Kosher Dill Pickles!


Pickles is a subject about which I am very passionate. I’m not talking about the loathsome, sissy-la-la sweet pickles that Aunt Elspeth used to make; I’m talking robust, garlicky dills. And the reason I’m so passionate about them is because my pickles are so much better than anything you get in the stores, and SOOOOO much cheaper that it hurts me to buy them on the sad occasions that we run out. I try to avoid that by making large quantities every summer, come late July or early August. Here they are:

First off, I should admit that the recipe is not entirely my own–I started with a recipe out of the good old Betty Crocker cookbook. And while this recipe has its flex-points, you want to get the brine proportions right, or you end up with mushy pickles that don’t taste right.

To start with, you need about 12 quart canning jars, with accompanying lids and rings–clean them very well in hot soapy water, rinse, and let drip dry while you prepare your ingredients.

Next, you need a large canning kettle–I bought mine at an estate sale for $5–a big black spatter-ware pot with a wire tray and a lid. I’ve heard people sing the praises of pressure-canners, but since I don’t do any of the really heavy-duty canning, I’ve never used one. Fill your canning kettle about 2/3 or 3/4 full with water, and set it to boil.

Next, make the brine. I’ll give the mix first in the amount you need per quart, then the amount I used for my 12Q batch. You will note that I only multiplied the quart quantities by 8–it was plenty for 12 Q, with several cups leftover.

Brine: Bring to a boil the following:

1 3/4 c. water (large batch: 14 c. water)

3/4 c. cider or white vinegar (lg. batch: 6 c. vinegar)

1 TBSP pickling salt (lg batch: 8 TBSP salt)

IMPORTANT NOTE: You have to have light-colored vinegar if you want light colored pickles, and you must use pickling salt, not regular table salt!)

Each quart will take 5-6 pickling cucumbers, depending on how big they are, and how you slice them. I use cukes from the farmer’s market that are about 4-5 inches long, and usually 1-2 inches wide. For my 12 Quart batch, I used a half-bushel of cukes. We do long sandwich slices using our mandoline (an EXCELLENT kitchen gadget to have, for a variety of uses!) I’ve also done round hamburger slices, and more rarely, quarters.

To pack the canning jars, you’ll need a large jar of minced garlic handy, plus several packages of dill seed. Pack the sliced cucumbers into the jars fairly tightly, filling the jar up to about 1 inch or so below the top. Add a dollop of garlic (how much is a dollop, you ask? well, how much do you like garlic?…..okay, not fair–let’s say about 1 TBSP of garlic.) Add about half as much dill seed. Pour in the hot brine over the cukes and spices, until the liquid reaches 1/2 inch below the top. Put a lid on, screw on the ring–not too tight yet.

Put the jars into the canning kettle, which is boiling by now, and leave for 15 minutes or so. Too long, and you have mushy pickles, too short, and you don’t get a good seal, which leads to spoiling.

After 15 minutes, take the jars out (you’ll need a pair of canning jar tongs for this–I don’t know what name they’ll be sold under at the store, but you’ll need them!) Place them on a towel or a wire rack in an out-of-the-way place to cool. Let them stand for 1 week before opening. Store in a cool dark place like the basement.

I should note that Betty Crocker calls for either fresh dill weed or dill seed. You can experiment with dill weed if you want–but it does give a VERY different flavor than the dill seed–think licorice and anise. I think if you want to make regular dills, the fresh dill would be more successful, along with a spoonful or so of mustard seeds added. But for these Kosher dills, the dill SEED is ever so much better.

LB

Editing: I should note that when I call these KOSHER dills, I am talking about a style or flavor of pickles, (Kosher is to pickles as German is to chocolate cake, for example). I am NOT talking about Kosher like it meets Jewish dietary restrictions, which would require special cooking equipment, kitchen set-up, and involvement of clergy. I imagine that Kosher dill pickles originally came from the kitchens of Jewish women, but the term has since come to mean a variety of style or flavor, and may or may not meet orthodox kosher requirements. Mine don’t. Just thought I should clarify.

BK, who is much less passionate about dill pickles contributes this No-cook pickle recipe. This is a good recipe for people who can’t wait a week to eat the pickles.

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  2. Hi, I live in London and on a holiday to Florida tasted America’s wonderful pickled cukes. Wow! I now pickle my own and we eat them like sweets.

  3. To Whom It May Concern:

    I recently started making Kosher pickles and most of the recipes I have come across talk about the pickles fermenting in their brown for several weeks to a month. Is this not the way to make a true Kosher pickle? Have you tried this method? If so, have you found that the taste of boiling the brine and cold packing them produces a much better Kosher pickle?

    Thank you,
    Charles H. O’Roark

  4. Just wanted to thank you for posting your recipe online. I love pickles, and wanted to make my own from the cucumbers from my garden–this recipe is so simple, I’ll make 2-3 quarts from a day’s harvest!

    I also had dill seed already from last year’s garden, so it worked out great.

    And they taste fantastic! Thanks so much.
    Shawn in Harrisburg, PA

  5. Thanks for letting us know, Shawn–I’m so glad the recipe is working for you. I’m also jealous of your garden–I have not been able to grow cucumbers for love or money. My whole back yard is SEETHING with ants, and they eat out the inside of most veggie plants that I’ve tried. The only gardening success we’ve had has been basil. So sad….

    Laura

  6. I have been totally obsessed and hopelessly in love with kosher dill pickles for 30 yrs, and have recently decided that I would like to start making my own pickles. My favorite brand of pickle has always been and will forever be Mt.Olive kosher dill pickles. I would greatly appreciate a recipe that is just as good, or a close second.

  7. I will definately try the recipe above, but I just want it to be understood that it’s just a certain kind of taste that I am looking for in a homemade kosher dill pickle.

  8. I hope you like these pickles. Of course we don’t know what that particular taste that you’re looking for in a pickle IS, so we can’t promise that this will fill the bill. Good luck.

    Barbara

  9. My friend and I made dill pickles, we thought, just opened a can, the lid popped fine, but the pickles are mushy, but good tasting. What did we do wrong?

  10. Nick,
    There are a few possibilities here. One is that you used sub-optimal cucumbers, which make sub-optimal pickles. (For example, if the cucumbers were too old, or if they were too big, or if they were not pickling cucumbers…)

    Another possibility is that you got the brine wrong–check the recipe again, and see if you got the proportions of water to vinegar to salt right. (And you are using regular salt, not sea-salt, right? Sea-salt has a different percentage of sodium.)

    And the last possibility would be if you over-processed the pickles. We discovered a few years ago that we got crunchier pickles if we counted our processing time from the time we put the jars into the hot water bath, not from the time that the water started to boil. (Mind you, you want to put the jars into water that is already boiling, but it will take a bit to start boiling again after the jars are in. Start your timer from the moment you put the jars in.)

    I hope this is helpful. Good luck with your next batch.

    Laura

  11. Hi – just found this site – how great – I was reading somewhere that if you use alum in your dill pickles they will be crunchy – how would you use it and how much would you use – do you know???

  12. We followed this recipe to the letter and we were very very pleased with the outcome! These rival the best store bought pickles you can find. Better than the “premium” deli pickles packaged by pig’s head!!

    Thanks for the recipe. My family loves knowing we can make great tasting pickles from locally grown ingredients.

  13. Brian, we NEVER buy store-bought pickles anymore, because we think ours are so much better.

    Valerie, I haven’t done any research on using alum for crunchier pickles. If you find more info, please come back and let us know.

  14. Julie, I usually tighten them just to the point where they are secure before putting them in the water bath (too loose, they come off during processing; too tight, you prevent air from escaping, and the pickles will spoil). I usually leave the rings on, but you could take them off after the jars have cooled a bit, once the lids have sealed. The rings aren’t necessary if the lids are tightly sealed.

  15. I have been getting oodles of my straight eight cukes out of my garden. I’m getting behind on eating them and thought I would try my hand at pickles. Will the straight eights work for pickles if they have been in frig for about a week? Does it matter “refering to crispness” if you quarter or slice diagonally?

  16. Carla, I used the straight eights for the first time ever in making pickles & they turned out great. My recipe is from my grandfather’s sister and is eerily similar to the one above. The primary difference is I use fresh dill and no garlic. I grow my own dill, which is so very easy to do, smush a big head of it in the bottom of the jar, then pack and fill with hot brine. I’ve never used a canner or processed them in a hot water bath. Yes, I know, many people say you have to, but I don’t, my mom didn’t, her mom didn’t, and so on… 😉 The hot brine, jars, rings, and lids cause the jars to seal on their own!

  17. Has anyone tried making these with some jalepeno’s thrown in for spiciness? Or anything else to make them spicy? (sorry if this goes against the idea of “kosher dills” – never knew exactly what that meant)

    • Lori, yes we put in one or two Fresh Jalapenos from our Garden, this is part of ,”our Standard Pickles”, recipe, we don’t hot can them, so they have to go in the Fridge after about 10days , with spooning off the foam, this pickle recipe was from my Grandmother from Romania. We also grow our own Pickles and some fresh Dill, People who have tasted ours can not believe how good the flavor is, one phone up his Brother in Chicago and told him he just tasted the Best Kosher Pickles he ever had ! We imagine sometime we will try making pickled Cabbage . by the way, have you tried Pickled Beets with Eggs in the Jar? Yummy! our Pastured eggs and Beets grown by us as well, try them , so good! Best Wishes, and Thanks for all the tips and recipes on Bread , AJ and Denise

  18. We have pickles here in Ireland but ours may be different. My husband buy them in a jar of vinegar, eats them and then drinks the vinegar. He then complains for two days of heartburn!!! Not that bright but I love him:)

  19. Pingback: No-cook QUICK pickles: an addendum to LB’s pickle canning post « My Sister’s Kitchen

  20. I too am passionate about Kosher-style dills. I was just in Iasi, Romania visiting my son and pregnant daughter-in-law, who walk all over the city looking for good pickles.
    Question: do you think you can use whole, small cukes? What would happen if you did not cut the cucumbers?I love the Clausen mini-dills. Thanks!

  21. I am learning a lot here! Do you think you can make these pickles with whole mini cukes rather than cutting them? Would anything have to be different for whole ones? Just wondering. Thanks!

  22. Made pickles about 1 1/2 weeks ago and I notice the water in the pickles is cloudy – haven’t tasted them yet, does this mean they are spoiled? Can someone help me with this? Thanks

    • Sometimes the water gets cloudy if you don’t use pickling salt. Maybe Laura can address if there’s any other things that cause cloudiness. Taste them if you have any doubts.

  23. I have a question about the kind or process of pickle which is usually served with a sandwich at a deli. This pickle slice has a green rind and almost white flesh. It tastes like watermelon rind. The kind of pickle I like is green all of the way through the flesh. What is the difference in making these two kinds of pickles? I’d like to make the green kind. Thanks!