Howard Karten's Real Pickled (fermented) cucumbers
Summary: Kirby ("bumpy") cucumbers are fermented in a flavored brine for a week or so, to make real pickles, i.e. naturally-fermented, with no vinegar.
firm kirby cucumbers
1 quart water
2-4 tablespoons kosher salt (experiment to see what works best for you)
3-4 cloves fresh garlic, smashed with the side of a knife
1 teaspoon coriander seeds
1 teaspoon mustard seeds
1 teaspoon peppercorns
NOTE: The amount of brine you use depends on the number of cucumbers you're pickling. Make enough brine so that the pickles are at least 5" below the surface of the brine. (I.e., start with 2 quarts of brine; add more brine if necessary.)
Wash cucumbers carefully.
Place in a food-grade plastic pail (or a container made of crockery or glass) and place a heavy plate over them to keep them submerged. (You can buy a plastic container at most doughnut shops.) Pour brine into the pail. There should be enough brine to cover the cucumbers with plenty of room to spare.
Cover the top of the pail loosely, e.g. with a paper bag, to keep out foreign objects, flies, etc.
Let the pail sit for a week to 10 days in a place that's not too cold, not too hot. The warmer it is, the sooner the fermentation will be finished. After about 6 days, check the pickles every day to see if they're done enough for you.
When pickles are done enough for you, rinse them off and put them in a glass or plastic container. Fill container with water and a bit of salt and refrigerate.
Note: this is essentially a biological recipe. The brine pulls sugars out of the cucumbers, and yeasts growing in the brine digest the sugars and flavor the cucumbers. Because it's a biological recipe, the length of time needed for fermentation will vary depending on the surrounding temperature, the amount of sugar in the cucumbers, etc.
(c) 2003 Howard A. Karten