When I was in high school, I frequently went home with a friend on the bus. When we arrived at her house, we would devour a jar of her mom’s homemade kosher dills, a chunk of cheddar cheese and the box of crackers while watching soap operas. Her pickles were so garlicky and so hot, we called them wicked. While I can’t say that this fermented kosher dill pickle recipe is wicked, I’m sure these pickles will help get your pucker on.
Posted by Chris
Kosher dill pickles are full of healthy probiotics but that’s not their draw. Talk to any Brooklyn expat and the memory of kosher dills on a pastrami sandwich with toasted rye bread evokes a sense of community, of belonging and of home. Now you can make those special kosher dill pickles at home and enjoy the community flavor and memories they evoke, no matter where you live.
Fermented Kosher Dill Pickle Recipe
The process is simple and straight-forward. Kosher dills are fermented, whole pickling cucumbers infused with the flavors of dill and garlic. There is no vinegar in the process, unlike the commercial product that is labeled “Kosher Dills.” Real kosher dills have a sweet-tart-salty taste unique to fermented pickles.
Kosher dill pickles are fermented whole. They are sliced after fermenting, just before you layer them with the pastrami and brown mustard, on rye. You can also enjoy them whole, crunchy, and juicy right from the jar.
How to Make Kosher Dill Pickles
Yield: 2 quarts
• 2 ½ lbs of small to medium-size pickling cucumbers, as fresh as possible*
• 2 heads of fresh dill flowers
• 5 garlic cloves, peeled
• 2 tbsp. Himalayan salt
• 2 tbsp. of starter culture, from a successful batch of fermented pickles*
• 1 to ½ quarts of filtered water
1-2 quart, wide-mouthed mason jars
Thoroughly wash and rinse the jar and the Fermentools kit. Scrub the pickling cucumbers to remove the tiny spines. I use a soft plastic surgical brush for this job. Trim the stems on the cucumbers. There is no need to remove the stem and blossom end of the cucumbers, though.
Place ½ of the prepared cucumbers in the jar. Add the garlic and dill. Fill the jar with the other half of the prepared cucumbers, leaving a 1 inch head space.
Prepare the brine by dissolving 2 tbsp. of salt into 1 quart of filtered water. Stir to dissolve the salt completely. Add the starter culture from a successful batch of fermented vegetables to the brine. If this is your first batch of pickles and you don’t yet have a starter culture see this post to find several ways to obtain a starter culture.
Pour the brine over the contents of the jar. Use a butter knife to dislodge any air pockets and allow the brine to completely fill the jar.
Place the glass weight from the Fermentools kit, into the shoulders of the jar. If necessary, push down on the weight with your fingers to ensure that all the cucumbers are under the brine and the brine extends over the weight. The glass weight will keep the pickles under the brine, ensuring that your batch of kosher dill pickles doesn’t float above the brine in the jar.
Fill the fermentation lock half full of filtered water, and insert it in the stopper. Insert the stopper into the hole in the Fermentools lid. Set the rubber gasket on the rim of the jar and place the prepared Fermentools lid in place. Secure it with a metal ring on the jar.
Place the prepared jar on a plate to catch any overflow from the jar. Put it in a spot away from direct sunlight. I keep mine on the corner of my dining room table so that I remember to check its progress.
At an ambient temperature of around 70°F, your kosher dills will be ready in 5 days. The flavors of these kosher dill pickles will continue to develop over a month to six weeks but the active fermentation period will be complete in less than a week. You can eat them right away or store them in the fridge until you want them.
How to avoid hollow dill pickles
Cucumbers begin to lose their moisture content shortly after picking. They become hollow inside and result in hollow pickles. To ensure that your pickles are firm and juicy, use freshly picked cucumbers or cucumbers that were refrigerated immediately after picking. Even a few hours left in a basket on the kitchen counter, at room temperature, can change the quality of your fermented pickles. And for tips on getting a crunchy pickle, see this post.
*Fermentools does not support the adding of whey to ferments. While some folks like to add whey, or a starter culture, to promote different strains of bacteria, or to give their ferment a boost, it is not necessary. This recipe can be used without it.
Need the right tools to convert your cucumbers into healthy, kosher dill pickles? Check out the Fermentools store. I recommend a six-pack. That way, you can have several jars of pickles going at the same time.