A Taste Of The ‘Old Country’ At The Pickle Guys II

A Taste Of The ‘Old Country’ At The Pickle Guys II
pickles
(All photos by Ditmas Park Corner)

Who says you have to travel to the Lower East Side for a barrel cured, Eastern European-style pickle?

Eight years ago, owner and pickle master Alan Kaufman opened up a second branch of his famous LES store, The Pickle Guys, in Midwood at 1364 Coney Island Avenue, between Avenues J and K.

Stepping into the narrow storefront, the biting smell of vinegar makes my nose tingle as I peer into the plastic barrels of pickling delicacies lining the wall four rows deep. Items marinate in the barrels from one day to six months, soaking up the vinegar, salt, and garlic to perfection, according to the Pickle Guys website.

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There is an overwhelming variety of kosher pickled items (made under strict rabbinical supervision), featuring staples like New, 1/2 Sour and Horseradish flavors to more surprising choices like pickled pineapples, mangoes and lox. Though some of the options surprised me, many have historic roots — like the the pickled watermelon, which is an Eastern European tradition.

“We make sour pickles when we get Michigan [kirby] cucumbers. They’re the best. And sour pickles are not only the best sellers, but they take the longest to make. It takes three months to make a sour pickle. And you need a real good cucumber to last three months,” said owner Alan Kaufman, or Al, to writer Zina Saunders.

Despite the vast taste differences, Al says that all pickles are very similar in terms of ingredients. “It’s all saltwater, pickling spices and garlic, plus the amount of time they spend in the brine.”

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We dove right in with a batch of Sour and New pickles, plus dark and tangy Kalamata Olives in a maroon vinegar brine. The Sours were no joke; with a springy and dense texture and an eye-watering, throat-burning vinegar bite.   I can confidently call these my favorite pickles in Brooklyn to date (admittedly, I haven’t tried every pickle in the boro yet), but one Yelp reviewer brazenly calls them “the best sour pickles on planet earth.”

My personal favorite is the deep, pine green colored New Pickle. This barely-brined pickle comes out thick and meaty with a ferocious snap and a white, juicy center.

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Though I went for the classic order, next time I’ll taste the highly-recommend the pickled grape tomatoes (according to DPC writer Mary Bakija.)

During my visit, the staff members were jocular and friendly, and even handed me a pickle of my choice to munch on while filling up my tupperware to the brim. My whole order came to $10.75, completely reasonable for a portion of pickles that should have been more than just an afternoon snack (I admit that I crunched most of them down to nothing while typing this article. Now my keyboard smells like vinegar.)

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Visit The Pickle Guys II at 1364 Coney Island Avenue close to Avenue J, from Sunday to Wednesday, 9am to 6pm; Thursday from 9am to 8pm; and Friday from 9am to 4pm. For our Kosher readers, the store operates under the strict supervision of Rabbi Meir Goldberg from Vaad Hakashrus of Flatbush. If you’re planning on visiting this weekend or early next week, call ahead of time for their adjusted Rosh Hashanah hours (718-677-0639).

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