Key Ingredient

Eleanor Nakama-Mitsunaga

Kosher dills


Kosher pickles somehow seem tastier than ordinary dills. When I buy pickles, I always gravitate to those labeled kosher. But are kosher pickles really kosher?

The basics: Pickles are essentially a special type of cucumber or other vegetables cured in a brine made of salt, vinegar and pickling spices. According to the national trade organization Pickle Packers International, kosher-style dills in a commercial sense refer to pickles that have garlic flavoring in the brine.

But some brands go as far as making sure a kosher-labeled pickle is really kosher. These brands carry a certification mark, such as a U in a circle for the Union of OrthodoxJewish Congregations.

To be given kosher certification, the pickles must be made in accordance with Jewish dietary laws which prohibit the use of animal fat during production. Some emulsifiers used in pickling brine are derived from animal fat and thus cannot be used in making a truly kosher pickle.

Strict quality-control guidelines and plant inspections by rabbis ensure a product is kosher. Only then can a company use the kosher symbol on its labeling.

Selecting: Many brands of pickles are labeled kosher or kosher-style. Look for the kosher symbol if you want a truly kosher pickle.

Also, with any pickle, many agree that the refrigerated varieties are crunchier.

Storing: Although an unopened bottle of pickles can last many months on the shelf, it is always better to refrigerate. Pickles sold refrigerated should never be stored on the shelf. Refrigerated pickles should last several months.

Use: Kosher pickles are best eaten right out of the jar. They make a great accompaniment to most sandwiches and burgers or simply as a snack. And don't throw out the pickle juice. Hundreds of recipes can be enhanced by pickle juice, such as potato salad, pork marinade, salad dressings, barbecue sauces and even Bloody Marys.

Where to buy: Kosher pickles are available at all supermarkets priced at $3 to $5 a bottle, depending on size.

Eleanor Nakama-Mitsunaga is
a free-lance food writer. Contact her
online through


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