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dan koshansky’s refrigerator dill pickles

NEARLY 30 YEARS AGO ALMOST TO THE DAY, I ate pickles for breakfast with lovely Dan Koshansky, a retired railroad conductor and an organic gardener in suburban Long Island. I was garden editor at “Newsday” newspaper then, and the beat included many a recipe-tasting at harvest time. It’s how I learned to garden, and to cook from the garden: from people like Dan. I want to share his recipe for how to make dill pickles, refrigerator style, with you. Enjoy.

making dan koshansky’s pickles

THESE PICKLES were a hand-me-down recipe from Dan’s mother. And they couldn’t be simpler. Those are from a batch I made many years ago (photo by Kit Latham).

the recipe:

Wash jars: Run gallon or half-gallon canning jars through the dishwasher or otherwise wash thoroughly.

Prepare your brine: To each quart of water that has been boiled and brought to room temperature, add ¾ cup of distilled white vinegar and 4 Tablespoons Kosher salt (Dan would say “heaping tablespoons”). See the link in the box at the bottom of this story on brands of salt and their relative saltiness. Estimate how many quarts to make depending on how many jars you will pack with pickles. Note: Do not use reactive pots (like aluminum) for making brine. Stick with stainless and glass equipment for pickling tasks.

Wash and pack small cukes (or green tomatoes or peppers) into clean glass jars, into which fresh dill has been layered on the bottom first.

Add 1 Tablespoon of pickling spice (a link on what’s in pickling spice is in the box down below, too) and lots of chopped garlic. Trust me, I can still recall the garlic-for-breakfast experience. Up to you how much. And frankly I never chop it, as you can see in the photo. Creative license!

Add a dash of crushed red pepper flakes, or 1-2 small hot red peppers slit open lengthwise, plus more fresh dill. I love having the flowerheads from a variety like ‘Mammoth,’ instead of just the foliage of ‘Fernleaf’ for this task, but you’ll want plenty of both.

Cover with plastic wrap and let stand out until soured, perhaps a couple of days, then refrigerate with lids on.

I think of these unprocessed pickles as a seasonal treat, so I make enough for a few months only. If you want to store pickles all year, use a recipe that calls for water-bath processing (meaning vacuum-sealed lids). It’s not that refrigerator pickles go bad, but they lose that special quality. It’s the crispy freshness that makes Dan Koshansky’s Refrigerator Pickles so fantastic, a real rite of the harvest season, so enjoy them summer-into-fall and then (as gardeners know how to by necessity) start looking forward to next year.

added notes about pickling

  1. Alleen Cater says:

    After reading all the recipes, I thought to check my grandmother’s recipe for watermelon rind pickle, which I don’t think I’ve ever made, though I was quite fond of it. In doing so I found a very old clipping from a Maury County, TN newspaper: two recipes for cucumber pickle and one for corn relish all included brown sugar and horseradish, and one included olive oil. I suppose brown sugar was less expensive in the old days.

    Heresy, no doubt, but here goes: is it possible to substitute Stevia for at least some portion of the sugar?

  2. Alfred Dubiel says:

    Hi Margaret, I enjoy your blog! Dan’s pickles remind me of when I was a youngster. (i’m 66 now) My family was from Poland and mom always had a 2 Lb. crock full of dill’s in the fridge. Very much like Dan’s in taste. Yum! Thanks for the taste and the memory. Al

  3. Sarah Oudman says:

    I’ve made these pickles for two seasons. We love them. I just checked on my latest jar. A few small pickles at the top were out of the brine and are moldy. Do I need to throw out the entire jar?

  4. Cindy says:

    These pickles are fantastic! My family loves them and asks for me to make them. I don’t chop the garlic, either.

    As for the mold, better safe than sorry. I had it happen once and threw them out. Make sure the cukes are fully submerged in the brine. If they break the surface, they are likely to grow mold. Use a weight if you have to, or just wedge those cukes tightly in the jar and make sure they have an inch of brine over them. I put plastic wrap right onto the surface of the brine and make sure there are no air bubbles.

  5. Dianne says:

    Usually when I ferment pickles I leave them on the counter for at least a week. I will have to try these. I’ll bet they are more crunchy. Thanks for the recipe. I just came in from the garden with lots of cucumbers. My favorite cucumber for fresh eating and pickling is ‘Suyo.’ Very prolific and produce for a long time.

  6. Joan Hayes says:

    Can you pickle lemon cucumbers? I have one plant in my raised bed and I am getting 3 or 4 each day, i love them, but can’t keep up with them.

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