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Half-Sour Dill Pickles

Scott Phillips

Yield: Yields 6 to 8 pickles

These crisp, tangy, low-salt pickles, known as “half-sours” in deli speak, are made with a roughly 3.5% salt solution, which is the salinity of seawater.

To learn more about the pickling process, including what can go wrong during home pickling, read The Science of Pickles.


  • 3/4 oz. pickling salt (1 Tbs. plus 1 tsp.), kosher salt (2 Tbs. Diamond Crystal, 1 Tbs. plus 2 tsp. Morton), or unrefined sea salt
  • 1 lb. firm pickling cucumbers, such as Kirby (6 to 8)
  • 4 sprigs fresh dill
  • 3 large cloves garlic, halved
  • 1/2 tsp. cracked black peppercorns
  • Pinch crushed red pepper flakes (optional)

Nutritional Information

  • Calories (kcal) : 10
  • Fat Calories (kcal): 0
  • Fat (g): 0
  • Saturated Fat (g): 0
  • Polyunsaturated Fat (g): 0
  • Monounsaturated Fat (g): 0
  • Cholesterol (mg): 0
  • Sodium (mg): 105
  • Carbohydrates (g): 2
  • Fiber (g): 0
  • Protein (g): 0


  • In a 2-cup measuring cup, dissolve the salt in 1 cup of hot tap water. When dissolved, add 1 cup cold tap water.
  • Trim the small round scab from the blossom end of each cucumber. Tightly pack the cucumbers vertically in a quart jar. Fit the dill sprigs and garlic around the cucumbers. Sprinkle the black pepper and crushed red pepper, if using, on top.
  • Add enough of the salt water to the jar to completely cover the contents, leaving about an inch of airspace at the top of the jar. If you have any brine left, save it. Cover the jar with cheesecloth or a kitchen towel secured with a rubber band, or partially screw on the lid.
  • Put the jar in a cool room (about 65°F) away from direct sunlight, and let the pickles ferment for 4 days. During this time, bubbles of carbon dioxide gas will become visible inside the jar. Check the pickles daily to make sure they are submerged, and if necessary, top them off with the reserved brine. If they begin to float, weigh them down with a small heavy object, like a stone wrapped in plastic or a small glass jar filled with water. It’s OK if the liquid clouds slightly. If it becomes dark or extremely cloudy, mold or fungus is growing in the jar, and the pickles should be discarded.
  • After 4 days, taste a pickle. It should be crunchy, lightly sour, and salty, with an aroma of garlic and dill. If you prefer a more sour flavor, let the pickles ferment up to 3 days more, tasting daily. When you’re happy with the flavor, refrigerate the pickle jar. The pickles will remain half-sours for up to 2 weeks. Within a few weeks, they will have progressed to fully fermented pickles and will keep for years in the refrigerator.


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Reviews (1 review)

  • rreishman | 07/12/2016

    I was doubtful that something so simple and easy could be very good.They are fantastic! I used smaller pickles that Kroger packages as they are all close to the same size and fit the jar perfectly to leave the airspace with the pickles covered and contained by the jar neck for the first 4 days.5 packages are perfect for 3 large mason jars.

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