Pickles are simply fermented cucumbers. Fermentation is the process of allowing bacteria to grow on the cucumbers. This bacteria does not harm the cucumber, it merely digests the cucumber's sugar and converts it into lactic acid. This changes the flavor of the cucumber and produces the sour taste that is characteristic of pickles. Due to the high lactic acid content, the pickles have an indefinite shelf life, even when left unrefrigerated for long periods of time.
Things You'll Need
Large stainless steel pot
Scrub the fresh cucumbers under running water with a vegetable brush. Cut the ends off of the cucumbers.
Add 1/8 cup of pickling spices and 1 bunch of dill to the 5-gallon bucket.
Add the cucumbers to the bucket.
Add 1 cup of white vinegar and 3/4 cup of pickling salt to the bucket. Pour approximately 1 gallon of water into the bucket.
Add 10 fresh peeled garlic cloves, 1/8 cup of pickling spices and 1 bunch of dill to the bucket so that they float on top of the cucumbers.
Place a plate that is slight smaller than the diameter of the bucket on top of the mixture.
Fill a 1-quart jar with water and place the jar on top of the plate. If you don't have a 1-quart jar, any weight will work. The plate serves the function of holding down the cucumbers to ensure that they stay submerged. If the cucumbers do not remain submerged, they will rot. Make sure that whatever weight you use is strong enough to keep the plate or the cucumbers from floating.
Cover the bucket with a towel. Store the bucket at room temperature. Check the bucket each day for a film forming at the top. Skim off this film if it is present.
Allow the cucumbers to ferment 2 1/2 to 3 weeks. The pickles are done when they are evenly colored and translucent.
Strain the liquid mixture from the bucket with a cheesecloth.
Pour the strained liquid into a large pot.
Place the pickles into glass jars up to 3/4 inch from the top.
Boil the strained liquid.
Pour the strained liquid into each of the jars up to 1/2 inch from the top. Remove any air bubbles by stirring with a thin spatula.
Screw on the lids to the jars. Set the jars in the pot of boiling water for 15 minutes to properly remove all air from the jars.
Allow the pickles to ferment inside the jars for at least 1 week before eating.
Remove the garlic for plain dill pickles.