How to make Israeli Pickles

Mmm... Israeli pickles, melafafonim chamutzim (sour cucumbers) as they're known here. If you live in the US and haven't tasted them yet, you can buy a pale imitation at a kosher grocery stores-- but the canned variety doesn't compare to the jars of freshly made Israeli pickles that sit pickling in the sunlight on many Israeli counters counters every summer. (You can also buy other people's homemade pickles at all the little veggie stores here-- including some that are pickled in old soft drink bottles!)

As opposed to, say, kosher dill pickles in the US, Israeli pickles are pickled in saltwater only (no vinegar or pickling spices) and are exclusively made with small gherkins rather than big monster cucumbers. This also means that Israeli pickles are easy to make at home!

This is my first attempt at making Israeli pickles, following my husband's uncle's recipe. And, er, my pickles won't be ready for two days... so I have no idea how they'll turn out. However, I can tell you that Uncle Andrey's pickles are the best I've ever had-- I'll update later to tell you how mine compare!


All ingredients (except for the salt and water) are shown in the picture above!

Enough water to fill jar
Salt (1 TB per liter of water)
About 3.5 TB should be plenty, although I think put in more than that because I was nervous about not including enough.
2 kilos (just over 4 lbs) gherkin-sized, very fresh cucumbers. (In Israel, a special kind of cucumber called a "melafafon adama"-- soil cucumber-- is used for pickles. Wash the cucumbers well, as they truly are covered in soil!)
1 celery root with top (You could possibly use sliced up radishes and celery instead... although that's just a guess based on the taste of the root.)
1 head garlic
Fresh dill
1 hot pepper, halved (optional)


Salt water and bring it to boil on the stove.
While water is coming to a boil, peel the celery root and slice it thin. Coarsely chop the celery stalks and leaves. Peel garlic and slice each clove thin.
3. Place the hot pepper halves and one third of the garlic, dill, and celery (root, stalks and leaves) in the bottom of a large, sterile, resealable glass jar. Layer on half of the cucumbers. Add the second 1/3 of the celery, garlic and dill. Place the second half of the cucumbers on top of this, and finally add the rest of the celery, garlic and dill, filling the jar to the top.
4. With a metal knife stuck into the cucumber mixture to absorb heat and prevent the glass from breaking, carefully pour the boiling salty water into the jar until it is full.
5. Place lid on bottle, allow to cool slightly, and move to as sunny a spot as possible. Let it sit there (without opening the bottle) for three days, then let sit on the counter for a few more. Finally, chill and enjoy the pickles!

Waiting is the hardest part...

If you make Israeli pickles, how does this compare to your recipe?


  1. This looks good.

  2. They turned out well!! See my post up above. I'm liking them more and more the more I eat... a good thing since the jar is WAY bigger than it looks in the picture.

  3. shalom! i'm a caregiver here in arlozorov tel aviv, working with an old woman, thanks a lot for the recipe it helps. peti abon

  4. Update-- they were actually really good and safe to eat, although next time I'll include a little less celery root and a little more garlic and dill.

  5. Hello! I just found your recipe, and I'm definitely going to try it next. I started really wanting to make my own pickles after i picked up some chamutsim at the farmers market that comes to givat shmuel. This is the recipe i used http://kosherfood.about.com/od/sidedishes/r/pickles.htm

    Thanks for sharing yours!


  6. That has been a great guide, appreciate it, now to make israeli pickles is very easy with your tips. Thanks


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