Soak (but do not scrub) cucumbers in very cold water for 5 minutes.
Scald a very clean 1 gallon glass jar or crock with boiling water. Place a grape leaf at the bottom and arrange cucumbers vertically in layers, inserting garlic cloves and dill weed here and there. Do not pack tightly.
Add salt to boiling water and stir. Pour brine over cucumbers and add peppercorns. (If not using leaves, add alum for added crispness.) I never do this, and they are always crisp, and I leave out grape leaves because I don't have any.
Cover with leaves and a plate and place in a cool, dark place to ferment. I just cover with plate. In the old days, dry rusks of rye bread were put on top to aid the fermentation process and keep the cucumbers from floating up. This is a good idea.
After 4 to 5 days, the cucumbers will be semi cured; some gourmets prefer them that way. After a few more days, fully cured pickles will become a lighter green.
Pickles may be placed in smaller jars that are more convenient for storage. Scald 3 or 4 quart jars, pour off and strain pickling juice (discarding garlic and dill weed). Transfer pickles, fill quarts with strained liquid, cover, and refrigerate.
The juice, or kvas, is never thrown out; it is used as a base for soups, borsch, or drunk cold as an eye-opener. Yummy!