First I picked out 6 of the least rotten feeling pickles at the produce stand. I gave them a good scrubbing and trimmed off any soft spots. I also trimmed both ends of each cuke. Then I soaked them for about an hour in an ice water bath to firm them up. Next I located one of the pickle jars I'd saved. It was just big enough to do the job. Now to add my flavorings. Lacking a proper head of dill I opted to use a tsp. of dried dill. I also added a tsp. of pickling spices and 2 peeled cloves of garlic to the bottom of the jar. Next I added the cucumbers, standing them on their ends. After I had all the goodies loaded into the jar I mixed up a pickling brine using some kosher salt and water. Now to rig up some way to keep the cukes below the surface. I put some water into a Ziploc bag and stuffed that into the jar top. Oh, I forgot to mention the oak leaf. I had read somewhere that if you add a tannin rich leaf (or leaves) to the jar it will make your pickles crisper. The leaves can be oak, grape, horseradish, or cherry. I had access to none of the above. I finally located an oak tree in the Walgreen's parking lot. Later on I read that the oak leaves need to be the rounded, not pointy, variety. Apparently pointy oak leaves have too much tannin and will make your pickles too astringent.
I added a cloth to the top of my makeshift pickle crock and left it alone for 3 days. On day 3 I removed the cloth to take a peek. I was looking for bubbles which would signal that fermentation was underway. Success!
Fermentation is an inexact science. There are lots of variables. My pickles should be done in 7 to 10 days. Our days are getting colder now so I am thinking it will be more like 10 days before they are ready to go into the fridge. The cold will then inhibit fermentation and allow the pickles to mellow. There is just one hitch in my plan. I will be out of town on day 10. I am going to set the jar against a cold outer wall and hope for the best. Here is a picture of the pickles showing the oak leaf I had found.
As you can see, it is the pointy leaf variety (figures). I have removed it today and am hoping the tannin levels in the brine aren't too high. I do have some powdered tannin that I use in wine making. I wonder if I couldn't add a bit of that to my pickles in the future? Check back in about a week to see how these pickles turned out.