(7.08.13: Pssst… there’s an updated version of this recipe- click here for it…)
I don’t know Arthur Schwartz, but I know my Jason. And in addition to being a world-renowned rock star & life-saver/protector of the masses, Jason is a pickle person. A pickle lover, if I may say so. However, it recently came to light, what with me making so many jars of pickles this summer, that Jason is not a fan of pickles made with vinegar..
*tumble weeds blow past*
Yeah. No vinegar. He likes old fashioned Kosher dill deli pickles. His favorite pickles, Bubbies, are made without vinegar. So back in July he asked me try and make pickles that way, and the first recipe I came upon was this one. It looked really easy, got good reviews (it’s on David Leibovitz’s website, how could it not) and the photos looked great, so I tried it.
EASIEST PICKLES EVER.
The part about these that’s good for most people is they aren’t canned/jarred, so you don’t need special equipment to make them. Just any old jar will do, even an old spaghetti sauce jar. David says:
Arthur advises making sure the cukes aren’t bitter before pickling them, so be sure to take a bite of one. In the US, at farmer’s markets, they often give samples first. If you live somewhere, like say, in Paris, you can do something similar to My Trader Joe’s Wine Test: Buy a bottle, take it out to the parking lot, open it, and take a swig. If it’s good, go back and buy a case.
I found the recipe made a bit more brine than I needed, but that’s probably because my cucumbers were different than what was advised in the recipe. Just for fun, I did one jar by splitting the cucumbers lengthwise and they worked great. It’s a good tip if you want your pickles in a hurry since that jar was ready after just days of fermenting.
- 4 quarts water
- 6 tablespoons coarse white salt (Kosher, if available)
- 18-20 Kirby cucumbers, scrubbed
- 8 cloves garlic, unpeeled and lightly-crushed
- 2 tablespoons pickling spice
- 6 bay leaves*
- 1 large bunch of dill, preferably going to seed, washed
- sanitized jars
- In a large pot, bring 1 qt (1l) water to a boil with the salt, stirring until the salt is dissolved. Remove from heat and add the remaining water.
- Prepare three 1 quart (liter) wide mouth jars (or 6 pint jars) by running them through the dishwasher or filling them with boiling water, then dumping it out.
- Pack the cucumbers vertically into the jars, making sure they’re tightly-packed. As you fill the jars, divide the garlic, spices, bay leaves, and dill amongst them.
- Fill the jars with brine so that the cucumbers are completely covered. Cover the jars with cheesecloth, secured with rubber bands, or loosely with the lids. Store in a cool, dark place for 3 days.
- After 3 days, taste one. The pickles can ferment from 3 to 6 days. The longer the fermentation, the more sour they’ll become. Once the pickles are to your liking, refrigerate them.
Please be aware that the recipe as it’s written above makes A LOT OF PICKLES. Be sure to reduce it based on how much you want to make.
What I did, since it was so hot when I first made these back in July, was after 12 hours of sitting in a dark cabinet, I put the pickles in the fridge anyway. I figured the 100+ degree weather wouldn’t help, and there certainly weren’t many “cool” places that I could safely store a jar. I mean, sure, the A/C works well, but the kitchen is always the hottest room & I can’t realistically store pickles in the living room behind the couch or in the bedroom under the bed (that’s where the monsters are, duh). I used a glass jar with a hinge closure that has a rubber seal & they claim it’s 100% airtight, but it really isn’t; I know this because when tilted for a test, a little dribble of brine worked itself out. Either way, I left it open just a bit the first 12 hours. Then I closed it to put it in the fridge because the last thing I want is for it to get knocked over, the cap fly off and waste all the brine, in turn causing my fridge to smell like a deli. Ikea sells some really nice fancy-looking jars that would work well for a refrigerator pickle recipe, but again any jar will do. A Kerr/Ball mason jar, an old spaghetti sauce or pickle jar, etc. And now is the perfect time to make these, because the weather is getting much cooler & you don’t have to stress about where to put them.
I used dill seeds & dill weed, because I had no fresh dill, and it worked just fine. Also, I didn’t tightly pack them. Mainly because I was making other pickles at the time and didn’t want to waste a lot of cucumbers on this recipe that might not pan out. But my fears & worries were for naught; they smelled fantastic after just 12 hours. Jay didn’t try one until almost 4 days of fermenting, and he said they were awesome, and couldn’t stop eating them. Maybe I’ve succeeded in nudging Bubbies out of the way? I think so. And it’s such an easy way to make them; no water bath, no sealing the jars, etc. Not that any of that is difficult, really, ’cause it isn’t. But it was way quicker to make. And he loved them, so they were a huge success in my book. So of course, I had to make another batch. Two, actually. And probably a third before the fresh cukes disappear.
Just be aware that this is not a safe method for keeping the pickles for a long period of time. It’s meant for eating fairly soon, and for storage in a fridge. Check them for funky smells or funky things growing in there, and if you don’t refrigerate it for a few days, even if it’s in a very cool place… keep an eye on it even more. I’ve heard gross things. Horror stories, I tell you. I’m talking about pickles growing hands & feet & walking away… that kind of thing.
So there you have it. Über easy Kosher deli-style pickles, made without vinegar & no “complicated” water baths or canning processes. Don’t say I never gave you anything. Now seriously- bring on the fall!