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Sour Pickles


When I first moved to Eretz Yisrael, I was privileged to be neighbors with the Birnbaums. We both went through the pangs of aliyah together, and of course used to borrow things from each other all the time. Often when I would knock on their door, Mr. Birnbaum would be holding something on a fork, and would say “Bryna make a ha’adamah” on this! My recipe file really expanded then because everything I tasted was so good. These sour pickles were and still are my all time favorite. My family’s too!


Prepare Pickles

1. Take a very large jar with a tight fitting lid.
2. Put half the dill, garlic, and hot peppers on the bottom of the jar.
3. Tightly pack the cucumbers into the jar, standing up, sardine-close to each other.
4. When you finish the bottom layer, try to stuff in as many as you can on top of these (some will end up being on the diagonal) – the key is the closer and compactly packed the better.
5. Fill a measuring cup with three cups of warm water.
6. For each cup of water, add one tablespoon coarse (kosher) salt and mix (it may not all dissolve).
7. Pour this on top of the pickles (remember to leave space for the rest of the garlic and dill and for some vinegar).
8. If you see that you have a lot of room still at the top, add more water/salt.
9. Place the rest of the garlic and dill on top of the pickles, and pour in some vinegar about one to one and a half inches (two and a half to three and a half centimeters) from the top of the jar.
10. Make sure the jar is filled to the top with liquid.
11. Close securely and place the jar onto a foil pan, or on top of a large plastic plate, on your porch, in the sun.
12. Depending on how strong the sun is, your pickles should be ready in a few days, generally within three to five days (you will see them changing colors).
13. Once they are ready, they have to be refrigerated (you can transfer the pickles to a smaller jar/jars).


Do not open the jar before the pickles are ready, although you might be tempted to! You can, however, turn the jar over and back to assure even distribution of spices.



Varying quantities of garlic, dill, and hot peppers was given depending on how hot/sour/spicy you like your pickles. Adjust accordingly. Also, as your pickles sour, the liquid in the jar bubbles and will most likely overflow from time to time (hence the pan/plate underneath). This is normal. I pour water on the jar every now and then to prevent bugs from coming.


Photography: Daniel Lailah

Styling: Michal Leibowitz