Since the publication of the first edition of my book, The Joy of Pickling, several New Yorkers (or former New Yorkers) have asked me why I failed to include any sour cucumber pickles.The first time I heard this question, I was bewildered. All the pickles in my book are sour; pickles are by definition sour. But the New Yorkers were looking at recipe titles for the term sour or full-sour — or maybe New York or kosher — anything to reassure them that the pickles would turn out like the ones from their favorite sidewalk shop in Lower Manhattan. They all urged me to go to one of these shops and taste the pickles and peer into the barrels, and I did.
For all you New Yorkers, here’s a recipe for pickles as close as I can get to the ones you pine for.
3 qts water
1/2 cup pickling salt
2 Tablespoons whole coriander seeds
1 teaspoon whole black peppercorns
1 Tablespoon whole allspice berries
about 4 lbs cucumbers
8 cloves garlic, sliced
2 small fresh or dried hot peppers
4-6 dill heads
Layer the cucumbers in a gallon jar with the dill, hot peppers, peppercorns, and coriander. Dissolve the salt in the water, and pour enough brine over the cucumbers to cover them. Push a gallon-size freezer bag into the jar, pour the remaining brine into the bag, and seal the bag. Keep the jar at room temperature.
Within three days you should see the tiny bubbles in the brine. If scum forms on top of the brine, skim it off daily and rinse off the brine bag.
The pickles should be ready in about two weeks, when they are sour and olive-green throughout. At this point, remove the brine bag and any scum, cap the jar, and store it in the refrigerator, where the pickles will keep for several months or longer.