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Making Half (and Full) Sours


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#1 moosnsqrl

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Posted 01 July 2006 - 03:13 PM

Does anyone have a recipe for anything approximating Zabar's fresh pickles? I scored some fabulous baby cukes this morning and they're begging to be turned into fresh (uncooked, minimally processed) pickles like the ones they sell. I have The Joy of Pickling but none of the recipes in it look like they would yield anything similar.

TIA if someone can help me give them the treatment they so richly deserve.
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#2 CaliPoutine

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Posted 01 July 2006 - 05:43 PM

I'm so with you. I grew up with half sour or full sour pickles. I'm now forced to spend 4.50 a jar for Strubs here in Ontario or 2.69 at Trader Joe's in Michigan. I have access to bushels of cukes from the menonites, hopefully somebody will come thru with a recipe.

Edited by CaliPoutine, 02 July 2006 - 04:40 PM.


#3 jasie

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Posted 01 July 2006 - 06:29 PM

I haven't tried the zabar/staub pickles you guys mentioned but I have a recipe that a friend gave me for half-sours. Not sure how it compares to those but to me, its pretty good! I like it with jalepeno, or even a habanero in the salt solution but even straight up without, its pretty good. This makes about 4cups/a quart. :)

Half- Sours

5 cloves garlic
1 quart pickling/small cucumbers
1 small celery heart
4 tsp kosher salt
3 cups water
1-2 small chili (optional)

- peel, lightly crush garlic
- arrange the cukes, celery, chili, garlic etc in non-reactive container
- combine salt, water, stir til dissolved, pour into container.
- cover with non-reactive weight (plate/saucer?). cukes etc shd be submerged by 2 inches
- cover with clean tea towel, store ar room temp for 4-6 days. skim off any foam that forms
- when fermentation stops (no more bubbles) cover and refridgerate.
- Keeps for 3-4 weeks refridgerated.

Notes:
-I use a pyrex measuring jar for the pickling, and a 2 small saucers as weights before transfering them to another jar for refridgeration.
-Habanero, jalapeno etc can be added for variety. I don't like Dill so I've never tried adding dill...but should be good too!
-Bubbling/fermentation starts around the 2nd day, ends around 4th.
-Check everyday for foam on top
-Recipe can be easily doubled

#4 Fat Guy

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Posted 01 July 2006 - 08:42 PM

Zabar's and its ilk tend to have pickles in three strengths: new, half-sour and sour. All of these types of pickles differ from what you'd typically see in the unrefrigerated supermarket selection, in that they have a lot of crunch and snap. They also lack the sweetness of a lot of mass-market pickles. They're typically sold either out of bins/barrels or in refrigerated jars.

Jasie's procedure looks right for about a three-quarter sour pickle. Generally, I think the computation is overnight for new pickles, 2-3 days for half-sour pickles and 10+ days for full sour pickles. When the pickles reach the desired "doneness," you refrigerate them and they'll hold for a week or two if you're lucky.

I'd also recommend adjusting the spice mix a bit, because the old New York kosher-style pickle flavor profile involves a few flavors in addition to garlic. The list is typically garlic, dill, whole peppercorns, bay leaves, mustard seeds and coriander seeds, I think.

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#5 moosnsqrl

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Posted 01 July 2006 - 09:02 PM

I think that'll do it. I'll let ya know how they turn out.

Thanks mucho!
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#6 kiliki

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Posted 10 August 2006 - 12:00 PM

Wow. I had no idea half-sours were so easy to make. I made the above recipe, with the addition of peppercorns and a jalapeno, with some baby pickling cukes I got at the farmer's market last week and they were fantastic.

#7 CaliPoutine

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Posted 10 August 2006 - 12:19 PM

Wow. I had no idea half-sours were so easy to make. I made the above recipe, with the addition of peppercorns and a jalapeno, with some baby pickling cukes I got at the farmer's market last week and they were fantastic.

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How many days did you let them sit on the counter?

#8 ludja

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Posted 10 August 2006 - 12:47 PM

Thanks for the tips, Jasie and Fat Guy...

I saw some pickling cucumbers on sale last week and tried something close to Jasie's recipe and couldn't believe how easy and how great the taste and texture were.

For my first batch I used salt, vinegar, black pepper, crushed garlic, crushed coriander and dill.

I like the chile idea!
"Under the dusty almond trees, ... stalls were set up which sold banana liquor, rolls, blood puddings, chopped fried meat, meat pies, sausage, yucca breads, crullers, buns, corn breads, puff pastes, longanizas, tripes, coconut nougats, rum toddies, along with all sorts of trifles, gewgaws, trinkets, and knickknacks, and cockfights and lottery tickets."

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#9 Toliver

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Posted 10 August 2006 - 02:56 PM

Perhaps I should pose this question in the "Stupid Questions" thread but I've always assumed that pickling involved an acid (vinegar) of some sort to act as a sort of preservative or preventative (preventing mold growth).
Yet, the recipe posted earlier by jasie is acid-free.
If there's no vinegar in the recipe, where does the "sour" come from?

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#10 CaliPoutine

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Posted 10 August 2006 - 03:00 PM

Perhaps I should pose this question in the "Stupid Questions" thread but I've always assumed that pickling involved an acid (vinegar) of some sort to act as a sort of preservative or preventative (preventing mold growth).
Yet, the recipe posted earlier by jasie is acid-free.
If there's no vinegar in the recipe, where does the "sour" come from?

View Post



I wondered the same thing, but I think that the "sour" comes from the fermentation of the pickles sitting on the counter. New pickles arent really sour and I find Half-sour's not that sour either.

#11 ludja

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Posted 10 August 2006 - 03:07 PM

Thanks for the tips, Jasie and Fat Guy...

I saw some pickling cucumbers on sale last week and tried something close to Jasie's recipe and couldn't believe how easy and how great the taste and texture were.

For my first batch I used salt, vinegar, black pepper, crushed garlic, crushed coriander and dill.

I like the chile idea!

View Post


I didn't notice that Jasie's recipe didn't have vinegar in it! The way I made my refrigerator pickles was to immerse the slices in a mixture of white and cider vinegar along with the flavorings. I didn't add any water and I put the pickle slices in the fridge immediately and just stirred them every few hours.
"Under the dusty almond trees, ... stalls were set up which sold banana liquor, rolls, blood puddings, chopped fried meat, meat pies, sausage, yucca breads, crullers, buns, corn breads, puff pastes, longanizas, tripes, coconut nougats, rum toddies, along with all sorts of trifles, gewgaws, trinkets, and knickknacks, and cockfights and lottery tickets."

-- Gabriel Garcia Marquez, 1962 "Big Mama's Funeral"


#12 kiliki

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Posted 10 August 2006 - 03:20 PM

How many days did you let them sit on the counter?



3 full days. However, I did start eating them after 24 hours, when they were new pickles, and I loved them then, too.

#13 ludja

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Posted 10 August 2006 - 03:40 PM

Perhaps I should pose this question in the "Stupid Questions" thread but I've always assumed that pickling involved an acid (vinegar) of some sort to act as a sort of preservative or preventative (preventing mold growth).
Yet, the recipe posted earlier by jasie is acid-free.
If there's no vinegar in the recipe, where does the "sour" come from?

View Post



I wondered the same thing, but I think that the "sour" comes from the fermentation of the pickles sitting on the counter. New pickles arent really sour and I find Half-sour's not that sour either.

View Post


click

(There is a recipe in the link as well.)

Note:
Real deli-style Kosher pickles have no vinegar added in the process unlike regular dills. They get their bite from fermentation. Just like when you go to the grocery store and see pickles in the refrigerated section, these pickles must be kept in the fridge. The fermenting will continue unabated if you don't stop it by putting them in the refrigerator. The cold greatly slows down the fermentation but won't stop it completely. It will continue to age but at a much slower rate. There is only one thing to do to stop the aging. EAT THEM ! Enjoy !


"Under the dusty almond trees, ... stalls were set up which sold banana liquor, rolls, blood puddings, chopped fried meat, meat pies, sausage, yucca breads, crullers, buns, corn breads, puff pastes, longanizas, tripes, coconut nougats, rum toddies, along with all sorts of trifles, gewgaws, trinkets, and knickknacks, and cockfights and lottery tickets."

-- Gabriel Garcia Marquez, 1962 "Big Mama's Funeral"


#14 Toliver

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Posted 10 August 2006 - 04:58 PM

Perhaps I should pose this question in the "Stupid Questions" thread but I've always assumed that pickling involved an acid (vinegar) of some sort to act as a sort of preservative or preventative (preventing mold growth).
Yet, the recipe posted earlier by jasie is acid-free.
If there's no vinegar in the recipe, where does the "sour" come from?

View Post



I wondered the same thing, but I think that the "sour" comes from the fermentation of the pickles sitting on the counter. New pickles arent really sour and I find Half-sour's not that sour either.

View Post


click

(There is a recipe in the link as well.)

Note:
Real deli-style Kosher pickles have no vinegar added in the process unlike regular dills. They get their bite from fermentation. Just like when you go to the grocery store and see pickles in the refrigerated section, these pickles must be kept in the fridge. The fermenting will continue unabated if you don't stop it by putting them in the refrigerator. The cold greatly slows down the fermentation but won't stop it completely. It will continue to age but at a much slower rate. There is only one thing to do to stop the aging. EAT THEM ! Enjoy !

View Post

Thanks for posting that info.
I guess I was thrown by the use of the word "pickle" since pickling involves either a vinegar solution or a brine solution as a source of preservation. I didn't see any vinegar in the recipe and it didn't look like it called for enough salt to be a brine so I was puzzled as to where the "sour" was originating.
And is "fermenting" another word for "rotting"? Is there enough salt present to scare off any little critters that may want to take up residence in the cukes and/or the solution?
Where is that eGullet food science forum when you need it? :laugh:

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Brian: Peter, those are Cheerios.”
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#15 kiliki

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Posted 28 August 2006 - 04:32 PM

Is there enough salt present to scare off any little critters that may want to take up residence in the cukes and/or the solution?


Well, the pickles don't really last any longer than they would if they were fresh cukes and weren't in the solution (a week or maybe two), so I guess not.

#16 mizducky

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Posted 28 August 2006 - 05:50 PM

click

(There is a recipe in the link as well.)

Note:
Real deli-style Kosher pickles have no vinegar added in the process unlike regular dills. They get their bite from fermentation. Just like when you go to the grocery store and see pickles in the refrigerated section, these pickles must be kept in the fridge. The fermenting will continue unabated if you don't stop it by putting them in the refrigerator. The cold greatly slows down the fermentation but won't stop it completely. It will continue to age but at a much slower rate. There is only one thing to do to stop the aging. EAT THEM ! Enjoy !

View Post

Amen.

I have long had a love/hate relationship with regular non-refrigerated supermarket pickles, specifically because they depend so heavily on vinegar for their sourness. I was raised to believe that *real* pickles--the kind you used to be able to get at any authentic New York Jewish-style deli--were the kind that had no vinegar in them whatsoever and solely depended on salt, spices, and natural fermentation for their voodoo. I will eat, and sometimes even sorta-kinda enjoy, a good-quality vinegar-based pickle, but to my taste they are far inferior to those pickles made without any vinegar at all. The taste, texture, just everything is totally different--and are what I think, in my admittedly heavily-prejudiced opinion, a truly good pickle should be. :smile:

Edited by mizducky, 28 August 2006 - 05:51 PM.


#17 moosnsqrl

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Posted 28 August 2006 - 07:39 PM

There are pickles and, then, there are pickles. You can't blame people who have never had real ones. In some places, Claussen is as real as it gets. Now that I have been enlightened and know that my own half-sours are only a few days away, I will never again be forced to suffer false cucurbit idols.
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#18 mizducky

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Posted 29 August 2006 - 08:37 AM

There are pickles and, then, there are pickles.  You can't blame people who have never had real ones.  In some places, Claussen is as real as it gets.  Now that I have been enlightened and know that my own half-sours are only a few days away, I will never again be forced to suffer false cucurbit idols.

View Post

Heh. I should also put another caveat on my pickle rant--as a child of New York, I already have demonstrated prejudices about the New York versions of certain food items--pizza, bagels, etc. My prejudices about pickles should probably be read in that context. :biggrin:

(Plus there are certain pickle styles, like sweet mixed pickles and hot giardiniara, where I consider all bets regarding the "brine" ingredients to be decidedly *off*. :laugh: )

#19 CharityCase

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Posted 29 August 2006 - 02:32 PM

There are pickles and, then, there are pickles.  You can't blame people who have never had real ones.  In some places, Claussen is as real as it gets.  Now that I have been enlightened and know that my own half-sours are only a few days away, I will never again be forced to suffer false cucurbit idols.

View Post

Heh. I should also put another caveat on my pickle rant--as a child of New York, I already have demonstrated prejudices about the New York versions of certain food items--pizza, bagels, etc. My prejudices about pickles should probably be read in that context. :biggrin:

(Plus there are certain pickle styles, like sweet mixed pickles and hot giardiniara, where I consider all bets regarding the "brine" ingredients to be decidedly *off*. :laugh: )

View Post


I think I'm finally ready to try making my own. Thanks for posting the recipe.

For a good stand-in though there's a brand available up here called Bubbe's Pickles that I enjoy. They are vinegar-less and available (around here anyway) at health and natural food stores.

Edited by CharityCase, 29 August 2006 - 02:32 PM.


#20 Haggis man

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Posted 01 September 2006 - 01:26 PM

I made some half sours using a simular recipe last night. The difference was I was told to put boiling water on top of the pickles.

My question is this, i am using a 1 gallon bean pot with a loose lid. Is there any reason to not have the lid on? Most recipes I saww said to put a tea towel over the top. Will the fermantation process form a gas?

One last question to those in the know... Does the quanity of pickles being made matter? I suspect as long as the salt solution is constant, thsi should not be a problem.

FYI one recipe had you add a small amount of vinegar (1/4 cup) to help the process.
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#21 Pam R

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Posted 01 September 2006 - 01:50 PM

For a good stand-in though there's a brand available up here called Bubbe's Pickles that I enjoy. They are vinegar-less and available (around here anyway) at health and natural food stores.

View Post

If you're not into or can't make them yourself, I second that recommendation. I sell Bubbe's in my store because they taste almost the same as my Bubbe's home-made pickles tasted. Great pickle - but once you open a jar eat them quickly, or they'll go a little 'off'.

#22 weinoo

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Posted 02 September 2006 - 05:21 AM

Perhaps I should pose this question in the "Stupid Questions" thread but I've always assumed that pickling involved an acid (vinegar) of some sort to act as a sort of preservative or preventative (preventing mold growth).
Yet, the recipe posted earlier by jasie is acid-free.
If there's no vinegar in the recipe, where does the "sour" come from?

View Post



I wondered the same thing, but I think that the "sour" comes from the fermentation of the pickles sitting on the counter. New pickles arent really sour and I find Half-sour's not that sour either.

View Post


There is an acid involved and it is lactic acid, which is created during the fermentation process. This happens when bacteria breaks down the sugars, and creates the sourness as well as helping to preserve the food. Without undergoing canning, these pickles should be stored in the refrigerator, which slows down the fermentation process.

I just made a nice batch of "famous" Back-Eddy house pickles from Quick Pickles by Chris Schlesinger. This is a vinegared, sweet quick pickle, and is fabulous when made with super fresh farmer's market vegetables.

At the same time, I made a batch of pickeld string beans, made with white wine vinegar, salt and spices. Way too sour for my taste, and I think the wine vinegar was at fault.

Another great resource is The Joy of Pickling by Linda Ziedrich...everything you always wanted to know about pickles but were afraid to ask!
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#23 bobmac

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Posted 22 September 2006 - 08:17 AM

I like half sours at the crisp stage, really half sour. So I just made a very small batch, but I suspect they will get soft before I eat them all (wife will have one occasionally_. Since it seems rather bizarre to offer friends and neighbors just couple of pickles, can I slow them down by taking them out of the pickle juice and storing them in a plastic bag in the fridge? Or will the fridge alone slow them down? I find in delis they are sometimes too pickled, but maybe they don't keep them cold enough.
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#24 Chris Amirault

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Posted 24 September 2006 - 09:04 AM

From both my own experience and the inferences I'm drawing from a quick read of McGee, I'm thinking that you're not going to be able to slow them down because they are quickly perishable and the brine has already permeated the cucumber flesh to the point that removing them from it will not have much of an effect.

I think. :huh:
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