If you love the taste of authentic, deli-style kosher pickles, but don't live near a deli, then you should try making these delicious pickles yourself. They are relatively easy to make and only require a few ingredients.
The main thing to understand about kosher, deli-style pickles is that they are made without vinegar. Instead, they undergo a process called lacto-fermentation. This is achieved using salt-water brine. The salt kills off bad bacteria, but does not kill off the healthy bacteria (lactobacilli), which gives the pickles their unique flavor. This same bacteria is found in kimchi.
What You Need To Make The Fermented Kosher Pickles
1 Large Mason Jar: This is the container you will use to hold the cucumbers in during the fermentation process.
4-6 Small Kirby Cucumbers: You should not get large cucumbers because they will get soft in the middle. Also avoid the normal cucumbers that you would use for slicing into a salad. They have too soft a texture already and will become mushy.
Kosher Salt: You have to get salt that doesn't have iodine. Iodine will kill off the beneficial bacteria and will result in plain saltwater. If you can't find Kosher salt, you can use regular table salt as long as it does not contain iodine.
Garlic, Dill, Peppercorn: These are the common spices, but you can add others, such as red pepper flakes, or mustard seed.
Distilled Water: Distilled water is free of impurities that could harm the bacteria and prevent fermentation.
Cheesecloth: Used to cover the Mason jar opening.
Clean the cucumbers and then pack them into the mason jar. You want the cucumbers to be packed in tight so that they won't float up when you pour in the water and salt. If the cucumbers float, then the tops won't ferment properly and may rot, so wedge them in as tight as possible.
The water-to-salt ratio should be ½ cup of salt per gallon of water. Mix the salt and water in a steel pot and then stir in the spices. Then pour the mixture over the cucumbers so that it completely covers the cukes.
Do not close the Mason jar with the lid. You are going to want the pickles to "breathe". Secure a stretch of cheesecloth over the opening of the Mason jar with a rubber band.
Store the Mason jar in a cool spot in your kitchen, but not the refrigerator. Check the jar every few days. The pickles should start to develop the classic smell that you associate with kosher pickles. After 5 days, take the cheesecloth off and remove any foam from the top of the brine with a steel spoon, then put the metal lid on the Mason jar. At this point, you can place the jar in the refrigerator and store the pickles for up to a month.
Next time you check out your favorite kosher pickle brands, keep an eye on what spices and herbs they use so you can experiment with creating your own flavors as well!