Summer Pickles (Vizes uborka)

Fermenting vegetables is an ancient Hungarian custom which was brought over from Asia. Although vinegar pickling is also very common, particularly for pickles put away for the winter months, natural fermentation - which scientists generally call the milk-acid type - produces a much more natural-tasting relish. When one considers how easy this is to do and the vast difference between the commercial and the homemade article, it is difficult to understand why this natural pickling is not a more common practice.

Wash cucumbers thoroughly; sometimes you even have to scrub them with a brush. Dry with toweling. Cut off both ends. Make a lengthwise incision in the center of each cucumber, then make a quarter turn and do the same. This way you have a crosscut so liquid can penetrate the inside. Be sure not to cut closer than 1 inch from the ends so the cucumber will not fall apart. Do this with the rest of the cucumbers.

Place half of the dill in the bottom of a 1-gallon jar. Add 1 garlic clove.

Stand the cucumbers on end in the bottom of the jar. Fit them in as tightly as you can. After you have done one layer, add the rest of the dill and garlic and continue with the tight packing of the cucumbers.

Boil 4 quarts water with the slat. Caution: Stand the pickle jar in hot water to prevent cracking. Pour the hot water and salt over the pickles. Sprinkle flour on top and cover with the slice of bread. Cover the top with a lid, or tightly wrap a moistened cloth around the jar top.

Put the jar in the sun or in a warm place for 4-5 days. Moisten the cloth every morning and every noon. The aroma of the fermenting vegetables is pungent. If you do this inside, use the lid rather than the cloth, but cover the jar loosely. It is better to let the pickle ferment in a sunny place of a yard or garden. By that time the pickles should be what is generally referred to as "semi-sour".

Remove everything from the jar. Strain the pickle juice. Put the pickles in the jar again and pour the strained juice over them. After this, store the pickles under refrigeration.

From: The Cuisine of Hungary by George Lang.

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