Total time: 35 minutes, plus 24 hours standing
2 pounds pickling cucumbers
1 onion, thinly sliced
1 red bell pepper,
seeded and thinly sliced
1 teaspoon coarse salt
5 black peppercorns
2 bay leaves
1 1/2 teaspoons dried red pepper flakes
1/2 head garlic (peeled and crushed)
1/2 quart apple cider vinegar
2 cups sugar
1. Slice the cucumbers lengthwise one-fourth-inch thick; use a mandoline, if you have one. Combine the cucumbers with the onion and red pepper in a non-aluminum bowl and coat lightly with the salt. Cover and refrigerate 24 hours.
2. Drain the cucumber mixture in a colander and let sit 15 minutes. Check to see if a cucumber tastes too salty; if so, rinse with cold water. Meanwhile, bring a large pot of water to a boil and sterilize 2 (1-quart) jars and lids about 5 minutes. Turn off the heat, but leave the jars and lids in the hot water until you're ready to use them.
3. Combine the peppercorns, bay leaves, red pepper flakes, garlic, cider vinegar and sugar in a large pot and bring to a boil. Divide the drained cucumber mixture between the sterilized jars and cover with the hot pickling liquid, filling to within one-fourth inch of the rim. Cover with the lids and fasten the rings tight. The pickles are now ready, but they will only get better over time; store in the refrigerator.
Each tablespoon: 4 calories; 33 mg. sodium; 0 mg. cholesterol; 0 grams fat; 0 grams saturated fat; 1 gram carbohydrates; 0 grams protein; 0.04 gram fiber.