Many people assume that kosher pickles refer to pickles that have been produced according to Jewish laws or have been blessed by a rabbi. While genuine kosher pickles do carry the seal of approval, indicating certification as a kosher food, many kosher dill pickles do not. Likewise, the term Polish used to describe a type of dill pickles refers to its flavor, not its country of origin. When it comes to pickles, the terms kosher and Polish refer to the spices and seasonings used in processing the pickles.
When Kosher Means Kosher
Foods processed according to the laws of Kashrus, the Hebrew term for pure or suitable for human consumption, are certified as kosher. The Laws of Kashrus govern the production of food consumed by those of the Jewish religion, and ensure that all products in the food are considered pure. These laws regulate the use of meats, poultry, fruits and vegetables, and the way in which they are prepared. Pickles processed according to Jewish laws are certified as kosher.
When Kosher Means Flavor
Kosher also refers to a specific flavor of pickles that has nothing to do with the Jewish laws of Kashrus. According to the NY Food Museum, processors add garlic to the traditional dill pickle recipe to give them the characteristic flavor associated with kosher dills. These pickles are sold as kosher dills but do not carry the seal of certification as a kosher food. Look for them alongside other pickles in the grocery aisle.
Flavor in Polish Dill Pickles
Polish dills contain more spices and garlic than either traditional dill pickles or kosher dill pickles. These pickles tend to be peppery and may be flavored with mustard seeds. Their flavor is similar to the kosher dill and they are served in the same way. Polish dills served on the side or with sandwiches or lunch foods make a crunchy treat.
Look for the "K"
Look for genuine kosher dill pickles alongside other pickles in the grocery aisle or grouped with kosher foods in the specialty aisle. Products that are certified kosher are stamped with a symbol -- a circle with a K in the center. If the jar of pickles is not labeled with this seal, kosher refers to flavor of the pickles and not the way in which they have been prepared or the purity of the food.