by the way, I'm not annoyed at all by doing this if it seems I am by reading.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                          just want a wonderful result is all and perhaps the second batch or next 16batches will be fabuloso .

                                                                                                                                                                                                                2. sadly, had to toss my pickle experiments.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                  went to the garage frig (where they've been living) for butter needed in cookie recipe and took the pickles out to check. brought them inside to inspect and taste. all are squishy soft yuck, so for that reason since I won't eat squishers, the got garbage disposed.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                  not sure this novice should have attempted pickle making but was hopeful. rats :(

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  4 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: iL Divo

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    You tried and learned. Good things don't always turn out perfect the first time. Was not a waste of time. Think back about where possible mistakes were made and try again. Good new things often take on average about three times to get right (some things longer). If give up before perfect you will never be the local pickle master enjoying a great thing hard to buy anywhere. "Everything starts with a dream", "shoot for the stars and expect the moon", and "great ideas unless backed by action are nothing" ~smaki

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: smaki

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      wow........um okay

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      honestly smaki, I have no idea what went wrong.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                      I completely followed the instructions and bought the correct everything.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                      when I started the venture it was still warm out and I left both batches outside for 2 days because somewhere it says the warmer temps do better for the kick start of fermentation.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                      then in the frig they go, with the amount of flavor I desire is up to me.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                      not sure how I'd go about it differently next time. plus a waste of money if next batch and maybe next batch after that aren't good. I'm not 'that' much of a pickle fanatic but it sounded fun and also it sounded like many were excited about it. you know how excitement breeds more excitement.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: iL Divo

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        don't give up

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        try doing the pickles in smaller patches

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        i have used recipe many times-this last time for some reason they didn't come out well-

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        they were edible

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: jpr54_1

                                                                                                                                                                                                                          yours were edible but mine were mushpots.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                          funny I'm reading this right now because I saw those packages of 7 or 8 persian cukes per pkg today in WalMarchay and walked, thought, then kept walking.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                          had too many other things on my mind like where the sam will I find my rhubarb for the rhubarb ketchup I wanna make for the meat pies I was gonna do today. aargh

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  2. Newest batch: Persian cukes 25% less salt; half cup white wine vinegar added; three weeks. This batch was kept out of the fridge for 48 hours instead of the original 24. Result: this batch has significantly less flavor than earlier ones and is getting mushy now, when earlier batches did not.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    3 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: Midlife

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      sheesh midlife, I was hoping you'd cracked the code for me as well. I was gonna follow your lead. so are you gonna toss 'em then?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      I'm wondering if a glass container would work better for my purpose since last ones I used for my two batches were plastic. maybe plastic leaks something out into the liquid or???

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      I may entertain doing a smaller batch, I still have all needed except the cukes. but I know where to find 'em :)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: iL Divo

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        No tossing. They're just on the edge right now. Not sure what'll happen if I eat 10 pickles in the next couple of days, but oh well.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        This batch was my first in a deli-type container (actually yogurt). The others were in glass and harder plastic (Carnegie Deli pickle packaging from Costco). It's hard to see how that could make a difference, but maybe. I'm gonna chalk it up to less salt and sitting out of the fridge longer.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Next batch will probably add some vinegar to the correct amount of salt. I just found previous batches to be a bit too salty for my taste. We have several Persian markets near us, so the cukes are inexpensive and easy to get. I'm going to try Kirbys again too......... theory being that a larger cucumber would only get soft to a small percentage of its mass if it happens again. Kinda fun experimenting.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: Midlife

                                                                                                                                                                                                                          well Mid, you're a better man than I am~and I too love a good mission :)
                                                                                                                                                                                                                          success is hoped for you and your pickles.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    2. There has been much discussion about pickle mushiness or softening at the end. I posted this on a different thread but thought it might help with troubleshooting here too. The other thread was discussing cucumber varieties.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      "There are three classifications of cucumbers: slicing, burpless and pickling. English and Persian cucumbers fall in the burpless category. Mature burpless aren't recommended for fermented pickles for two reasons. The first is that the skin can be tough and hinder brine penetration. Secondly there is a growth enzyme* which can cause softening of the pickle. Immature burpless work fine for quick pickles.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Slicing pickles, the waxed ones, can become hollow during fermentation so they aren't a good choice.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      That said, I have peeled the wax, cut and seeded slicing cucumbers and used for fermented pickles. I've also used burpless varieties for small batches which would be consumed within a month. While they lacked the crispness of pickling cukes they were fine. One time I had pickles from slicing cucumbers turn out pithy.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      *All cucumber have this, which is why you remove the blossom end when prepping for pickles, but it is stronger in burpless varieties."

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      7 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: meatn3

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        How do you tell if a Persian cucumber is mature? I ask because this was my third batch from Persians...... all bought at the same market, and all appearing the same............ but the first one to turn soft. Also............ the softness is throughout the length of the pickle, and more noticeable along one side.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: Midlife

                                                                                                                                                                                                                          I got this very problem too Mid. the longer they were in the brine the softer they got and in weird places not only ends but maybe on one or two just in the mid section only...what the Sam?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: Midlife

                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Persians are small: 5 -8 inches at maturity. The younger it is the sweeter the flavor.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Most markets will have signage indicating pickling cucumbers.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Smaki (below) has good advise. Your best luck will be with local, seasonal pickling varieties. Farmers markets is the best bet if you can't grow them.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Talk to the produce manager (not the kid stocking) at your grocery. Talk to growers at your farmers market. They won't have them now but you can develop a relationship and find the supplier for next year. Often your grocer will order them for you, depending on the quantity. Many places (WF too) offer a case discount on special orders.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Seed catalogs are a great way to learn about varieties even if you aren't growing them. The catalogs have excellent photo's, usage info, harvest size, time to maturity, etc.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                            This link may be helpful too:

                                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: meatn3

                                                                                                                                                                                                                              As much as I appreciate the thoughtfulness............................If you go way back up to Mr. Taster's original post, the recommended cucumber is a Persian. I can buy them easily here, and they seem fresh. Having made two other batches that came out well (except for being too salty for my taste), I really think it's overreaching a bit to be talking about growing them or waiting for seasonal varieties when it seems much more likely that the differences are in the recipe and timing.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: Midlife

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Yes, I recall the original recommendation. I was offering additional information to help troubleshoot the mushiness problems being reported.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                The seed catalogs were suggested as a way to learn more about varieties. In doing so you may realize an item goes by many names or that you are purchasing an out of season product. If it is out of season in your area then that adds extra days getting it to market which means an older product. It is extremely rare to find produce less than 4 days from harvest in a brick & mortar setting. Usually it is older.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                When I troubleshoot I try to take a fresh look at all variables. The variety may or may not be the issue in your results. Others who access this thread may find it is key to their difficulties.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                          2. re: meatn3

                                                                                                                                                                                                                            meatn, I did cut the blossom ends off if there was one. if it was not there I left alone. my Persians were about 7" each roughly so is that young or old? where do I find pickling cucumbers? only ever seen the long huge salad kind (waxy) the English burpless in the cello wrapper and the ones I bought in packages of 6-7 of the shorter 7" Persians.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                            appreciate your help in giving the above info-just not sure it's worth the effort of trying again. being honest here.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: iL Divo

                                                                                                                                                                                                                              The blossom end needs to be cut off even if there is no sign of the blossom. If the stem is not still on then the blossom end will have a smallish dot or bump. The stem end will have a bigger spot where there is no skin.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                          3. There has been lots of talk in this thread lately about soft results. To those with mushy pickles in the end my question is, “How long were the cucumbers sitting around before you pickled them?” and "How long were they exposed to air befor hit your pickle brine?" You should know and if don't there is a problem right there at the start.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                            I pickle cucumbers within an hour after they get picked. It is how I was taught by those older and wiser. My pickle kitchen is ready before I go to the garden.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                            If ending up with soft results, think back to what you started with. I find pickling the freshest cucumbers possible will result in the crispest freshest firm end pickle results. Bigger older cucumbers are soft in the center to start where the little ones who’s seeds are not as developed work better for me. Small pickling cucumbers are what you want to use. The usually season for cucumbers is the end of the summer in Oregon. Know the season where you are and if try to pickle at other times BEWARE. Most cucumbers available in the store not in season means grown elsewhere instead of local which means days or weeks before they get to the store being shipped to where you are. From trial then error experience, making pickles from cucumbers stored in water a few days (3-4 maximum) works, but never are as crispy as fresh. Beyond three or four days in water before pickling gives a mushy soft pickle result. And in air it only takes 48 hours for cucumbers to begin to rot to make mushy pickles. Know your cucumber supply. It is best to grow your own. Cucumbers in a greenhouse is the best way to make pickles year round. Pickling preserves freshness, if not fresh to start expect so-so results.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Above only a couple people touched on cucumber freshness - it seemed time to reinforce the fact that fresh cucumbers of the right type make the best pickles. Staring with old cucumbers results in mushy pickles. Bigger older cucumbers to start with instead of the little ones make soft pickles. If using another variety not pickling cucumbers to start with, good luck, but you will probably have soft pickles. Grow your own cucumbers and pickle the little ones within an hour of picking if want great pickles is my advice. Did a search and tried not to miss anyone, lots of comments on fresh dill, even adding fresh dill leaves, but not many comments about using fresh cucumbers of the right variety and size. About fresh cucumbers in this thread is:

                                                                                                                                                                                                                            => Wtg2Retire (Sep 8, 2011 05:46 PM): “First growing your own cukes is best but not everyone can do that so the next best thing is to get pickling type cukes from a fresh market. If the cukes are not absolutely fresh picked the same day you purchase them forget it, and just buy your pickles in the store. Size is relatively important as well 3 to 4 inch cukes are ideal, however, you should get a few smaller ones to use to fill in. If you can get cukes fresh picked wash them in plain water, and this is the step most people don't know about, place them in a container and cover them with cold water and place in refrigerator overnight. I can't emphasize enough how important that step is. If you don't do this you will get spongy, soft, and mushy pickles.”

                                                                                                                                                                                                                            => acgold7 (Sep 19, 2011 11:26 AM ): “About mushy spots: on the outside or inside? "Bloaters" sometimes just happen; they balloon up and some say the overnight soaking in ice water before the brining can prevent this. Using freshly picked, smaller cukes surely can. Soft spots on the outside are signs of rot and they should be discarded.”

                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Mr Taster has shared solid advice that works when done right.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Old, wrong variety, or big cucumbers make soft mushy pickles.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                            7 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: smaki

                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Again..................... the Persians I buy SEEM fresh but how can I tell if they are? I look for firm, fresh-looking cucumbers, and these markets have a rather high rate of sale, so I'm having a difficult time ascribing the pickle softness to cucumber age..... especially given the varying results with similar 'appearing' product.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                              This is an area where there is one organic farmstand and I've never seen small cucumbers there. Our local Farmers Markets do not seem to have them either (just the large slicing variety).

                                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: smaki

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                same day I bought them Smaki.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                I don't grow them I buy them at the supermarket.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                I had everything including measuring utensils all on the counter & at the ready.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                still very helpful information and much appreciated.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                gad now I need to buy pickling seeds from (Burpee) or ?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: iL Divo

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  I bought kirby's today in the farmers mrket

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  the new batch is on the counter-will see what happens

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: jpr54_1

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    today at market I purchased small size persian cucumbers-

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    just finished putting them in jar and counter.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    hope they come out well

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: jpr54_1

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      how did your first batch come out? you used Kirby's and that's maybe the best choice that I remember reading about. have you tried them from time to time? your post is from Dec 1 so they should be edible by now yes?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: iL Divo

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        They came out well-2 spears left.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        This time using persian cukes. They were small and firm.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: jpr54_1

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          ok I'm biting now and it's all HillJ's fault due to her avatar :)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          I bought 16 Persians today, small and mighty.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          sterilized the 48oz glass jar today for putting them in.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          convinced the plastic jars I used last times for both batches (both got smooshy) was part of the problem. but we'll see, I'll put 'em up tomorrow.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                              2. A friend gifted me a Perfect Pickler, which is just a jar with a water lock on it, but it has got me to research fermented pickles in earnest. I'm currently awaiting the results of my first batch, from a recipe that came with the PP. Their method is to leave the jar fermenting on the counter for about 4 days, then start eating. After reading your recipe, I'm wondering what the difference is between 4 days room temperature fermenting and 2 weeks fridge fermenting?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. Well, this is the most exciting post I've seen all day (understatement). Thanks a LOT for sharing.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. Latest batch is still only about 50% done after 3 weeks in the fridge. I must have done something wrong this time. :o[

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. ok, 2 batches done.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      now the wait

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      13 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: iL Divo

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        I really suggest that you try letting them ferment at room temperature until they are "done" according to your tastes. That's assuming that your room temperature fairly cool. I have never had good results letting the pickles ferment in the fridge. Since you also seem to be having trouble with that cold fermentation, try the room temperature approach. Taste often after a couple of days until they are right and skim frequently for best results.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: cacio e pepe

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          you are so helpful, thank you cacio e pepe.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          I have not put the two jars in the frig since making this batch.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          and I will not put in frig because it didn't work with first batch. I'm wanting this to work. I took the lids off this morning just to smell. not sure what I'm supposed to smell or not smell. how do I taste? do I cut off a small end of a cuke? not sure. thanks for any advice, it's appreciated.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: iL Divo

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            I always put mine in fridge after 1 1/2 days.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Smell of garlic,dill, and spices.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            My batch of persian cucumber pickles came out well
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            but a batch of kirby's had to be placed in garbage-cpears were mushy and they didn't smell right.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: jpr54_1

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              well that gives me hope, thanks jpr.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              guess it's time to put them in the frig now.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              my house is usually very/quite cold so I've held out hope, but now, it's time.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: iL Divo

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                first time that I tasted any of my 'pickles' just now.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                cut off the end of 2 different ones in same jar, then cut end off another in other batch. the two from same jar taste different which is weird, but flavor is sort of good & both also soft. the one single bite from second batch, good but soft. I'm hoping for a developed flavor in the weeks ahead, but not too many weeks because after reading here, they can go south if left too long.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            2. re: iL Divo

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Not trying to be a smartass, but they should smell like dill pickles -- dill, garlic, and a briney vinegar-y smell.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: sunshine842

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                sun, I didn't take it as sm@$$........
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                briney vinegary smell, ok but there's no vinegar in there, so.....and it's only been 6 days so not sure how much pungency there'd be in the liquid yet........

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: iL Divo

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  there are those who would....

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  I made mine in the summer, so mine were starting to smell like vinegar before they even went into the fridge.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              2. re: iL Divo

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                ---You're very welcome! I love this stuff so I want to encourage everyone in this thread to keep at it until they are making pickles they like.---

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                I usually get a really strong dill and garlic smell. In addition, it should have a sour smell that is reminiscent of vinegar, but different. When I have a large batch going, my place smells like a deli.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                As for testing, you just eat 'em. They're still good, but they may not quite be pickles, yet. If they are still too cucumber-like, then they need more time. You can cut off a bit and test or you can eat a whole one. Sometimes I'll taste one but I'll also poke around the bucket a bit and see if any pickles are further along than others. I'll pull those and put them in their own jars with some brine in the fridge and leave the others to continue.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Make sure your lid is just there to cover, not seal. You'll need to make sure that gas can escape from the pickles. I like to use a plastic bucket I got from a restaurant supply store and I just rest the plastic lid on top. That allows air out, but prevents yeasts and other bacteria from dropping in. I still skim pretty regularly. If I can, I'll do it everyday. Sometimes I forget a skip a day . . . or two . . . or even three. I tend to develop a kahm yeast layer if I don't skim. It's "harmless," except it tastes funky in a way that I don't care for.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Also, for reasons I don't have a good explanation for, there are times that my pickles are a little soft and don't have a great snap to them at first. Then after storing in the fridge for a bit they actually firm up and get crunchier. I have no idea how that happens, but I'd give a jar of pickles a littel time in the fridge before giving up on them if they don't have the perfect texture.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Some batches are better than others, and I have let my pickles go too long and had to pitch them. Those tragedies are kind of par for the course. As you do your pickles more often, you'll have that happen fewer and further between.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Good luck!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: cacio e pepe

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  I'm hiding behind a couch.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  the only thing on the top of the brine seems to appear to be the pickling spice, I don't see scum. ok.......TRUTH...I haven't skimmed skum.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  from your post, it's a must?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: iL Divo

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    I had no scum at all on mine - and my pickles were *great*.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: iL Divo

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      The only time I've seen scum (4 batches now) is when the tips of pickles wind up above the 'brine line'. There's a small degree of evaporation in a jar with holes in the top. If I forget to check that I'll see scum.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: iL Divo

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Pickle enough and you will certainly get scum. It's par for the course. Sandor Katz has a couple of well-regarded works on fermentation and he refers to it poetically as a "bloom." I've certainly had batches that didn't have any kahm yeast development, but it's a very common issue. I find that skimming the top daily prevents a bloom. If you aren't getting a bloom, don't worry about it at all!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        It's a bigger deal for longer fermenting foods like sauerkraut, but it can happen even in relatively short fermenting foods like pickles.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Mr. Taster's method of early refrigeration would be great at preventing any kahm mold scum, but that method doesn't quite end in the product that I'm after.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              3. I LOVE this thread. Great read on a snowy night in MN. Can't wait to try this next summer. Thanks, everyone. I learned a lot!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. here's a question for those with more experience than me on these...

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Without making Moe spin in his grave --- once the pickles are 'finished' and ready to eat -- could you pack them into Mason jars and process them for longterm conservation?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  They'd be acidic enough to make it possible to process with a boiling-water bath....that would kill the cultures, but would it mean they'd still be edible in a few months?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1 Reply
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: sunshine842

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    sunshine842, great question. Seems would work to keep them fresher longer. Another question, is it best to keep refrigerated after water bath? When refrigerate slows down 'growth' so do not get as soft as fast as do at room temperature. While my water bath pickles are good up to two years without refrigeration. The reason I ask is have noticed Bubbies Pure Kosher Dills and others with a cloudy brine are sold in store refrigerated sections. Maybe it is just marketing to be next to Claussen instead of "on shelf" with more others. As a kid grew up eating Mrs. Neusihin's cloudy brine pickles which were put in a jar and not refrigerated until after opened (a favorite local pickle before sold to Wisconsin-based Dean Foods who moved Neusihin's to India adding vinegar so not the same recipe even though in a similar jar for decades). Do not know how Mrs. Neusihin's canned them (water bath or under pressure). If anyone has 'canned' their salt fermented kosher dill pickle results please share the process if able to extend 'shelf life'.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  2. ok so today, this morning I tested and tasted the second batch I made a few weeks ago.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    one batch tastes I almost hesitate to say, good. I don't think they're full sours yet but with this batch I'm hopeful.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    the other jar tastes almost twingy, zippy, like when orange juice just starts to be no longer good it gets that almost fizz going on. if anyone knows what I mean by this please reply. is the second one ok too even with the fizz or whatever it is I'm trying to explain? ;:-/

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. Another no-vinegar salt-fermented pickle recipe is here: http://www.food.com/recipe/new-york-s... Summary: Seems simple. Done after 6 days (flexible as depends on personal taste). Checks every 72 hours when change a cheese cloth on top as well as wash everything on top then replace. When done as desire them puts in jars of brine in fridge to slow down fermentation. Flavored similarly with: garlic, spices, and dill. Uses cinnamon (not so sure about that as discussed above).

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Have not yet compared to Moe's recipe and methods using 2 Tbsp salt per 16oz spring water. Salt-fermented with 'water to cover' so does not give exact ratio of brine. 1 cup of pickling salt (16 Tbsp) per ten gallons of medium pickling cucumbers is about a gallon (a guess, maybe a bit more). Without measuring, it seems the salt ratio is about equal.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      When seek pickling spice, check out local bulk bins. Good price. Smells very fresh.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Good pickles are amazing things fun to share.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      4 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: smaki

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        I'd like to try the recipe linked by smaki. http://www.food.com/recipe/new-york-s...

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Anyone have any idea how to quantify "10 gallons pickling cucumber" in a term that I can use to reduce the recipe in size? I'm not familiar with the use of "gallons" for a solid product. I'm thinking that folks who do a lot of canning may know this. Thanks.