Sour Pickles

Sour pickles: I love them. I can’t say it was always the case though. Growing up in France my first encounter with a sour pickle was at [cough-cough] Mc Donald’s.. because let’s say it: McDonald’s used to boobytrap their burgers with suspicious pickles I clearly didn’t request. At the time cornichons left me totally indifferent and the all-american pickle was unknown to me, so biting into the unexpected the first time left me grimacing. Here’s the thing about removing unwanted pickles from Mc Donald’s burgers: you can’t. Not all the way. By the time you sit down with that burger, it’s already too late. It has spread. Your only hope is to dig deep inside the airy, foamy, artificially engineered part of that bun and jackhammer out the affected areas, which turn out to be about 75% of its total mass. Now you have holes in your bun and ketchup is squirting everywhere and. err.. nevermind.

Needless to say that me, Mc Donald and pickles didn’t start on really good terms. I’ve never made up with Mc Donald (yuck), but I came around pickles. It turns out dill pickles, sour pickles, half-sour pickles are all delicious little things and I love to have a jar of them ready to go in my refrigerator. Especially this sour pickles recipe, it carries a little heat from the chilis and a good balance between the garlic and the dill. Very nice. I love them in Cuban sandwiches, in “real” burgers, with pastrami sandwiches, pickled herring, all sorts of charcuterie and terrine. Am I missing out on anything? What is the best thing to eat with sour pickles?

  • Sour Pickles Recipe

    • Makes about 30 pickles
    • For the pickles:
    • 25 kirby cucumbers
    • 14 cups water
    • 6 tablespoons Kosher salt
    • 2 to 3 dried árbol chiles (or hot chili flakes)
    • 3 bay leaves
    • 2 teaspoons yellow mustard seeds
    • 1 tablespoon coriander seeds
    • 1 tablespoon fennel seeds
    • 1 tablespoon black peppercorns
    • 1 tablespoon dill seeds
    • 6 garlic cloves, halved
    • 2 bunches of dill
    • For the brining liquid:
    • 1 cup Kosher salt
    • 2/3 cup sugar
    • 3 cups plus 4 cups water
    • 3 cups cider vinegar
    • 4 cups distilled white vinegar
    • For the pickles:
    • Wash the cucumbers. In a large container, combine the water and salt and stir until the salt is dissolved. Place the cucumbers in a large nonreactive container and add enough of the salt water to cover them. Cover with plastic wrap and let the mixture sit at room temperature overnight.
    • The next day, strain the and salt water rinse the cucumbers and pack them into half-gallon mason jars. How many you can fit in a jar will depend on their size.
    • If using chiles de arbol crumble them with your fingers (don’t touch your eyes and wash your hands afterward!), and place them with the bay leaves in a bowl with the mustard seeds, coriander seeds, fennel seeds, black peppercorns, and dill seeds. Stir to combine. Divide the spice mixture evenly among the jars of cucumbers. Do the same with the garlic cloves and dill.
    • Pour enough of the pickling brine into each of the jars to completely cover the cucumbers. Cover the jars tightly and let the cucumbers marinate in the refrigerator for at least 3 weeks before using, turning the jars upside down every few days to redistribute the spices. The pickles will keep in the refrigerator for up to 10 weeks.
    • For the brining liquid:
    • Combine the salt, sugar, and 3 cups of the water in a large nonreactive pot, and bring the mixture to a boil over medium heat until the salt and sugar have completely dissolved and the liquid appears totally clear.
    • Add the cider vinegar, white vinegar, and the remaining water; stir. Allow the mixture to cool completely before using in the recipe.
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  • Chris

    On its own! Sometimes chopped and mixed into my sandwich stuffers. Now, that’s harder to pick out than that McDonald’s burger. 😛 Having said that, I faced the same childhood problem with my McDonald’s burger. Such a plastic nuisance.

  • http://www.ouichefnetwork.com Oui, Chef

    YUM! I am so buying some kirby’s at this week’s farmer’s market.

  • zenchef

    Yay! Awesome!

  • zenchef

    On its own! That’s for pickle connoisseurs! :)

  • Grasshopper

    with a side of pickles
    welcome back zensei

  • kitchenriffs

    Those pickles are such a gorgeous green! And I’m with Chris — I like eating pickles all by themselves. Fun post — thanks.

  • Frank @Memorie di Angelina

    Like you, I have a complicated relationship with pickles. I really love half sours, the garlickier the better. Full sour, not so much!

  • billy brown

    amazing!!! thank you for all the great info on Sour Pickles. I have been wanting to do this for a long time and now I think I’ll give it a whirl.