Wash cucumbers, and with the peel left on, slice into 1/4 inch rounds.
Place cucumber slices into a colander or large strainer that is placed over a large bowl.
Sprinkle salt over the cucumbers and toss. Allow the cucumbers to drain at room temperature for one hour or in the refrigerator for 3 hours.
Once cucumbers have been allowed to drain, prepare to place them in the jars. DO NOT RINSE THE CUCUMBER SLICES. Reserve the accumulated liquid in the bowl that was catching the cucumber liquid/salt drippings.
If you are NOT water bath canning these pickles, place one black tea bag on the bottom of each jar. If you do plan to water bath can these pickles, simply begin to layer the cucumber slices into the jars without adding a tea bag.
As you begin to layer cucumber slices into the jars, periodically GENTLY press down on the cucumber slices to try to compact them as tightly as possible without crushing them. If you are using fresh herbs, you can layer them periodically between the cucumber slices.
Set the filled jars aside.
SWEET BRINE PREPARATION: To prepare a sweet brine, mix the vinegar, sugar, mustard seeds, celery seeds, turmeric, and red pepper flakes (if using) into a medium-sized saucepan on high heat. Bring the mixture to a boil and stir well until all the sugar has dissolved. Remove the pan from the heat.
SAVORY BRINE PREPARATION: To prepare a savory brine, mix the vinegar, water, mustard seeds, celery seeds, turmeric, and red pepper flakes (if using) into a medium-sized saucepan on high heat. Bring to a boil while stirring and then remove the pan from the heat.
Using either brine, ladle the hot brine into each of the jars, leaving a 1/2 inch headspace in each jar. Allow the jars to cool, and then place a lid on each jar and refrigerate the jars for at least one hour before serving. These pickles will stay fresh in the refrigerator for approximately six months.
PROBIOTIC BOOST PREPARATION: If you want to add a probiotic boost to either the sweet-brined pickles or the savory-brined pickles, fill your jars slightly lower than up to the normal 1/2 inch headspace. This will provide you with room to add in a few tablespoons of raw apple cider vinegar to each jar, bringing the total brine up to the 1/2 inch headspace. You will add the raw apple cider vinegar to each jar ONLY after the contents of the jars have cooled completely at room temperature. Afterward, these pickles will need to be refrigerated and cannot be water bath canned. These pickles will stay fresh in the refrigerator for approximately six months.
WATER BATH CANNING PROCEDURE: If you want to water bath can these pickles, ladle hot brine into each of the jars, leaving a 1/2 inch headspace in each jar and then follow appropriate water bath canning procedures. Depending on what type of canning lids you use, these pickles, if canned properly, will have a shelf life for one year to 18 months.