Fermented pickles

I know almost all of us love pickles. Right? Especially the fermented ones. Because there is a difference when you get a pickle with fermentation. Ordinary pickle has vinegar to achieve the sour taste. Vinegar by default blocks fermentation. Which means, using vinegar you will have sour pickle without the benefits and flavor of fermentation. Since my palate is addicted to sour, I love both. But fermented food just has that extra funky flavor to it too, that I can’t resist. These fermented pickles are the star of every summer in Hungary alongside with corn and watermelon. I will tell you how traditionally it is made, and how I manage to make it without a fail now. BUT. I still have questions about the whole process and I decided to get to the bottom of it this summer. Will update you on my findings.

So how is this Hungarian fermented pickle different from the well known kosher pickles? I have tried many kosher pickles since we live in the US. Kosher pickle is traditionally made in salt brine and only garlic and dill is used as flavors. So it should b the same. Almost. Not one of the pickles I tried here resemble to these Hungarian pickles. So I have to draw the conclusion,  it will be the bread. The name of this pickle in Hungarian is “kovaszos cucumber” which means sourdough cucumber.  I did fail many times making this here in California. And the only thing I can think of as a culprit is the bread. “Sourdough bread is made by the fermentation of dough using naturally occurring lactobacilli and yeast. Sourdough bread has a mildly sour taste not present in most breads made with baker’s yeast and better inherent keeping qualities than other breads, due to the lactic acid produced by the lactobacilli.”  I will have a few experiments during this cucumber season and I will try and ferment it with sourdough starter too.

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Important tips

  1. maybe needless to say but use pickling cucumbers (this is a specific cucumber variety) and possibly smaller ones, they can keep their crunchiness more
  2. get some good quality white sourdough bread
  3. make sure the weather is sunny for the next 4-5 days, this pickle is fermented OUTSIDE, IN THE SUN. If the nights get cold where you live, move the jar inside for the evening.
  4. if you add more salt to the brine, fermentation will need more time, if you add less, fermentation may not happen
  5. it is best to stack the cucumbers standing in the jar, probably in 2 levels. unfortunately they were a bit big this time so the 2nd layer had to lie down. It still turned out to be perfect.
  6. for best flavor try and get flowering dill

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Ingredients (I used a 2Q jar that fit 10 bigger cucumbers, see picture below)

  • a clean pickling jar
  • about 3lbs of pickling cucumber, possibly very similar size (amount depends on the jar you have). A 2Q jar can fit about 13 smaller pickling cucumber or 10 medium sized one. This should weigh about 3lbs.
  • 1 big bunch of flowering dill
  • 6-8 garlic cloves
  • 2 thick slices of white sourdough bread
  • 3.5% brine (2Tbsp salt to 1Q filtered water)

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Method

PLEASE CHECK OUT MY INSTAGRAM PROFILE HIGHLIGHT FOR SOME PRACTICAL VIDEOS IF SOMETHING IS NOT CLEAR!

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  1. Wash the cucumbers and cut off both ends. Make sure to taste each and every single end you cut off. If it is bitter, keep cutting off bits of the cucumber until you reach no bitter :). It might happen you have a bitter cucumber as a whole, so get rid of it. PLEASE REMEMBER, ONE SINGLE BITTER CUCUMBER CAN RUIN YOUR BATCH. It happened to me.
  2. Slit halfway each cucumber at both ends, so that the brine can get through the cucumber. Do not cut any cucumbers in half, keep them whole.
  3. Get other ingredients ready: dill, peeled garlic cloves and 2 chunky slices of white sourdough bread.
  4. Stack the cucumbers in the jar, layering with dill and garlic cloves.IMG-5126.jpg
  5. Bring the filtered watered to a boil and dissolve salt.
  6. Pour boiling hot brine over the cucumbers.
  7. Place bread slices on top of the cucumbers and add more brine, making sure everything is submerged under.
  8. Cover with cheesecloth or a loose lid, that will let liquid bubble out at fermentation.
  9. Place the jar outside, in the sun.
  10. Check every day to see there is still enough brine to cover everything, if not, add more.
  11. You should see bubbles and color changes after 2 days. The brine will become cloudy and the the cucumbers change color too.
  12. It will have a pleasant sour smell. Any other bad smell means for some reason fermentation was not successful.
  13. In nice sunny weather fermentation is done in 4-5 days, after that transfer cucumbers into a clean jar, strain the brine, get rid of the dill and keep the pickles in the fridge, in the clean jar, covered in the pickling liquid.

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ENJOY!

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