For years I've lived in places where I couldn't buy a proper deli style pickle. Growing up in the Detroit area it was easy. We had Topor's. Real kosher dills are found in the refrigerated section of the grocery because they aren't shelf stable... the rest are just substitutes. The range of online options only try to replicated the flavor
Lacto-Fermented. The common term for this type of pickle making is lacto-fermented. It requires a salt brine to make an environment suited to aerobic respiration of good bacteria. I find that youtubers and bloggers tend to oversell the process... it is just so simple. ---in some photos you'll see the cloudy white bacteria... that's the good stuff
Bucket Method. Here's how I make a traditional recipe using my bucket method. Much easier than canning and not necessary for pickles. ---traditionally pickles are made in barrels. Remember to roll up your sleeves... the best ones are at the bottom!
Step 1: Ingredients
Ingredients are simple.
- Cucumbers (best from the garden, of course)
- Salt + Water
- Dill, Coriander, Mustard, Garlic
Note that I am using a limited amount of seasoning... the seasoning only provides minimal boost to flavor. After moving to the refrigerator on day 10 I add 1/4 cup of vinegar.
Step 2: From Garden to Bucket
Don't Slice. Use any cucumbers you have available but preserve their skin.
The cucumbers I use range in size. The smaller the cucumber the easier it is to preserve the crunch. This is because of water content. The salt pulls water from the cucumber which can cause larger pickles to collapse.
Sterilize. Yes, but not necessary to go to the same extreme as brewing beer/wine or canning. I poor vinegar or boiling water in the bucket after giving it a wash with soapy water.
Step 3: Brine
The Brine Formula
- 1 gal Water - 10 tbsp Salt
- 1/2 gal Water - 5 tbsp Salt
- 1 quart/liter Water - 2.5 tbsp Salt
The equation is simple... if you are going to skew the recipe go with more salt on the first try... you can back off on salt but I don't think it's makes any improvement.
Heat. I put 2 liters in a sauce pan over high heat as I dissolve in the salt. I don't wait for it to get hot I just poor it over the pickles once it's ready.
Step 4: Cover the Cucumbers
Cover your cucumbers with the brine.
I ready online that some pickle makers recommend a layer of sacrificial pickles on top that will start to rot. This is crazy. All you need to do is use a clean ceramic plate to hold down the pickles. In my case I'm using stone tile samples... yes, designers can always find use for material samples!
Step 5: First 10 Days
For the first 10 days I leave the cucumbers at room temp in a bucket with an airlock. You can easily get away with burping your bucket every couple days and you shouldn't wait for an airlock... though it's nice to have.
- See... when you open the bucket the water will be cloudy. that's the good bacteria at work
- Smell... it should smell like cucumbers... pleasant with nothing off about it
- Hear... the bubbles will make a slight sound as the foam adjusts to you removing the lid
Step 6: Finish in the Fridge
After 10 days on the counter the pickles are ready. Move your whole bucket to the fridge or break divide the pickles into wide mouth mason jars. I also keep a few extra smaller buckets handy (yes, I love buckets).
Thanks for reading!
Get Started! Hope this instructable helps you get started with kosher pickles. I explored a lot of places online wand found that people oversold different parts of the process. The fact is that's it's just so easy. Cucumbers are also the easiest vegetable I know to grow in Minnesota. You should certainly consider starting anytime in the first 6 weeks after the last frost with direct planted seeds.
Seeds. Most of my seeds are saved from store bought vegetables... problem is that cucumbers have to over-ripen before the seeds are solid enough to save. I used burbee seeds (bought local) and a pack from dollartree... two plants of each have produced on average 2 lbs of cucumbers per day since mid-july.
More from the garden: