The Jew And The Carrot

In a Pickle: Giving a Full Sour Its Due

By Louis Finkelman

  • Print
  • Share Share
thinkstock

Consumer Reports recently recruited a team of five expert tasters to sample 10 different brands of pickles. After three days of pickle chomping, the taste testers reached a conclusion: Only the Whole Foods house brand, 365 Everyday Value, earned the ranking of “excellent.” Trader Joe’s pickles came in second. Almost all of the other brands, including Vlasic, B & G, Claussen and Boar’s Head kosher dill spears, merited the rank of “very good.” One poor entry, the Ba-Tampte Kosher Dill Deli Spears pickle earned the sad rank of “good,” the lowest rank of the bunch.

How did Consumer Reports go so wrong?

A look at the report makes clear that the experts were not looking for the kind of pickle that the man in the appetizing store fished out of a wooden barrel for me when I was a child.

They did not seek a true sour pickle, or even its less mature relative, the half-sour. Taste testers on the investigative team at Consumer Reports stated that they were looking for pickles with “crispy skins,” and “crunchy insides.” They note without comment which pickles have “bright colors,” as if this does not disqualify a pickle from consideration and might even qualify as a virtue.

In short, the team of taste testers was looking for vinegar-cured pickles. The distinctive taste of the salt-cured pickle, the traditional kosher pickle, its sour flavor generated by natural fermentation, meant nothing to them. They treated the true kosher pickle, as a failed attempt at a vinegar-cured pickle.

I feel wounded. To rub salt into my wound, the magazine provides “helpful” definitions. “Dill pickles sometimes may mean that the pickles might have dill weed added to their brine. Other time it just refers to large size.” According to that definition, a dill pickle does not need any dill at all. Calling pickles “kosher,” according to the post, “doesn’t necessarily mean that the pickles were prepared under a rabbi’s supervision, just that garlic was added to the brine.”

The people at the Ba-Tampte company of Brooklyn know what they are doing. When Meyer Silberstein founded the company in 1955, he had learned how to pickle cucumbers from his father and grandfather, who made pickles on the Lower East Side. Today, Silberstein’s sons and grandsons run the company.

The sour pickle from Ba-Tampte or a barrel on the Lower East Side does not wish she was vinegar-cured, crisp, or brightly colored, with a crunchy inside. She wants to be herself, naturally fermented, grayish-green, with a yielding texture — but I do not need to describe a sour pickle to readers of the Forward.

I think I’ll console myself with a real sour pickle.

Read about Jewish pickles from around the world here.


Permalink | | Share | Email | Print | Filed under: Half Sours, Full Sours, Ba-Tampte, Kosher Pickles

The Jewish Daily Forward welcomes reader comments in order to promote thoughtful discussion on issues of importance to the Jewish community. In the interest of maintaining a civil forum, The Jewish Daily Forwardrequires that all commenters be appropriately respectful toward our writers, other commenters and the subjects of the articles. Vigorous debate and reasoned critique are welcome; name-calling and personal invective are not. While we generally do not seek to edit or actively moderate comments, our spam filter prevents most links and certain key words from being posted and The Jewish Daily Forward reserves the right to remove comments for any reason.




Find us on Facebook!
  • "Orwell would side with Israel for building a flourishing democracy, rather than Hamas, which imposed a floundering dictatorship. He would applaud the IDF, which warns civilians before bombing them in a justified war, not Hamas terrorists who cower behind their own civilians, target neighboring civilians, and planned to swarm civilian settlements on the Jewish New Year." Read Gil Troy's response to Daniel May's opinion piece:
  • "My dear Penelope, when you accuse Israel of committing 'genocide,' do you actually know what you are talking about?"
  • What's for #Shabbat dinner? Try Molly Yeh's coconut quinoa with dates and nuts. Recipe here:
  • Can animals suffer from PTSD?
  • Is anti-Zionism the new anti-Semitism?
  • "I thought I was the only Jew on a Harley Davidson, but I was wrong." — Gil Paul, member of the Hillel's Angels. http://jd.fo/g4cjH
  • “This is a dangerous region, even for people who don’t live there and say, merely express the mildest of concern about the humanitarian tragedy of civilians who have nothing to do with the warring factions, only to catch a rash of *** (bleeped) from everyone who went to your bar mitzvah! Statute of limitations! Look, a $50 savings bond does not buy you a lifetime of criticism.”
  • That sound you hear? That's your childhood going up in smoke.
  • "My husband has been offered a terrific new job in a decent-sized Midwestern city. This is mostly great, except for the fact that we will have to leave our beloved NYC, where one can feel Jewish without trying very hard. He is half-Jewish and was raised with a fair amount of Judaism and respect for our tradition though ultimately he doesn’t feel Jewish in that Larry David sort of way like I do. So, he thinks I am nuts for hesitating to move to this new essentially Jew-less city. Oh, did I mention I am pregnant? Seesaw, this concern of mine is real, right? There is something to being surrounded by Jews, no? What should we do?"
  • "Orwell described the cliches of politics as 'packets of aspirin ready at the elbow.' Israel's 'right to defense' is a harder narcotic."
  • From Gene Simmons to Pink — Meet the Jews who rock:
  • The images, which have since been deleted, were captioned: “Israel is the last frontier of the free world."
  • As J Street backs Israel's operation in Gaza, does it risk losing grassroots support?
  • What Thomas Aquinas might say about #Hamas' tunnels:
  • The Jewish bachelorette has spoken.
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?




















We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.