If you savor the taste of a great NY deli style kosher dill pickle, you know that store-bought pickles just don't measure up. Homemade Kosher Dill Pickles are packed with flavor and crunch, and they are easy to make. This recipe will guide you through the process to make delicious dill pickles using a pickle fermentation crock.
What Makes a Dill Pickle Kosher?
Kosher dills are an important part of Jewish culinary heritage and they are different from ordinary dill pickles. The difference is the presence of garlic cloves in the pickling brine solution. Dill pickles that are not made with garlic are not considered kosher. In addition, non-kosher dill pickles are often made with vinegar and sugar.
Select the Right Cucumbers
Most markets and some farmer markets carry small cucumbers that are the right size for pickling. Kirby cucumbers are generally considered to be the best cucumbers for kosher dills, but they can be difficult to find. If you are unable to find suitable cucumbers, think about growing your own. Kirby and other pickling cucumber seeds can be found online. Seeds take less than 90 days to grow and produce cucumbers. A word of caution: If you grow your own cucumbers check them everyday after they flower. Cucumbers grow fast and can easily overgrow, become misshapen and turn yellow.
This was inspired by my recipe for Homemade Pastrami. If you like New York style pastrami, that recipe is certainly worth trying.
- Pickling cucumbers
- Garlic cloves
- Pickling spice
- Spring water
- Kosher salt
See recipe card for quantities.
Wash your hands well and rinse the cucumbers under cold water. Feel each one and discard any that feel soft in the middle or are starting to wrinkle. Only use fresh, firm cucumbers.
Trim off the blossom end of the cucumber. That is the end that has a little raised bump. This is important because the flowering end contains enzymes that will just ruin the entire batch of pickles. If you can't figure out which end is which, trim both ends.
Pack the cucumbers vertically in a fermentation crock or other suitable vessel that has been cleaned in a hot dishwasher.
Add the garlic cloves and pickling spices.
You can make your own pickling spice, but it's not worth the effort. Pickling spices are available online and that is what is used in most commercial kosher dill pickle preparation. This pickling spice contains mustard seeds, coriander seeds, dill seeds, bay leaves, peppercorns and chili peppers.
Next, mix the the salt in the spring water and stir until it is completely dissolved to make the brine solution. Remember, all kosher salt is NOT the same. The size of the crystals varies quite a bit. Use only Diamond brand kosher salt, you can find it online. This is the best way to make a pickle brine that will support the growth of good bacteria.
Pour the saltwater brine over the cucumbers until they are completely covered and then add another one inch of water. Don't add water to the top of the jar or crock, you need room for the weights. Next, lay the fresh dill across the top of the cucumbers.
Finally, lay the fermentation weight that came with the pickling crock across the top. I like to seal my weights in FoodSaver bags to keep them clean.
Let the Fermentation Begin
Place a fermenting lid on top of the crock and let it sit at room temperature for 2-3 days, preferably 3, in a cool, dark place. This starts the fermentation process. After 3 days, open the crock and remove any foam or scum that forms with a spoon and discard. Put the lid back on and move the entire crock into your refrigerator. Now wait. The amount of fermentation time determines the type of pickles you will have. "New" pickles will be ready in 8 - 12 days and "old" pickles in 14 - 20 days.
Sometimes, you will get pickles that are mushy in the middle, throw those away. This seems to be related more to the type of cucumber used rather than anything that went wrong in the pickling process. If the liquid develops a colored scum or smells off, discard the pickles and start over. It means something wasn't quite clean enough.
After the fermentation period, remove the pickles from the crock and discard the liquid. Transfer the pickles to clean, preferably sterilized, jars and store them in the refrigerator.
Making homemade kosher dill pickles is fun and rewarding, particularly if you don't live near a good Jewish delicatessen. So get yourself a pickle crock and makle some pickles.
This recipe was made with a gallon fermentation crock and fermentation weights designed to fit inside the crock. Pickles could also be made in large, clean glass jars, like wide-mouth mason jars.
Store dill pickles in clean, sterilized jars in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks.
Make sure everything is really clean before you start. Run the fermenting crock, lid and weights through the dishwasher on the hottest sterilize setting. The whole idea is to promote the development of good, lactic acid bacteria that will consume the sugars in the cucumbers as part of the fermentation process. The lactic acid will help prevent spoilage.
This is my favorite dish to serve with homemade dill pickles, imagine that.
Kosher Dill Pickles
- Pickle crock
- 10 Kirby pickling cucumbers
- 2 garlic cloves smashed
- 3 tbls pickling spice
- 64 oz water
- 80 grams kosher salt Diamond brand
- Rinse the cucumbers thoroughly and cut off the flowering ends. Place cucumbers in a pickle crock (vertically).
- Add salt to the water in a large pitcher. Stir until salt is dissolved. Pour over the cucumbers. Add garlic and pickling spice.
- Add water and cover with dill. Weigh down with weights to keep cucumbers submerged.
- Leave covered on the counter at room temperature for three days then place the crock in the refrigerator. Wait three weeks for perfect sour dill pickles.