As people sorted themselves into groups of five or six at Pardes Jewish Day School on Sunday, March 17, they came to tables set with brand-new mason jars, cucumbers, green beans, kosher salt, peppercorns, mustard seeds and more. However, vinegar was noticeably absent.

“How many of you are surprised that there’s no vinegar?” asked Jeffrey Yoskowitz, self-described “guide for your pickling journey” and the final speaker for the Bureau of Jewish Education of Greater Phoenix’s Passages series. Most people nodded or raised a hand in an affirmative gesture.

Yoskowitz knew most people thought of vinegar as an indispensable pickling ingredient and he was eager to set them straight. (He did the same for pickling spice: “a scam!”)

There are two camps in the pickling world, according to Yoskowitz. On the one hand, there are the mainstream bread and butter pickles that one finds in the middle aisles of the grocery stores floating in their “neon yellow” jars. Some refer to these as “goyishe pickles,” he said, though he calls them “bomb shelter pickles,” a product with no nutritional value but one that will last forever.

In the other camp are “old-fashioned shtetl pickles.” Water, kosher salt, garlic and a few other spices are all it takes to make a delicious and traditional pickle. At least, that’s Yoskowitz’s thesis and to prove it, he invited everyone who came to “The Jewish History of Pickling: Make Your Own Pickle” to try his recipe and decide for themselves.

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