Pickling is called Russia's national pastime and here is a delicious example of their labor of love.
MAKES 2 QUARTS
1/2 cup coarse kosher salt
16–20 small kirby cucumbers, tips trimmed, well washed
1 tbsp. sugar
2 cups cider vinegar
12 black peppercorns
8 cloves garlic, peeled
1 bay leaf
1 bunch dill with seed heads
1–2 horseradish, oak, or grape leaves (optional)
1. Dissolve 1/4 cup salt in 2 1/2 quarts water in a large bowl. Add cucumbers and set aside for 12 hours. Drain and rinse.
2. Combine 1/4 cup salt, sugar, vinegar, and 2 cups water in a saucepan. Bring to a boil over high heat. Add peppercorns, garlic, and bay leaf and boil for 2 minutes. Fit cucumbers upright in 2 hot, sterilized quart jars. Tuck in dill. Pour hot vinegar mixture over cucumbers to cover. Add leaves, if using. Put lids on jars, screw on bands, and process in a boiling water bath for 15 minutes. Remove jars from pot and cool. Store in a cool, dark place for at least 3 weeks and up to 1 year.