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Ba-Tampte Half-Sour Shortage


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I hope I am not alone in my enthusiasm and affection for the Ba-Tampte Half-Sour Pickle. To say it is my favorite commercially prepared pickle is to understate the case in a serious way. But for the last several weeks they have been unprocurable, at least in the stores I frequent. I usually buy a jar every two weeks at the Van Ness Giant (two weeks is about all a jar is good for: they deteriorate quickly), but for the last five or six weeks the fresh-pack pickle case has been barren of them, which leaves a blank patch in my soul. Garlic Dills? Sure, they have those, but those, while quite good, are not what I crave. Today I went to the Georgetown Safeway to see if they might have some, but no. They had Ba-Tampte Deli Wholes and Deli Halves, but no Half Sours were to be found. I googled "Ba-Tampte Half-Sour pickle shortage", but that turned up no useful information. Has anyone seen these now-elusive pickles lately? Has anyone heard distant rumblings of impending pickle doom? Does anyone know how to do a Half-Sour Pickle Dance to persuade the gods to reunite us with our pickles?

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I hope I am not alone in my enthusiasm and affection for the Ba-Tampte Half-Sour Pickle. To say it is my favorite commercially prepared pickle is to understate the case in a serious way. But for the last several weeks they have been unprocurable, at least in the stores I frequent. I usually buy a jar every two weeks at the Van Ness Giant (two weeks is about all a jar is good for: they deteriorate quickly), but for the last five or six weeks the fresh-pack pickle case has been barren of them, which leaves a blank patch in my soul. Garlic Dills? Sure, they have those, but those, while quite good, are not what I crave. Today I went to the Georgetown Safeway to see if they might have some, but no. They had Ba-Tampte Deli Wholes and Deli Halves, but no Half Sours were to be found. I googled "Ba-Tampte Half-Sour pickle shortage", but that turned up no useful information. Has anyone seen these now-elusive pickles lately? Has anyone heard distant rumblings of impending pickle doom? Does anyone know how to do a Half-Sour Pickle Dance to persuade the gods to reunite us with our pickles?

The Fairfax Costco has a half sour from northern NJ that will go one-on-one with the Ba Tampte half sour. I am too lazy to open my refrigerator and check its name but I just bought a half gallon plastic container of it this afternoon. To be honest I personally prefer the garlic sour. Still, I think the Fairfax Costco half sours are exactly what you are looking for.

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The Fairfax Costco has a half sour from northern NJ that will go one-on-one with the Ba Tampte half sour. I am too lazy to open my refrigerator and check its name but I just bought a half gallon plastic container of it this afternoon. To be honest I personally prefer the garlic sour. Still, I think the Fairfax Costco half sours are exactly what you are looking for.

Geshmak. I bought some at Pentagon City last month. They're quite good.

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The Fairfax Costco has a half sour from northern NJ that will go one-on-one with the Ba Tampte half sour. I am too lazy to open my refrigerator and check its name but I just bought a half gallon plastic container of it this afternoon. To be honest I personally prefer the garlic sour. Still, I think the Fairfax Costco half sours are exactly what you are looking for.

I'm perfectly happy trying a brand of half-sours other than Ba-Tampte; I'm not invested in the company. I'm less than happy going to the Fairfax Costco, however, or even Pentagon City.
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Rodman's Friendship Heights is where I usually get them. If you are adventurous in the kitchen, you might try making your own, now that it is possible to find small Kirby cukes at local farmers' markets. Put a teaspoon of kosher (or un-iodized) salt in the bottom of a clean quart jar. Add a few cloves of garlic and a bay leaf. rinse the cukes and pack them standing up as tightly as you can, add another teaspoon of salt and a few sprigs of fresh dill to the top of the jar, fill the jar with filtered water tighten the lid, and rotate the jar to melt and distribute the salt. partially unscrew the top, sit the jar in a small bowl and put it in your refrigerator. In two or three days, you can start eating them as half-sours. They will ferment very slowly in the refrigerator, so they will probably remain half rather than turning into full-sours by the time you finish the jar. It's important to use small cukes and pack them tightly or they'll get mushy rather than staying crisp.

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I'm perfectly happy trying a brand of half-sours other than Ba-Tampte; I'm not invested in the company. I'm less than happy going to the Fairfax Costco, however, or even Pentagon City.

I just bought the Geshmak half-sours at the Gaithersburg Costco yesterday if that's more convenient for you.

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Rodman's Friendship Heights is where I usually get them. If you are adventurous in the kitchen, you might try making your own, now that it is possible to find small Kirby cukes at local farmers' markets. Put a teaspoon of kosher (or un-iodized) salt in the bottom of a clean quart jar. Add a few cloves of garlic and a bay leaf. rinse the cukes and pack them standing up as tightly as you can, add another teaspoon of salt and a few sprigs of fresh dill to the top of the jar, fill the jar with filtered water tighten the lid, and rotate the jar to melt and distribute the salt. partially unscrew the top, sit the jar in a small bowl and put it in your refrigerator. In two or three days, you can start eating them as half-sours. They will ferment very slowly in the refrigerator, so they will probably remain half rather than turning into full-sours by the time you finish the jar. It's important to use small cukes and pack them tightly or they'll get mushy rather than staying crisp.

Is it really that easy? I've never made any kind of fermented pickles, and have always felt some trepidation about it. For a Ba-Tampte-sized jar, one needs only two teaspoons of salt? Anyway, I'm certainly adventurous enough for that.

As to Ba-Tampte half sours at Rodman's: Have you found nice fresh ones there within the last six weeks?

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I live in Kalorama Triangle!

Fairfax, Pentagon City, Gaithersburg...you are surrounded by Half Sours! Still, this is probably why the Pentagon City Costco is one of the top three in volume for the entire chain: it is the closest to a major downtown area, i.e. D. C.

PS Thank you, Pat. I am chomping on one as I type this. A really good pickle.

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Is it really that easy? I've never made any kind of fermented pickles, and have always felt some trepidation about it. For a Ba-Tampte-sized jar, one needs only two teaspoons of salt? Anyway, I'm certainly adventurous enough for that.

As to Ba-Tampte half sours at Rodman's: Have you found nice fresh ones there within the last six weeks?

I haven't bought any at Rodman's recently, because I have been eating ones I made myself. I think the Ba-Tampte jars are bigger than quart-sized. But if you are using an old Ba-Tampte jar to make your own pickles, put a third teaspoon of salt in. If the pickles seem too salty, pour off some of the brine and fill the jar with clear filtered water and that will slightly desalinate the pickles. ( I probably put slightly heaping teaspoons of salt in, when I make them.)

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I am pleased to report that the Brookville Market in Cleveland Park has an ample supply of Ba-Tampte Half-Sour Pickles. It's a small neighborhood supermarket on the east side of Connecticut Avenue across from the Uptown Theater, and amazingly enough they actually take orders over the phone and deliver. Mr. Lee, who handles the delivery side, is a pleasure to meet and always helpful. I suppose asking for one jar of pickles to be delivered might be a bit much, but surely there are other items you might need as well. And if you prefer to shop in person, Cleveland Park is a lot more convenient than Pentagon City for a Kalorama resident.

I haven't actually tried the Ba-Tampte Half Sours, as I am partial to the hard stuff (full sours and garlic dill). But Pam the Butcher, who was the butcher/Kosher food buyer at Brookville a few years back, once gave me a souped-up Ba-Tampte she had cured with extra garlic and other good things. Now that I think of it, I will have to find out if she still does that at her current place of business (Wagshal's Market, I believe).

Good luck with the search!

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I haven't bought any at Rodman's recently, because I have been eating ones I made myself. I think the Ba-Tampte jars are bigger than quart-sized. But if you are using an old Ba-Tampte jar to make your own pickles, put a third teaspoon of salt in. If the pickles seem too salty, pour off some of the brine and fill the jar with clear filtered water and that will slightly desalinate the pickles. ( I probably put slightly heaping teaspoons of salt in, when I make them.)

Thanks. I'll probably try this this weekend, assuming I find a supply of Kirby cukes. I don't have a Ba-Tampte pickle jar in front of me, but the pictures on the Ba-Tampte website show one-quart jars.
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I am pleased to report that the Brookville Market in Cleveland Park has an ample supply of Ba-Tampte Half-Sour Pickles.

Thanks for the info. I know Brookville Market, and it's fairly convenient for me to shop there, especially if I'm already going to Petco to get supplies for my pooch. I'm wondering, though, if there's really a supply problem, if the half-sours at Brookville are really fresh. The deli manager at the Van Ness Giant said he's been trying to get them for weeks. Were they a bright green, looking pretty much like fresh cucumbers? If they're at all olive green in color they're not worth eating.
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I noticed that there did seem to be a difference in color between the garlic dills and the half-sours, though I can't say for certain how much brighter green they were. They did look fresher than the others, though looks can be deceiving. Maybe the deli manager can tell you when they came in? Let us know what you find out!

Oh, and I figured you would probably know Brookville, but a lot of other people wouldn't. I am, of course, assuming there are other pickle aficionados out there following this thread.

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I also put some fresh dill in the bottom of the jar sometimes, before putting the cukes in. Occasionally I add some other pickling spices besides garlic and bay leaf: a couple of whole allspice berries, a small dried red chile,coriander and mustard seeds. Really, the only must haves are garlic and fresh dill...

Zora, have you tried the Geshmak "dill spears" that some of the Costcos sell? I mentioned their "half sours" earlier in this thread but their "dill spears" are a pickle that rarely, if ever, comes into the D. C. area. My guess is that this is a one time buy for Costco; anyway, I bought six half gallon containers of them tonight. I left a few on the shelf in Fairfax...

I also wonder what their sour pickles taste like: http://frankels.kosheronweb.com/index.php/sour-pickles-7510.html This, by the way, is an incredible site for ordering pickles, etc. from a Brooklyn store.

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Zora, have you tried the Geshmak "dill spears" that some of the Costcos sell? I mentioned their "half sours" earlier in this thread but their "dill spears" are a pickle that rarely, if ever, comes into the D. C. area. My guess is that this is a one time buy for Costco; anyway. I bought six half gallon containers of them tonight. I left a few on the shelf in Fairfax...

Wow, that's a lotta pickles. One one hand, they have about zero calories, but on the other there is all that salt to think about. To answer your qveshtion, Joe, I have not tried the Costco pickles. My home made pickles are already geshmak (tasty, delicious) enough. During the winter, I occasionally buy Ba Tampte or Bubbie's, but we don't have a big pickle addiction.

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Wow, that's a lotta pickles. One one hand, they have about zero calories, but on the other there is all that salt to think about. To answer your qveshtion, Joe, I have not tried the Costco pickles. My home made pickles are already geshmak (tasty, delicious) enough. During the winter, I occasionally buy Ba Tampte or Bubbie's, but we don't have a big pickle addiction.

I'm probably as obsessed with pickles as anyone you'll ever meet. One of the primary reasons is exactly what you said, Zora: no calories. I munch on a pickle or so a day when I'm hungry and have done this for several decades. I love Ba Tampte sours and Bubbie's are good, too. Have you ever noticed that Bubbie's are Canadian? I've never tasted them side by side with Strub's (Wegman's sells them here) but I'm guessing they are very similar. The difference might actually have more to do with cost than anything else.

The Geshmak's are extremely good. They are exactly the pickle I've bought in the New York metro area and driven home with in my trunk in the winter. Should I mention that I once drove home from Montreal in January with pickles in my trunk? Mrs. Whyte's and several others.

Now, if we're really going to get into the best pickles-I have not had your's-years ago I had Guss' from their store in (I think) the Village. Having said this there is a deli in the Viktualien Markt in Munich that has the most incredible sour garlic barrel pickles. Of course I can't drive home from Munich, even in January.

Still, the Geshmak's were really good. Even if they are from Paterson, NJ and not Montreal or Munich.

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They finally had a few jars of Ba Tampte half sours at the Van Ness Giant on Saturday. I have to say, they're really not as good as the home-made pickles Zora prodded me into making. I started a fresh batch on Sunday, so I haven't eaten any yet. The first batch was just cucumbers, water, salt, and sliced garlic. For my new batch, I added fresh dill, brown mustard seeds, and a few slices of fresh green chile. The Ba Tampte half sours are undilled, so that should make these very different from what I'm used to.

Incidentally, for those following this conversation who haven't actually tried half sour pickles, the terminology is a little misleading. Half sour pickles really aren't sour at all, they're just half pickled.

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They finally had a few jars of Ba Tampte half sours at the Van Ness Giant on Saturday. I have to say, they're really not as good as the home-made pickles Zora prodded me into making. I started a fresh batch on Sunday, so I haven't eaten any yet. The first batch was just cucumbers, water, salt, and sliced garlic. For my new batch, I added fresh dill, brown mustard seeds, and a few slices of fresh green chile. The Ba Tampte half sours are undilled, so that should make these very different from what I'm used to.

The new batch sounds fantastic. Fresh dill makes a huge difference.
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Okay, long shot here, some eight years since the last post:  The McLean Giant usually has the half sours, bless their heart.  But where can I find Ba Tampte Wonder Peppers (note: not their hot peppers; these are sweet bell peppers marinated like no one else's)?  I used to find them at Moti's in Rockville and, perhaps many years ago at the Shalom market in Wheaton (haven't checked there recently).   Ba Tampte's web site is not helpful.

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