Deli-Style Kosher Dill Pickles–The Full Ferment

Revised on August 7, 2014:

Deli-style Kosher Dills, like the ones you get at any respectable delicatessen, are a “must” on my list of foods to make and preserve. Since gherkin cucumber season is winding down, I’ve got to get to the farmers market early to make sure I get enough.    Twelve pounds of gherkins will get my family through a winter of  “Sandwich Night Wednesdays”  plus the occasional packed lunch with a few more quarts to give away to those friends and families who prize pickles as much as I do. If you have attempted the Half Sour, be brave and take that next step— Deli-style Kosher Dills.   It’s actually quite easy— time and microbes do most of the work.  For a quick overview of the fermentation process, check out Fermentation Pickling Primer. Currants and leavesI add currant leaves to my kosher dills while they ferment.  Not only do they impart a unique and wholly enjoyable smoky flavor, but currant (grape and sour cherry) leaves also contain an enzyme which keeps the cucumbers crisp as they ferment.  If you don’t have a currant bush, grape vine or sour cherry cherry tree, ask your farmer.  Currants grow everywhere in Wisconsin.  In my postage stamp garden, I have 7 currant bushes.  They grow with little care and in the shade, which perfectly suits my gardening style and garden.

DIRECTIONS FOR FERMENTING PICKLES–DELI-STYLE KOSHER DILLSDeli-style Kosher Dills--Ingredients Equipment for Pickling

#1–Gather all the ingredients and equipment:

Ingredients for Fermenting

  • About 3 ½ lbs. pickling cucumbers (3 –5 inches), blossom ends removeBlossom-Endd
  • 6 large sprigs of fresh dill
  • 6 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 3 T pickling spice
  • About 12-15 currant or sour cherry leaves (Optional)

Ingredients for the Brine

  • 1 gallon water
  • 3/4 heaping cup salt
  • 1/2 cup vinegar (5% acidity)

Equipment for fermenting

Equipment for Fermenting Pickles

  • 6 quart vessel– The picture above shows other vessels I like to use when fermenting more or less cucumbers. Any non-reactive container is fine.
  • Food-grade seal-able plastic bag (like a Ziplock storage) large enough to keep cucumbers submerged

#2–Scrub cucumbers and shave off the blossom-end with a knife or scratch off with your nail (See picture above).  The blossom-end contains enzymes which may soften the cucumber. Deli-Style Kosher Dills--Soaking cucumbers in an ice water bath

#3–(Optional) Soak the cucumbers in an ice water bath for 6-24 hours to maximize crispness.  This isn’t absolutely necessary, but if they are straight from the garden or farmers market, it does help to remove the field heat and keep them crisp.

Deli-style Kosher Dills--Preparing the brine and ingredients #4–Prepare a 5% brine solution–4 quarts water + 3/4 heaping cups canning salt + 1/2 cup flavorful vinegar (optional).  Thoroughly mix until the salt is dissolved.  Add a portion of the brine–about 1 quart–to a strong, food grade plastic bag and seal. I use 1 gallon Ziplock freezer or storage bag. This is your weight to keep the pickles submerged.

Weighted pickles with a brine filled bag #5–Add the cucumbers, dill, garlic spices and leaves to the vessel with the 3 quarts of remaining brine. Place the sealed bag of brine on top of cucumbers making sure that all of the cucumbers are completely submerged. It is necessary to keep them submerged so they are in an anaerobic environment.  Fermentation and lactic acid can only occur in an anaerobic environment.

#6–Check pickles every few days skimming off the white scum.  The pickles should be ready in about 2 weeks (no more than 4).  You’ll know they are done when they are a uniform olive green and taste like a pickle.Deli-style Kosher Dills--fermentation complete

#7–Remove the pickles from the brine and rinse off any yeast.  Strain the brine twice: First in a colander to remove spices and herbs. Second, through a coffee filter to reduce cloudiness. Store pickles in the brine in the refrigerator; they should keep for about a year.   (See directions for canning the pickles below).

Cooking with Kids: I let the kids do most of the work with making pickles. It’s perfect for them.  It involves lots of washing, water, mixing and measuring.  Other than measuring the correct amount of salt, this isn’t precision work, nor does it involve knives or fire.  I also let them skim off the yeast and mold over the 2 – 3 weeks it takes for the pickles to ferment.  They especially love this task for unknown reasons.  I’m guessing the “Yuck Factor” plays a role or maybe it is just the miracle of witnessing something appear from seemingly nothing.

 

If you want to can them for long-term pantry storage, read on.  You may also want to click on the  link for a quick tutorial in Hot water-bath can.

Deli-Style Kosher Dill Pickles

DIRECTIONS FOR CANNING YOUR FERMENTED DELI-STYLE KOSHER DILLS

STEP 1–Gather all your ingredients and canning equipment:

Ingredients for Canning

  • 6 cloves garlic, minced
  • Crushed red pepper flakes or whole hot pepper (optional)
  • Mustard seeds (optional)
  • Sprigs of fresh dill
  • Fermented pickles
  • Filtered brine or freshly made brine—¼ cup salt : 2 quarts water : 2 cups vinegar (5% acidity)

Equipment for Canning

Boil the brineSTEP 2–If you have not done so, filter brine through a coffee filter. Next, boil for five minutes. If you do not like a cloudy brine, you may make new by combining ¼ cup salt : 2 quarts water : 2 cups vinegar (5% acidity) and boiling this for 5 minutes. I sometimes use a combination of fresh and fermented brine. Pack pickles into clean hot jarsSTEP 3–Meanwhile, pack pickles into clean, hot, canning jars along with 1 – 2 cloves fresh garlic, minced and ¼ t crushed red pepper or 1 t mustard seeds and fresh dill. Pour Hot brine

STEP 4–Pour in hot brine over the pickles leaving ½ inch head space. Use a hot-water bath to can the pickles; process pint jars for 10 minutes, quart jars for 15 minutes. canning canned deli-style kosher dills

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6 thoughts on “Deli-Style Kosher Dill Pickles–The Full Ferment

  1. I’ve been making pickles for about 10 years. I usually start with 1 cup salt to a gallon. This is too much salt for the final product but I ensures the right bacteria is the one that predominates. After the brine becomes cloudy I pour off about 1/3 of the brine and add filtered water. This brings down the salty flavor after the correct bacteria has flourished. ( I use the high salt poured leftover to pickle sausage ). To this I add a little acid, sometimes cider vinegar, sometimes lemon juice. Sometimes I use Basalmic vinegar, but remember, there is additional salt in the cukes that will be leeched out and that will affect whatever flavoring is used to pack the product. I taste after a day or two and maybe add more water or hot sauce or something.

    • Thanks for sharing your technique. Do you can them or just store them in the fridge and eat them? I also am very interested in hearing about how you pickle sausage!!

    • I would love to hear about your pickled sausage recipe with the lacto salt brine… I have searched for how to do this on the internet and so far all i can find is vinegar pickled sausage.

  2. Just curious on how long the pickles should sit after they have been water bathed with the new brine? I just do not. See anything listed for it.

    Thanks:)

    • I’m a little unclear about the question but I imagine that you are thinking about these canned pickles like one would think about a fresh pack pickle that has to cure (pickle) on the shelf in its vinegar brine. However these are pickles already when you can them so you don’t have to let them set and cure in the vinegar for any length of time. You should, of course, wait for them to cool for about 12 hours before you open them.

      Or perhaps you mean what is the shelf-life of the canned fermented pickle. If that is the case, 1 year after canning is a good rule of thumb. It is not that they will become poisonous; it is simply that the quality will diminish after a year–they might become a bit more mushy–that sort of thing.

      I hope that I answered your question. Let me know if I didn’t. It helps everyone. So thank you for posting!

      • Thank you for answering so quickly:)

        Yes as we were packing the fermented pickles into the jar my daughter kept asking me if these had to sit as long fresh pack. Thanks for all the great information.
        This is my first year as canner so I grateful for all the advice.
        This recipe was simple, easy to follow and we loved the results. These are on the top.of list for next year.

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