It’s a Hungarian tradition to make these summer pickles in the heat of the summer when the gardens are overflowing. This recipe is one that was passed down from his parents.
Hungarian Summer pickles, or Kovászos uborka, are made in a very different way compared to traditional pickles. A few simple ingredients and a couple magic steps are required to make these.
Growing up, every summer Charles’ family had a jar of these dill gherkin pickles on the deck. With a garden full of cucumbers, there was never a meal during the summer that got served without these pickles. When we visited Hungary I grew to appreciate just how important pickles were to the culture. Literally, pickles were served at every single meal. Back in the day, Charles’ dad would usually catch him drinking the brine straight out of the jar: clearly some things never change!
Now, here’s the deal. Don’t expect the same flavour as a dill pickle you would find in the store. These pickles do not have vinegar and are fermented with the help of the sourdough bread. Don’t be put off by the cloudy appearance of the brine: it is normal!
How to Make Hungarian Summer Pickles
- Wash, prick and trim the ends off of pickling cucumbers.
- Place the cucumbers in a large jar with garlic and dill.
- Make a simple brine and pour over the cucumbers to cover.
- Place sourdough bread and extra dill on top of the cucumbers and cover with a plate.
- Set the covered jar in a sunny place outside for 3-5 days.
With Charles’ strong Hungarian roots we are constantly remaking versions of his childhood favourites. It’s our favourite thing to do together. If you want to make an impressive classic Hungarian dish try this Chicken Paprikash (so good with the homemade noodles). Next up for the holidays is Lángos, a fried potato dough that I’ve made before and it is divine! Charles has been asking me to make Szilvás gombóc, plum dumplings: it’s on my list for this fall when the plums are ripe.
Hungarian Summer Pickles
These summer pickles are a Hungarian staple in the hotter months of the year.
- 4 pounds small to medium pickling cucumbers
- 4 cloves garlic, peeled
- 2 litres water
- 2 1/2 tablespoons kosher salt
- 1 bunch dill
- 1-2 slices sourdough bread
Wash the cucumbers and cut off the ends. Puncture them lightly with a fork in several places and transfer the cucumbers, garlic cloves and half of the dill to a 3 litre jar.
In a large pot, bring the water and salt to a boil. Remove from the heat, stir, and cool slightly before pouring over the cucumbers and adding the remaining dill. Place the bread gently on top of the cucumbers so it is touching the cucumbers and brine (but not pushed down), cover the jar with a plate and put in a warm sunny place for 3 to 5 days. Transfer the jar to a sunny place through the day if possible. The brine will be cloudy.
The pickles will be ready to eat when they turn a slightly yellow. Remove and discard the bread and dill, strain the pickles and garlic and transfer to a clean jar. Pour the strained brine over the pickles and store covered in the refrigerator for up to 3 weeks.
Recipe is based off of the Dill Gherkin recipe in Ilona Horváth’s The Traditional Hungarian Kitchen.