New York Deli-Style Pickles

Tangy and crunchy, these are a cinch to make at home!

By: Kirsten Shockey

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New York Deli-Style Pickles

Tangy and crunchy, these are a cinch to make at home!
Course: Side Dish
Keyword: new york, pickles
Servings: 1 gallon
Author: Kirsten Shockey


  • 20 pickling-type cucumbers (not waxed)
  • 15 cloves garlic
  • 1-2 dried red chiles
  • 6 bay leaves
  • 2 tablespoons pickling spice, or 1½ teaspoons mustard seed, 1 teaspoon dill seed (or, better, 2 fresh dill seed heads), and 1 teaspoon coriander seed
  • 1 gallon Cucumber Brine (¾ cup unrefined sea salt to 1 gallon unchlorinated water)
  • Grape, oak, or horseradish leaves, enough to top the jar or crock (optional)


  • Scrub the cucumbers in water. Trim off the stems and scrub off the blossom ends, as they contain an enzyme that will soften the pickles.
  • Lightly mash the garlic cloves with the back of a knife, just enough to break them.
  • Pack the cucumbers, incorporating the garlic, chiles, bay leaves, and spices as you go, into four wide-mouth quart jars or a 1-gallon jar or crock. Pour in enough brine to cover them. Tuck the grape leaves, if using, or a piece of plastic wrap over the cucumbers. Cover the jar loosely. Store any leftover brine in the fridge (it will keep for a week; discard thereafter and make a new batch, if needed).
  • Set aside on a baking sheet to ferment, somewhere nearby, out of direct sunlight, and cool, for 3 to 6 days. During the fermentation period, monitor the brine level and top off with reserved brine, if needed, to cover. You may see scum on top; it’s generally harmless, but consult the appendix if you’re at all concerned.
  • The cucumbers begin a vibrant green — the colors look almost larger than life. As the cukes start to ferment, they turn a drab olive, the result of the acids interacting with chlorophyll. The brine will become cloudy as lactic acid is produced. In 3 to 4 days you’ll have half-sours; in about 6 days you’ll have full-sours. Taste until the pickles are as sour as you’d like them to be.
  • When the pickles are ready, cover with fresh grape leaves, if you have some, screw on the lids, and store in the refrigerator. These will keep, refrigerated, for 1 year.


Excerpted from Fermented Vegetables, © by Kirsten K. Shockey and Christopher Shockey, used with permission from Storey Publishing.
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