HALF SOUR PICKLES: perfect w/your corned beef. PDF Print E-mail
Written by OHmommy   
Wednesday, 17 March 2010 00:00

We've mastered the art of making pierogis.  We've triumphed over a pot of pickle soup.  We've celebrated the yumminess of bigos.  We've shared with the world a secret family stuffed cabbage recipe.


We are busy cooking with a toddler and trying to make Polish cuisine posh, one blog post at a time.  Let's back up a little and start with a staple in any Polish kitchen.  The pickle. Perfect with your St. Patty's day corned beef, yo.



Specifically my mother's half-sour pickle recipe that is really too easy and so fool-proof you will never buy a jar of pickles again.  Promise.  A half-sour pickle is just that... half sour.  Incredibly crunchy and lightly seasoned, it's a glorified cucumber that you will fall in love with. I, for one, can't wait for my left-over-homemade-corned-beef in the form of a sandwich with homemade half-sour pickle this weekend. On store bought bread (haven't mastered breads, yet).  Yummo!


The ingredients:


(Measurements depend on the size of your jar/container. You can use a standard jar and make this a mini recipe or make a huge batch like me.  I used a 5L clay pot handmade in Poland.)

Handful of very very very hard cucumbers.  (1/2 a bag full for 5L)

Fresh dill. (2 bunches for 5L)

A bunch of salt. (4 tablespoons for 5L)

Garlic cloves. (4 garlic cloves for 5L)

Water.  (1/2 a pitcher full for 5L)


1.  Wash


My mother swears that this is the most important step of the recipe.  You have to wash the cucumber making sure all the sliminess is gone.  This is a good time to weed out all the soft cucumbers and only save the hard ones.  Heh.  I really want my daughters to have an online cooking book of Polish foods when they've left my house, so PG it is.


2.  Bed of Dill


Take a handful of dill, stems and all, and line the bottom of your container with a healthy dose of weeds.


3.  Place cucumbers


On top of the bed of dill, you should place one row of cucumbers.  Make sure they are tightly fitted, next to each other - like the planks of a hardwood floor.


4.  Garlic


Drop one garlic clove on top of the cucumbers.


5.  Layer


Continue layering (like lasagna).  Dill.  Cucumbers.  One garlic clove.  Dill.  Cucumbers.  One garlic glove.  Until you reach the top of your container - where you smother with the left over dill.


6.  Salt the water


Keep adding salt to the water until it's really salty.  Mix until completely diluted.  I used half that pitcher and half a rock's glass full of salt.  The water should be cloudy.  Dilute.

7.  Fill pickle container w/salt water


Keep filling the container with salt water until the water level reaches the top of your container.


Add a pinch of salt for good luck.



Admire your work.  For you just made your own pickles and can boast about them at your next lavish shindig.  Nothing starts a conversation like, "I've jarred my own half-sour pickles, yo."  People will be drawn to you and your remarkable talents.  Wait.  That's just me.  Trying to prove my domestic abilities.  Heh.  Carry on...



8.  Wait


Half-sour pickles are ready once they have been in an air-tight container for three days.  The longer they stay - the more sour they taste.  The waiting is the hardest part.  And the most important part.  They should remain closed until the third day.


If you start pickling today, right this minute, you will have some amazing pickles this weekend to accompany your corned beef.  It really is that easy and when people taste your homemade half-sour jarred pickles they will wonder how you did it.  Just don't tell them that it's really this easy.  Let's just keep it a secret between you and me.  Okay?

Last Updated on Wednesday, 17 March 2010 08:21


# Nap Warden 2010-03-16 22:38
I will try this!
# Flea 2010-03-16 22:41
Okay, here's the problem. There's never any leftover corned beef.

Those pickles look scrumptious, yo. Thank you!
# Pauline 2010-03-16 22:43
I purchased $22 worth of corned beef at a local organic market to cook tomorrow and I hope there's left overs. There is no way we can eat it all!
# Flea 2010-03-16 23:00
Oh man! I'm coming to your house.

Bread. I swore off making bread till someone gave me a bread maker. It's easier than your pickles!
# Keith Wright 2013-06-05 16:05
Bread maker? You have your two hands. Yeast, salt, flour water. Mix, knead, rest/rise, knead, form, rise, bake. Just do it!
# pamela 2010-03-16 23:02
Oh! I am soo going to try to make this! And you have to give me the link to buy the shirt your daughter is wearing! Tooooo cute!
# Kasia 2010-03-16 23:04
OMG, so easy and exciting! I may try soon too. LOVE fifi's shirt.
# Alyssa 2010-03-16 23:09
my favorite part is your toddlers "My mom is blogging this." Tshirt. TOO CUTE!
# kathyo 2010-03-16 23:56
Please Correct me if I am wrong but I thought you needed young pickles for this? Unless that is for the full sour pickles not half-sour ones...looks yummy.. me love pickles
# Pauline 2010-03-17 00:02
Yes. Young pickles.
# Cheryl 2010-03-17 00:28
Those pickles look sooo good! I am totally making this. I am going to shock everyone! Now I just need to find a good container to use!
# Heather 2010-03-17 08:44
That is the best shirt your little girl is wearing! And so true! :)
# linda 2010-03-17 08:45
I really want to try this recipe! And I have found the easiest bread recipe. No Knead bread from the NY Times. Crusty and completely delicious!! You must try it!
# Rima 2010-03-17 08:54
OK, this looks delish! But since I'm twelve, I'm still snickering over the part where you have to stroke the pickle.
# Stephanie 2010-03-17 09:48
Love Fifi's shirt!

"They should remain closed until the third day" makes me think of Easter. You could make 'em on Good Friday and open them up on Easter - and I bet they'd be fabulous with a good Polish ham!

On a more practical note, where do you find little cucumbers and big bunches of fresh dill in Cleveland in March?
# Pauline 2010-03-17 11:15
I went to both the West Side Market and Miles Farmers Market - and both places had plenty of both.

Any farmers market will do. I had not problem finding the ingredients.
# Kalle 2010-03-17 10:15
What an awesome recipe. I'm going to give it a try (not today) but next week.

I love Fifi's shirt. Is it ever adorable! Happy St. Patty's day.
# Rebecca @ Toothwhale 2010-03-17 10:41
Awesome tutorial! You're so funny, Pauline. I'm inspired to try. I need to find the right container.
# Chrissy 2010-03-17 12:13
I agree with the other posters...the shirt is the BEST part of this! I laughed out loud when I read that. I have seen those before...but haven't bought one yet (then i would have to come out of the closet in some playgroups about my blogging!)
# Live to Cook at Home 2010-03-17 12:47
I love to make refrigerator pickles, which are also very easy. These look good too!

You should definitely give bread a try. It's a lot easier than I thought it would be. Do you have a kitchen aid mixer? It does most of the work for you. Check out my blog post here on a challenge from Michael Ruhlman: livetocookathome.com/.../...

If you have an iPhone, I also recommend picking up the app called Ratio, by Michael Ruhlman. There is a super easy bread recipe on it.
# Kristin K 2010-03-17 13:15
Mmmmmm...pickles. I love them so so much. Now, is that an air-tight container you're using?
# Kristin K 2010-03-17 13:17
OH MY. Don't mind me. I'm in a fog. Now I see "air-tight container." haha
# clarkinfestedwaters 2010-03-17 14:50
I just love homemade pickles, although I have never attempted it myself. Perhaps after reading this post, I will try.

And, oh my Gawd, little Fifi's shirt...hysterical!
# DE Heather 2010-03-17 15:43
I will trade you several loaves of fresh baked bread that I hand kneaded myself for some half sour pickles....deal? Or you can just lend me Fifi for the day so she can help me make them, then I can teach her to make the bread and you will be all set!
# Sue Ann 2010-03-17 16:23
# Sue Ann 2010-03-17 16:24
^ opps, that was suppose to say I LOVE that pot! and those pickles look yummy too!
# Jill 2010-03-17 19:15
3 days is such a long wait. I am making a special trip to the store tonight to buy the ingredients so I can have pickles this weekend!
# JulieBouf 2010-03-17 20:28
Fifi's shirt is great! Now all she needs is an apron that says "Cooking with a toddler".

I love how easy this sounds and thank you for all the measurement ;) I am absolutely trying this recipe soon!
# Carabee 2010-03-17 23:22
I LOVE pickles but it never even once occured to me to make my own. This looks so easy, though, I might just give it a try!

Love the tshirt!
# dysfunctional mom 2010-03-18 03:06
LOVE her shirt! This sounds so good.
# Kim 2010-03-18 09:12
Pickles look wonderful...but your daughter is ADORABLE!
# krissy beaubien 2010-03-18 10:27
you can make sweet pickles as well. By a jar of dill pickles. Drain all the liquid (juice) out and then add one cup of sugar. Turn the container upside down. By the next day....the pickle jar will be full of juice again and your pickles will be sweet pickles. Better then anything you have ever tasted store bought. That easy. Yummo.
# krissy beaubien 2010-03-18 10:28
I forgot....you have to keep rotating the jar about every 3hrs.
# Mommy Fabulous 2010-03-18 11:53
I love that shirt! LOL!
# vodka logic 2010-03-18 12:07
I love your daughters tee shirt.. she is adorable
# Jessica B. 2010-03-18 15:26
The site is out of your pot! Which I LOVE and MUST MUST HAVE! Do you think this one is similar enough? or wait....
# Laura 2010-03-19 21:15
Very cute - the pot looks like it is special - is there actually one pot inside the other?
# fuckyeahmotherhood 2010-03-19 22:56
all this and you cook, too? someone cheated and got into the talent line twice!

love your blog.
# Maura 2010-03-20 14:08
I'm so not making pickles, sorry, but I had to comment to say how much your daughter's shirt cracked me up! The pictures are every bit as great as the recipes you share. :-)
# Jayme 2010-03-23 15:33
Yum! That sounds great! Where did you get that adorable shirt for Fifi? My Peanut needs one of those!
# Tiaras & Tantrums 2010-03-27 01:01
oh dear - you just brought tears to my eyes - I used to make these with my grandmother - with fresh little cucs from her garden. My mouth actually puckered a bit with my teary eyes thinking of her!
# Anonymouse 2010-06-26 15:03
You misused the word dilute, it should be saturate instead.
# Dianna 2010-07-07 22:38
So you don't need any vinegar for this recipe? For the three days, you do not put these into the fridge, correct?
# Dianna 2010-07-10 22:30
Ok, it's me again!! I forgot to ask you what kind of salt you use...is it kosher or pickling salt? I forgot the dill today but otherwise am ready to go!! My brother can't wait either...he claims he hasn't had a good pickle for years (don't tell my mom--she's been makin' em!) but I think what he's missing is the half sour pickle!!
# Al_Pal 2010-12-03 06:09
I also am wondering about the "needs no refrigeration" part...you just leave them on the counter?
...and yeah, the word "saturated" would be better than "dilute", just above #7.

# Sheila 2011-08-12 04:13
Not only the best half-sour pickle recipe out there, but also the cutest. LOL! :P
# Sheila 2011-08-12 04:14
Not only is this a great recipe, your assistant is adorable! Thanks!
# erika 2011-11-17 21:39
i LOVE this recipe! I have made half sours for years, and they are just by far the BEST pickle out there! Mom gave me the recipe a few years ago and each time I've made them, they are a hit. Thanks for sharing!
# emily 2011-12-21 20:12
do you let them sit for three days out on the counter, or in the fridge? And is there any worry about them rotting while you do this, something to look out for or any signs?
# erika 2011-12-29 16:52
you leave them out on the counter until they are done.....and then put them into the fridge. You want to make sure the cukes stay under the water line.....you may have to skim some foam off the top, but that's just the probiotics doing their thing.
# Pam Muller 2012-01-07 09:45
How long will the pickles last in the frig?
# Kasia 2013-04-05 12:19
Do you use cucumbers in brine or regular pickles?
# Keith Wright 2013-06-08 03:23
Since pitcher is a bit ambiguous, may I suggest 1/2 gallon water to 6 T pickling salt (salt without any additives). This will give you the proper brine strength to prevent spoilage and give the proper flavor,

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Pauline Karwowski.

Is a self proclaimed globe trotting, minivan driving, SAHM stiletto ho.

Happily married mother to 3 Cleveland natives: Jay the son, Lola the daughter, and Fifi the banshee.

Now in Chicago, IL.

The content on this blog is the opinion of the blogger.


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