What's the secret to those awesome pub-style dill pickle spears?
November 9, 2015 12:26 PM   Subscribe

My favourite thing about ordering a burger at a pub or diner is the dill pickle spear on the side, which seems to be a different style of pickle than the inferior Bicks I get at the store. They're longer, slightly softer, and milder/less acidic, though still definitely dill pickles, not sweet. I would take recommendations for brands or delis in Toronto, but I'm also interested in making my own, so recipes and pointers for this specific style of pickle are also welcome. (Disclaimer: I've never pickled anything ever.)
posted by Beardman to Food & Drink (12 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
You want to make lacto-fermented pickles.

I've done a bunch of lacto-fermentation projects and always had problems with harmless but foul-tasting kahm yeast, which, for me, ruins things. But, I just made a batch of sauerkraut using one of these setups and a mason jar and it turned out great! No problems at all! (The brine I used was 1.5 tablespoons kosher salt to 2 cups of filtered water. It's a keeper.)

Sour pickles are my next project, provided that I can find good pickling cucumbers in a store this time of year.

Regarding your disclaimer -- don't be afraid to try making your own. The friendly bacteria do all the work. All you need to do is put the cucumbers/dill in a jar with some brine and then wait for them to turn sour.
posted by mudpuppie at 12:51 PM on November 9, 2015 [3 favorites]

The pickle that comes most to mind when you describe them are pickles from Ba-Tampte or Claussen.

I have no idea if they sell either of those in canada though
posted by Dr. Twist at 12:57 PM on November 9, 2015

If you want to get into making your own easily without having to worry about the whole canning process, look up recipes for "refrigerator pickles". I find that the fresh(er) pickles I can find in the refrigerated section of the deli part of our supermarket come closer to restaurant pickles than the jarred ones do.
posted by mikepop at 1:09 PM on November 9, 2015 [1 favorite]

(FWIW, I've never lived anyplace where the standard pub/diner pickle spear was lacto-fermented. It is a great way to make delicious pickles, but it is probably not how the pickles you're trying to imitate were made.)
posted by nebulawindphone at 1:22 PM on November 9, 2015 [3 favorites]

Restaurants usually use "kosher" style dills, which is a different process (as discussed in the first answer). There are lots of good recipes as suggested in other answers, and easy to make in small batches at home.

But, if all you want is a quick way to get those in your mouth, you could do worse than looking for "Strub's" (either full-sours or not) in the deli/refrigerated section (usually where the weird pickled herring and eggs are also kept) in most Canadian supermarkets.
posted by clvrmnky at 1:24 PM on November 9, 2015 [1 favorite]

In Canada, seconding that you're looking for "kosher" pickles.
Strub's is my favourite brand, already mentioned as well.
posted by Laura in Canada at 1:34 PM on November 9, 2015 [1 favorite]

It's most probably from a restaurant supply vendor and may come in a giant jar or bucket. If you ask, I'm sure the next pub would be happy to tell you where their pickles come from. Then you can call up the vendor and get your own 50lb bucket of dill spears. :)
posted by amanda at 1:34 PM on November 9, 2015 [1 favorite]

I agree with the Strubs answer - buy refrigerated pickles. Superior, but harder to find, are Mrs. Whytes. The full sour might be a bit much for you but I believe they make plain old kosher dills too.
posted by the uncomplicated soups of my childhood at 2:39 PM on November 9, 2015

If you're shopping at the grocery store, make sure you are buying pickles kept in the refrigerated section, not the pickles that sit at room temp on the shelf.
posted by gnutron at 2:40 PM on November 9, 2015

Refrigerated pickles have quite a bit more texture and don't need as much vinegar as regular jarred pickles because they're not meant to keep as long.
posted by fiercekitten at 5:41 PM on November 9, 2015

When you say "milder" I'm wondering if you're describing a "half sour" pickle. Those are usually on the crunchy side, though.
posted by slateyness at 7:18 PM on November 9, 2015

You definitely want Strubs Full Sour Kosher dill pickles. They are the only dill pickles we eat in our house.
posted by fimbulvetr at 7:28 AM on November 10, 2015

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