Half Sour Dill Cucumber Pickles

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Half sour pickles on a burger

Half sour pickles, sometimes called “new pickles”, weren’t my favorite growing up. They were overlooked in the quest for the most lip-puckering sour garlic pickles. As my taste buds matured, however, I came to appreciate the more delicate saltiness of a good half sour pickle. From what I’ve noticed, half sours are made from very similar recipes to full sours, but are not left to ferment for as long.

After my recurring failure to make a good sour pickle, I experimented with the less intimidating half sour. I used the same recipe I had been tooling with since the summer. The first time I made them, I found the chips to be a little too small, so instead of using Kirby cucumbers the second time, I used some large jersey cucumbers. You could even use a long seedless cucumber (the kind that come in shrink wrap) for nice large sandwich chips.

I found this recipe on the blog Fork This. The procedure is very similar to the Bread and Butter pickles, except that the cucumbers pickle in salt brine rather than vinegar.

Arthur Schwartz’s Homemade Kosher Pickles adapted by David Lebovitz and Melissa Sands, Pickled Cucumber Recipe:

  • 2 quarts water
  • 3 tablespoons kosher salt – do not substitute table salt or sea salt
  • 12-15 Kirby or small cucumbers, cleaned & sliced as desired
  • 1 bunch of fresh dill, washed
  • 1 teaspoon each: coriander, allspice berries, fennel seeds
  • 4 bay leaves
  • 4 cloves garlic, peeled and lightly crushed

In a large pot, heat water with the salt until dissolved.

Sterilize two 1-quart jars by running them through the dishwasher or filling them with boiling water and dumping it out.

Put two or three bushy sprigs of dill into each jar. Pack in the pickles, layering in each jar: 1 1/2 teaspoons spice mix, 2 bay leaves and 2 smashed garlic cloves.

Carefully pour in the brine to cover the cucumbers completely. Cover each jar with cheesecloth and secure with a rubber band or kitchen twine. Store in a cool, dark place for 3-6 days. When they have reached the desired sourness, put on a lid and refrigerate.

Following these directions, you may end up with extra brine, which you can discard or use to pickle something else. I followed the recipe mostly as written, except that I put the jars straight into the refrigerator to keep them from souring deeply. The result was a crisp, light, salty, dilly pickle. They were great on burgers, sandwiches, and just straight from the jar.

*Incidentally, the face pining away for those Kirby cucumber pickle chips (or maybe just the burger underneath them) belongs to the sweet little dog we adopted this summer, also named Kirby.

One year ago: Being Gluten-Free and the Benefits of Whole Grains


About this author:  I'm a New Yorker who would rather cook than go out to restaurants. Sometimes I think I may be in the wrong city for that. Then I remember the exotic ingredients I'd be hard-pressed to find if I lived somewhere else. My cooking style is an eclectic range of everyday-American, Italian, middle-eastern, with extensive forays into Japanese cuisine, and some pit-stops into Indian and African cuisines. I love to try my hand at recreating dishes I taste. While I enjoy most anything with a flavor, from high cuisine to instant junk food, I have a soft spot in my belly for home-style cooking no matter the geographic or ethnic origin.

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