Please be patient-this is a long reply.
I, too, have been looking for a recipe for the pickles/cucumbers served at Ted's. Being from the south, I grew up eating cucumber slices "marinated" in a solution of 50/50 water and vinegar, sliced onions, and cracked pepper. Around lunch time Mom would peel and thinly slice the cukes, cover them with the above ingredients, put them in the fridge and they would be ready by supper time. They were even better if any lasted until the next day. While dining at Ted's reminded me of this tradition, the flavor of the half-sours that Ted's serves was quite different. To me, Ted's half-sours tasted like seasoned cukes instead of a true pickle. I did not remember tasting any vinegar. I put together a menu for a men's pre-hunt dinner and I thought that the half-sours would compliment my menu perfectly. Thus began my quest.
When I googled on the net, I could not believe how many other people were searching for the recipe! I must have found 100 different requests. Many people got answers but they were all wrong. All the recipes that were provided by well meaning responders had 2 major errors. The recipes were for the common pickle that contains vinegar and is cooked once or twice. This just didn't sound right. I also remembered that our server had said that the unique flavor was because they put cumin and corriander in the brine. I could taste the cumin.
I picked up 4 pickling cucumbers yesterday and came home to try to recreate the flavor I experienced at Ted's. Hopeful to get a tip, I called Ted's located in Buford, GA. I talked with a very friendly Assistant Manager (everyone at Ted's seems to be way above average in the friendly department) who informed me that they DO NOT make their own pickles. They were fermented half-sours that were a traditional New York-Jewish flavor and that they purchase their half-sours from Sunshine Pickles. Now I had a place to start and if I can't get the recipe right, I know where I can purchase them. Here’s a link www.sunshinefresh.com
Being from the south, I had never tried this brining and fermenting process to make a pickle. A pickle without vinegar? But my mom says that’s how her mother made them on the farm she grew up on in West Virginia so I am going to try it. I started developing my own recipe yesterday, and so far they taste pretty close to Ted’s. I don't think that they will last the minimum of one week that it takes to ferment so I will have to start a new batch. I might pick up some of Ted’s half-sours to compare with mine to see how close my recipe turned out. I still would like to know how long Sunshine ferments their half-sours. As I had before, Ted's tasted like marinated cukes to me, fresher than "pickles".
Here’s my recipe so far. I’ll let you know how it turns out. Please see below for follow-up notes:
6 pickling cukes (unwaxed, small cukes)
4 T Kosher salt
2 ½ T minced garlic (from jar)
1 T Cumin
2 t crushed red pepper flakes
¼ t fennel
¼ t carroway
1 ½ T of my pickling spice (Whole black pepper corns, Dill seed, & celery seed)
1 T Mexican oregano
1 T onion powder
1 tsp dry mustard
1 tsp corriander
Wash cukes and slice in half length-wise then slice cross-wise in about ½ to ¾ inch pieces. Place in large non metal bowl. Mix remaining ingredients and pour over cukes. Cukes must be completely covered in brine solution so if they are not then add more water to cover. Cover with a plate that fits completely in bowl and weigh the plate down with another bowl to keep cukes submerged. Cover with a clean towel.
Please see the link below as well as the following recipe for directions on the fermenting process. I wish that I could give credit to the site/person that the recipe came from, but I can’t find it anymore.
This list of ingredients may seem long, but I already had them in my pantry. I don’t know how important the fennel and carroway are so if you don’t already have it and won’t use it for anything else I don’t know if I would advise that you go out and buy it. I wish that I had used mustard seed instead of the powder, but I didn’t have any on hand.
I will give an update when my fermentation is complete.Note: After about 3 hours, I tasted the cukes. So far, I think that I am on the right track. The brine seemed a little too strong so I added an additional 2-3 cups of water.
I haven't tried these yet, but they are on my list. The Kirby cucumbers are in my grocery store. I have not seen Claussen's Half Sours in the stores, just their other pickles, but will check them out.
HALF-SOUR PICKLES, BY THE QUART
1/4 teaspoon black peppercorns, crushed 1/4 teaspoon coriander seeds, crushed 1 bay leaf 1 garlic clove, chopped 1 quart pickling cucumbers (3-5 inches) 1 dill weed 1 chili pepper, slit lengthwise, optional 1 1/2 tablespoons pickling salt, that is 3 cups water Put the peppercorns, coriander, bay, and garlic into a quart jar. Gently wash the cucumbers, and remove the blossom ends. Pack the jar with the cucumbers, adding the dill head and chile pepper. Add the salt to the water, and pour the brine over the cucumbers, leaving 1 1/2 inches head space. Push a quart freezer bag into the mouth of the jar, and pour the remaining brine into the bag. Seal the bag. Keep the jar at room temperature, with a dish underneath if the seeping brine might do some damage otherwise. Within 3 days you should see tiny bubbles rising in the jar; this means that fermentation has begun. If scum forms on top of the brine, skim it off daily, and rinse off the brine bag. If so much brine bubbles out that the pickles aren't well covered, add some more brine made in the same proportion of salt to water. The pickles should be ready within a week, when they taste sour and when the tiny bubbles have stopped rising. Skim off any scum at the top of the jar, cap the jar, and store the pickles in the refrigerator for about 3 days, after which time they should be olive-green throughout. They are best eaten within about 3 weeks. Makes 1 quart
Source: The Joy of Pickling: 200 Flavor-Packed Recipes for All Kinds