Pickling is called Russia's national pastime and here is a delicious example of their labor of love.
- 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)
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.
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.