(Yield: 1 gallon)
Enough pickling cucumbers to fill a one gallon jar
4 quarts filtered water, divided
3/4 cup sea salt 2 large heads fresh dill 6-9 cloves garlic, peeled 3-4 fresh grape, oak or horseradish leaves (for their tannins) 1 Tbsp Dill Pickling Spice or Spicy Dill Pickling Spice
To ensure the cucumbers stay firm, soak for 2-4 hours in ice water prior to brining. Then, scrape off the blossom end (even if there's no blossom, scrape the little brown star).
Heat 2 quarts of water, add salt and stir to dissolve completely. Add 2 quarts of cold water to temper the brine to a cool temperature.
Place dill, garlic, tannin-containing leaves and spices at the bottom of a one-gallon vessel. Pack cucumbers tightly into your vessel, leaving an inch of headspace at the top. Pour the cooled brine over the cucumbers, covering the cucumbers completely and leaving 1/2 inch of headspace at the top. Use a weight of some kind to keep cucumbers submerged.
Cover jar with an airlock lid or loose-fitting lid and let ferment in a dark, cool spot (out of direct sunlight) for 7-14 days, then transfer to the refrigerator. Feel free to taste the brine to assess sourness. (Hint: If your ambient temperature is very warm, move to fridge after 7 days, if cooler, up to 14 days.) Pickles should be ready after 1-2 weeks additional week of cold storage in the fridge!
HALF-SOUR BRINE VARIATION
Use 6 tbsp salt, rather than 3/4 cup. Transfer pickles to fridge after 7 days and consume within 3 weeks.