When I was growing up in Chicago, for a while my aunt and uncle ran Batt’s Delicatessen, and it had a real pickle barrel, so visits there always included a big wonderfully crisp, garlicky dill pickle. Kosher dill pickles were also the treat of choice when I had to go to Sunday school at South Shore Temple. Afterwards, my sisters, brother and I would stop at Kosmer’s (or was it Cosmer’s?) Deli on Jeffery Blvd. where we bought big salty garlicky pickles, which were wrapped in brown paper so we could eat them as we walked home. Ah, what a delight!
Well, it’s not easy to get such a pickle these days if you don’t live near a good deli. I always thought it was a complicated, long procedure to make real kosher-style dill pickles. And maybe it is, but thanks to Mark Bittman (again!), I found it’s easy to make great pickles. You just need salt, plus garlic and dill. And pickling cucumbers, of course.
I bought a couple pounds of pickling cucumbers at the Mount Vernon farmers’ market yesterday, put the pickles in a bowl with brine last night, and had bright green, crisp and crunchy garlicky pickles in the morning (not so good for breakfast, but excellent any other time of the day).
Kosher Pickles the Right Way
From Mark Bittman’s How to Cook Everything
Makes about 30 pickle quarters or 15 halves
Time: 1 to 2 days
- 1/3 cup kosher salt
- 1 cup boiling water
- 2 pounds small (“Kirby”) cucumbers, washed (scrub if spiny) and cut lengthwise into halves or quarters
- At least 5 cloves garlic, smashed
- 1 large bunch dill, preferably fresh and with flowers, or substitute 2 tablespoons dried dill and 1 teaspoon dill seeds or 1 tablespoon coriander seeds
1. Combine the salt and boiling water in a large bowl; stir to dissolve the salt. Add a handful of ice cubes to cool down the mixture, then add all the remaining ingredients.
2. Add cold water to cover. Use a plate slightly smaller than the diameter of the bowl and a small weight to hold the cucumbers under the water. Keep at room temperature.
3. Begin sampling the cucumbers after 4 hours if you’ve quartered them, 8 hours if you’ve cut them in half. In either case, it will probably take from 12 to 24 or even 48 hours for them to taste “pickle-y” enough to suit your taste.
4. When they are ready, refrigerate them, still in the brine. The pickles will continue to ferment as they sit, more quickly at room temperature, more slowly in the refrigerator. They will keep well for up to a week.
As Bittman says, these pickles won’t keep long–a week or so in the refrigerator–but you’ll eat them quickly enough that you won’t notice. So, make kosher style dills in small batches and eat ‘em up without restraint….