Hungarian Gerkins

(Kovaszos Uborka) this traditional pickle recipe is from the Hungarian Cookery Book by Karoly Gundel (1956)

  • 2 kg (4 lb) short thick cucumbers
  • 150g (5 oz) bread (made with yeast)
  • 20g (1 oz) peppercorns
  • 40g (1 ½ oz) salt
  • 2 L (4 pt) water
  • dill (fresh is best)
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 2-3 bay leaves

You will need a glass or earthenware jar with a capacity of about 4pts. Toast the thinly sliced bread. Cut off the tips of the cucumbers, taste them in case there are any bitter ones. Then pierce them all over the surface with a sharp knife. Boil the salt in the water and let this brine cool.

Lay some slices of toast in the bottom of the glass or earthenware jar and put in half the cucumbers-if possible in an upright position. Put another layer of toast on them and then the rest of the cucumbers in the same way. Cover with what is left of the toast. Add peppercorns, bay leaves, dill, and sprinkle a clove of crushed garlic over cucumbers. Pour the cold brine over the cucumbers till it covers the top slices of toast. Cover the container with a saucer and set in a warm place to ferment. Let ferment 5-6 days until they loose their color and turn yellowish green and glassy looking.

When cucumbers are sufficiently fermented, remove them, drain off liquid, return cucumbers to glass and strain marinade over them. Cool them on ice. Serve very cold, peeled or with skin. With some crushed ice and a little of marinade. If well cooled the liquid makes a refreshing drink.

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