Here is a recipe for traditional salt-water pickles like the ones made by The Pickle Guys on the Lower East Side of Manhattan and served in most New York delis and diners. Feel free to adjust the mix of spices to your liking.
In a saucepan, bring the distilled water and salt to the boil. When all the salt is dissolved, remove from the heat and cool. This can be done in advance.
Wash the cucumbers and remove the blossom ends (as opposed to the stem ends). Unless your cucumbers have just been picked, soak them for 2 hours in distilled water, which will make your finished pickles firmer.
Place the dill, bay leaves, garlic and pickling spices in the bottom of a glass or ceramic container that’s just large enough to hold all the cucumbers packed tightly together. After filling with the cucumbers, cover with the cooled pickling brine to 10 cm (4 inches) above the top of the cucumbers. To keep the cucumbers submerged, cover with a small plate weighted with a small cup or a sealed plastic bag filled with brine (you fill the bag with brine in case it leaks). Cover the jar with a clean tea towel (dish towel), a piece of muslin (cheesecloth) or an unsealed lid. Keep in a cool, dark place, outside of the refrigerator.
Every day or so, remove the scum that forms on the surface and, if necessary, add a little more brine to keep the cucumbers submerged. After 4 or 5 days at room temperature, the cucumbers will be partly fermented; they’re what we call ‘half sours’. After 3 weeks, they will be completely fermented, or ‘full sours’. You then have your pickles. How long you ferment depends on how sour you like your pickles. When they reach that point, you should refrigerate your pickle container, which will drastically slow down the fermentation process.
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