Half Sour Pickles

If  I could stand on top of a mountain I would yell “I love pickles!”.  I really do.   They’re pretty, they’re crunchy, they’re full of flavor, they hit the right spot in the afternoon when you need a snack, they’re great on a burger, they’re great at 4AM standing in front of the refrigerator.  Pickles, they’re just really good.

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With the cucumber plants in full producing mode right now we have been picking  (and pickling!) quite a few kirby cucumbers.  We currently have 6 mason jars full of pickles in the refrigerator!  If you are in Brooklyn and are in need of a pickle, I’m your girl!  I have been trying to get the perfect half sour pickles after years  of swooning at all the NYC pickle places.  Finally, I got it just right!  

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A few notes about these  half sour beauties:

-These don’t have vinegar in them.  You see I have a fear of the smell of vinegar, I just get freaked out.  So I have been desperately trying to figure out how to make delicious pickles with seasonings to make up for the lack of vinegar. THIS IS IT!  In this one instead  of using vinegar  we use sea salt water! 
-I would leave these  in your refrigerator  at least 4  days before you bite  into one.    After that, good luck not finishing  the jar in a day or 2.  If you have  control of your fingers going in the pickle jar though, these last for weeks.
-Kirby cucumbers are the best for pickles.
-If you don’t have Kirbies, that’s totally ok, but I recommend if you are using big cucumbers to  cut them up  into spears first (they will fit better into the jar most likely too).
-Please don’t skip on the seasonings.  These pickles soak alongside delicious garlic, fresh dill, peppercorns, coriander seeds, mustard seeds and bay leaves.
-This recipe uses a half gallon mason jar,  but if you only have smaller jars that’s ok.  Just make  sure to separate everything evenly – the salt water, the herbs, garlic, etc when pouring it in the jars.
-If your pickles are soft and not crunchy when done, please check out Ball Pickle Crisp powder.  It works great to keep that fresh crunch!

Half Sour Pickles
  1. 5 kirby cucumbers (or however many you can fit into your jar)
  2. 1/2 teaspoon coriander seeds
  3. 1/2 teaspoon mustard seeds
  4. 1/2 teaspoon black peppercorns
  5. few pieces of fresh dill
  6. 3 bay leaves
  7. 6 cloves garlic (minced)
  8. 1/4 cup sea salt
  9. 6 cups water
  10. additional whole coriander seeds and peppercorns to add on top
  1. Wash your cucumbers.
  2. Dissolve your sea salt in the water.
  3. Grind up all the dry ingredients (coriander, mustard seeds, peppercorns, 2 bay leaves). If you don’t have a mortar/pestle, throw it in a plastic bag and use a rolling pin to crush them.
  4. Put the cucumbers in your jar.
  5. Put the minced garlic in the jar, then ground up spices, then pour the salt water mixture on top. If you have any water left, disregard it.
  6. Add a few pieces of fresh dill on top.
  7. Add in your additional coriander seeds, peppercorns and bay leaf.
  8. Make sure your cucumbers are completely covered in water and seal up the jar.
  9. Put in the refrigerator. Let them sit for at least 4 days before eating.
  10. Enjoy!
  1. This recipe is for a half gallon jar. If you need to use 2 smaller jars instead of a big one, make sure to separate everything evenly – the salt water, the herbs, garlic, etc when pouring it in the jars.
Brooklyn Farm Girl http://brooklynfarmgirl.com/
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Fresh kirby cucumbers just picked from the garden!  

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One of the yummy herbs in this recipe is coriander seeds.  If you have a cilantro plant and you neglect it, it will turn into coriander seeds. Awesome,  right?   I always  do this every year so I get fresh coriander to last until next harvest season. 

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You can  use a mortar and pestle to crush your dry ingredients  or you can be like me and  just use a tool (I don’t know the name of this so let’s  just go with “tool”) to bash  it all together. A rolling pin works great too.  So does a hammer. 

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Put your cucumbers in the jar, then add your garlic.

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Then your crushed dry ingredients.

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Pick a few  pieces of fresh dill. Doesn’t it smell great?

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Then add your salt water  and fresh dill.

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Keep filling your jar with water until your cucumbers are completely covered.  In  the  jar above, a little bit  of the salt water still needs to be added.

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Beautiful pickles in the making.

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Now it’s  the hard  part.. waiting for a few days to eat them!

But when it’s time… it will be worth it!

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If you are making batches as you harvest, and you use similar jars sometimes it gets confusing to keep track of the ones that have been sitting the longest.  To do this I use chalk or a Sharpie and write on the lid.  #1 = eat first, #2 = eat next, #3 = eat next next.. etc.

Enjoy! :)


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  1. Miss Messy

    I’ve never made pickles but i think i need to! Looks like a super recipe and a brilliant snack to have around!

    • Pamela

      I hope you give it a try, it’s one of my favorite snacks!

      • Debbie

        I am been munching on these all week. Thanks Pamela for the great recipe, I am on my second jar. I reused the brine. That’s ok?

        • Pamela

          That’s totally ok Debbie, I do it sometimes too when I quickly finish a jar. :)

  2. Suzanne

    I’ve never had pickles without vinegar, these sound great. I too love pickles, crunchy and spicy they are the best. Your kirby’s look wonderful.

    • Pamela

      Thanks Suzanne! Agreed, I need a good crunch!

  3. I love pickles too!! These sound sooo great!

    • Pamela

      Thanks Ashley! They’re addicting.. I had a few to snack on yesterday! :)

  4. Laurie

    Question about Dill? I had a ton of dill volunteer in the garden this year and because I think it’s pretty I just let it go to seed. For next year’s purposes and making these gorgeous pickles, if I just keep the dill plants shorter and cut off the top before it goes to seed will I get those wonderful dill fronds like you’re showing? Just wondering! Love your web site!

    • Pamela

      Hi Laurie, that should work. I would recommend you pinch off the buds so the plant continues to get bushy and doesn’t stop growing. Good luck!

  5. Eva @ Eva Bakes

    My pickle-loving husband would adore these!

    • Pamela

      They are so addicting, I am planting more cucumbers for the Fall so I can make more batches!

  6. Lisa @ Whisk & Cleaver

    You come up with the best recipes! I have an unreasonable fear of canning, you make it look so easy. I love pickles, too – my favorite is sliced pickles on a salami and swiss sandwich with mustard.

    • Pamela

      Definitely, I love sliced pickles on a sandwich or burger, can’t have it without them!

  7. Mr. & Mrs. P

    We want to make our own pickles!!! Need to try asap!!! Beautiful photos too!!!

    • Pamela

      Good luck! Thanks!

  8. Kelly

    I love the sound of these fresh herb infused pickles. Hubby and I go through a lot of jars of pickles too and I have been meaning to try my hand at pickling so thanks so much for sharing this Pamela. Definitely pinning to try this :)

    • Pamela

      Thanks Kelly, I hope you try them! They are a favorite snack right now, I can’t get enough!

  9. Debra

    I am intrigued by pickles with no vinegar. Thanks for stopping by EEs. I enjoyed reading yours.

    • Pamela

      Thanks Debra!

  10. Amy @ Elephant Eats

    I LOVE pickles. My fave are garlicky, vinegary, sour dill pickes, but these half-sours look like a nice change of pace. I can eat like 2 or 3 pickles in one sitting. I don’t even want to think about how many I’ll eat when I’m pregnant. Anyway, these look excellent! I still haven’t tried my hand at canning. It really scares me.

    • Pamela

      I hear you Amy, I can eat a dangerous amount of pickles in one sitting too!

  11. Pam (Sidewalk Shoes)

    I adore pickles too! I had no idea you could pickle without vinegar!

    • Pamela

      I had to find a way around that vinegar.. :) Thanks for stopping by Pam!

  12. Julie @ Table for Two

    Gorgeous pickles!!

    • Pamela

      Thanks Julie!

  13. Jamie G

    I’ve never made pickles before. My mom is the pickle queen making no less than half a dozen gallons, a dozen or more of each quarts and pints. So many pickles! I am going to share this recipe with her since hers are all vinegar based (I believe).

    • Pamela

      Your mama is the pickle queen! If you know of any of her speciality recipes, feel free to share! :)

  14. Katie

    I am SO excited to try this! I’ve tried to make half-sours, because a friend of mine just raves about them. The recipe I followed wasn’t this easy and they turned out…bad. Like, throw in the garbage bad and that is sacrilege, I know, as a fellow pickle FIEND. (I thought I was the only one who would raid the fridge of pickles at 4 am…)

    Nerdy note – real pickles don’t use vinegar. And vegetables that are soaked in salty brine and not vinegar are fermented, which makes a vinegar like liquid. So, when people use vinegar, they are really making quick pickles, and skipping the best part! So, not only are half-sours better, but they also have all kinds of good-for-you bacteria. Win-win!

    • Pamela

      Let me know if you try these Katie, I hope you enjoy them! They are my all day snack, I can’t get enough of them right now. I ate more than 2 today (number will stay a secret to hide the guilty). :)

      • Katie

        They are in my fridge right now! I used a little of a pickling spice mixture I got at the coop and added in garlic (no fresh dill….sigh) and the water/salt ratio you wrote.

        Judging by how much salt is in these, I know why my last batch was so bad. Not nearly enough salt and the pickles went bad. Real bad.

        • Pamela

          Let me know when you crack a jar open!

  15. Anne ~ Uni Homemaker

    This sounds delish! I love pickling at home. I’m not a fan of pickles. Actually, bad pickles but I do l0ve it when it’s done at home or served at restaurants. Love the combination of ingredients here Pamela. YUM!

    • Pamela

      Thanks Anne, it’s lots of fun and easy to make too!

  16. Irina @ wandercrush

    Consider this me standing on a blogosphere mountain and yelling, “I love pickles too!” Homemade is the best, by far!
    So happy to have found your lovely blog.

    • Pamela

      Consider us 2 people who are on a mountain yelling about pickles, I think we found friendship. :)

  17. Gloria @ Simply Gloria

    So funny, I am the same way with vinegar! I’m loving how you did all this…yum! Love pickles so much that I find myself snacking on them all during the day. Your pics are so amazing, too!

    • Pamela

      Thanks Gloria! Glad I found another person who feels that way about vinegar!

  18. Meghan @ The Tasty Fork

    I LOVE this blog, Pamela!! Your photos are so pretty. I bought a jar of pickles the other day, thinking I need to learn how to make my own! I pinned your post so I can use it as a reference.

    • Pamela

      Aww thanks Meghan! Good luck making your own pickles.. and enjoy snacking on them!

  19. Hannah

    Yum, these look so good. I have never done coriander seeds in them before but I grew up with my mum making these delish pickles all summer long. I have had them on my mind for a few days – so your post with a new recipe to try is serendipitous!

    • Pamela

      I hope you give them a try Hannah. The coriander seeds really enhance the sea salt water, I love them (great for soup too!).

  20. gotasté

    I’ve always wanted to learn making these. Thank you for sharing! :)

  21. Less

    That tool is an adjustable wrench, often referred to as a “nut rounder” because it often slips on the nuts you’re trying to remove and rounding over the corners of the nut. :)

    • Pamela

      It can be called that too. :P

  22. Jay

    How long can these pickles sit once canned? After the four days do they have to be eaten immediately? Have you done a water bath for them to preserve them, if so has that changed the taste or texture? Thanks again for the recipe!!

    • Pamela

      Hey Jay, I have many batches in my fridge that have been in there for about 4 weeks, and if I add some Pickle Crisp granules before I close the jar it really does help keeping that crunch weeks on in.
      If you keep the cucumbers whole they stay fresh for many weeks. If you cut them into spears, I would give them less time before turning soft. After 4 days, no they don’t have to be eaten right away. You can leave them sit much longer if you’d like. Enjoy!

    • Debby

      Mine are going on 5 and are still yummy and crisp.

  23. Consuelo @ Honey & Figs

    I wish I could make this, but the cucumbers we grow are actually bigger than my head, so there’s no way I can’t fit them in a jar :( ((
    (((This recipe looks wonderful though)))

    • Pamela

      Those are some big cucumbers! You could always cut them up into bite size pieces if you’d like! Thanks for stopping by! :)

  24. Karl

    I’ve been looking for a recipe close to the half sour pickles that they have at Ted’s Montana Grill and what Katie said, “The recipe(s) I followed weren’t this easy and they turned out…bad.” These turned out very close – just what I’d been looking for! Thanks for posting!

    LOL! Also, what Les said, the mystery tool is a “nut rounder.” :)

    • Pamela

      So glad you liked them Karl! They are one of my favorite afternoon snacks!

      Also thanks for letting me know the official term, haha. ;)

  25. wendy

    I have never made pickles before but have a ton of kirbys this year and want to try this recipe… do you need to buy mason jars and seal in boiling water? or do you just lid and put in the fridge? My mom made a batch of dill pickles from my kirbys but they are from the premade pickling spice and are super sour… im dying for a great half sour super cold cruncy pickle!!!

    • Pamela

      Hi Wendy, you can totally do this without canning. Just follow the steps and then put into your fridge directly. They will last a few weeks, if not slightly longer! Enjoy!

  26. Fred in Houston

    Oh my God!!! This recipe is absolutely amazing!! My daughter and I made a batch and they are fantastic!!! Thanks for the great recipe – we’ll be making lots more of these! And to return the favor, email me if you’d like a copy of my contest-winning chili; glad to share.

    • Pamela

      Thanks Fred! I’m so happy to hear these pickles worked out for you. I’m about to make a few more batches today! My email is in the contact info above, feel free to send over that chili recipe!

  27. Debby

    I became obsessed with pickles this year
    .. chow chow, Korean Radishes, sweet and Spicy, curried veg, Kimchi, sauerkraut. .. all came out amazing and the larder is stuffed with my obsession. But half sours? Let’s just say after 6 batches of varying degrees of salty and mushy I was ready to give up. Then I saw this recipe and thought if a New Yorker can’t make a good half sour then I really am going to quit. Wow! Amazing. Right crunchy snap. Perfect proportions of salt and tang. I did them in a big batch in a gallon food prep bin weighed down with plates and packed them pretty solidly. After a few days they were ready so I transferred them to big half gallon jars and put then in the fridge. Can’t Stop eating them!

    • Pamela

      Hey Debby, I’m so glad you stopped by to let me know! Nothing makes me more happy than knowing someone else is enjoying some half sour pickles! We are harvesting some more cucumbers today from the garden so I’m sure to be making a few more batches myself! I definitely snack away on them all day… and they are the absolute best on sandwiches! Have a great weekend!

  28. byeGeorge

    Ohh boy…I’m a pickle lover but only want the snap fresh product…how long should/can these be kept in the fridge before bacteria or other problems may arise…thx…byeGeorge,,,(~.-)

    Thx for putting this together…

    • Pamela

      I’ve kept them for over a month and they’ve stayed crunchy and fresh. They don’t last that long in my house as I want to eat them all! ;)

  29. Shaun

    I’m getting ready to try making a couple of batches including one batch using an alder smoked salt. One question in advance about the water: do you use filtered water to remove the chlorine, let it stand to dissipate, etc.

    I’m already looking forward to the end of next week so I can crack open a jar!

    • Pamela

      I just use regular tap water.

  30. Kit

    Hi Pamela! I’m a hot mess in the kitchen, and frequently botch things as simple as hard-boiled eggs… but your recipe is quick, easy, and phenomenally DELICIOUS. Really, really good. Just made my second batch! Can’t thank you enough.

    • Pamela

      So happy to hear you’re enjoying these Kit! Keep on pickling! :)

  31. Marisa

    Hi there,
    Have you ever tried adding a little celery or celery seed to this recipe?
    Do you think that would enhance it?
    Thank you!

  32. Marc


    I have tried two batches of pickles so far using your recipe.
    I have run into two issues and wanted your thoughts on them.

    After my first batch I found I had to half the amount of Sea Salt or the pickles came out so salty you can’t eat them.

    The second batch came out almost perfect except the seasonings did not penetrate the cucumbers very well and the batch ended up more Cuke than Pickle. I let this batch sit in the fridge for over two weeks. They were still crispy but the flavor just did not go all the way through.

    Any ideas?


    • Pamela

      Hi Marc,
      I would recommend lowering the amount of salt. I have found that with some people based on the amount of water they use, the size jar, etc, the salt can really vary in taste if the recipe isn’t followed exactly per water to salt. What size jar are you using and how much water?
      Per the seasoning, go a little stronger on them, especially the bay leaves. I would say these pickles are more about the half sour, tartness, than the seasonings though.
      Good luck.

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