Deli Pickles

About: Architect/designer based between Chicago and SE Minnesota. Resource based problem solver... in other words, I always take a minute to peek in construction dumpsters :) ---the way some have to workout everyd...

Intro: Deli Pickles

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:

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    5 Discussions

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    davekraemer

    Question 14 days ago on Introduction

    I've made lacto pickles before and they were good but the shelf life in the fridge was only a few months before they got soft. Does adding the vinegar help with that? I've never seen a recipe that adds vinegar at the end.

    1 more answer
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    jprussackdavekraemer

    Reply 14 days ago

    No, the vinegar is just for flavor. Potentially it helps preserve but I don't see it extending the crunch. Key thing is to use whole cucumbers (I expect you do) and use smaller ones. Larger the cucumber the faster it goes.

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    ndaehn

    Question 15 days ago

    This makes me want to try out making kosker pickles, thank you. You mention adding 1/4 cup vinegar to your brine mix on day 10. Considering you mentioned different volumes, what is the ratio of vinegar to brine? Am I assuming 1/4 cup of vinegar per 2 liters of brine?

    Also, how long will these pickles last in the refrigerator?

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    ptevyesaur

    19 days ago

    Very keen to give this a go in our summer! Just planted out a bed of cucumbers. Most years they grow like weeds and we have a massive surplus. One question though, roughly what temperature is your “room temperature”? It get very hot where I live so will need to plan where to store them for first 10 days...

    1 reply
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    jprussackptevyesaur

    Reply 17 days ago

    Our room temp is around 75-80. No A/C and I think of that on the high side. I'm running off regular batches and haven't adjusted anything... rare for me. Hope they come out well!