Many of us grew up eating spicy, garlic-studded “kosher” dill pickles. These pickles are crisp, crunchy, sour, and delicious: everything a pickled cucumber should be.
The so-called "kosher" pickle is not necessarily kosher in the sense that it complies with Jewish food laws. It is called kosher because of its flavor profile made popular by New York’s Jewish pickle makers, who made the pickles using the same kind of salt used to prepare meat in the kosher style.
These pickle makers were known for their natural salt-brined pickles heavily seasoned with dill and garlic. So any pickle that is seasoned in the same fashion is referred to as a kosher dill.
You may notice an unusual ingredient in the recipe below: grape, oak, or horseradish leaves. These leaves are not for eating: they are put in the brine because the tannins in them help the pickles stay crunchy, a vital characteristic of every good pickle.
- 5 tablespoons sea salt
- 2 quarts of chlorine-free water
- 4 to 6 grape, oak, or horseradish leaves
- 6 to 9 cloves of peeled garlic
- 2 large heads of dill
- Spices to taste: black peppercorns, red pepper flakes, mustard seeds, etc. (Secret ingredient: for an extra bite, add a few strips of fresh horseradish to the spice mix!)
- Enough pickling cucumbers to fill a half-gallon jar
- Make a brine with 2 quarts of chlorine-free water and 5 tablespoons sea salt. Mix well, cover, and allow to cool to room temperature. This brine can be kept for days before using.
- In a half-gallon jar add a couple of the tannin-containing leaves, a few cloves of garlic, the heads of dill, and 1/3 of the spices you plan to use.
- Pack half of your cucumbers tightly on top of these spices. (The longest ones work best at the bottom.) Repeat a layer of leaves, garlic, and spices. Add another tightly packed layer of cucumbers and top them off with more garlic and spices.
- Pour the brine over the pickles, leaving 1 to 2 inches of headspace. Place another tannin-containing leaf on top of the pickles as a cover between the pickles and the surface of the brine.
- Tightly cap the jar and place in a safe place at room temperature for 3 to 5 days. Alternatively, place in a root cellar or cool basement for up to two weeks.
- You will know your pickles have fermented when the brine is cloudy, the brine is bubbling, and the pickles have a bubbly sourness to them. The warmer the fermenting temperature, the shorter the fermentation time, though a cooler fermentation temperature is desirable (less than 80°F).
- Eat right away, or store in a refrigerator or root cellar for months and enjoy them all winter long.
Makes one half-gallon jar of pickles.
Click here for three tips for making crunchy lacto-fermented pickles.