Kovászos Uborka

Kovászos Uborka

Kovászos Uborka

(Hungarian Fermented Pickles)


I was introduced to these pickles when I was a kid. Katicaneni (my great aunt) used to make them from the bounty of cucumbers that came from Igancbaci’s garden. Jars would be sitting on a table in the front of the porch with tea saucers covering the top. You could see the cloves of garlic and fronds of dill in the brine. It seemed like magic when cucumbers went in and a few days later pickle came out.


As far as making them, nothing could be simpler. The recipe is easy to scale so making a small batch is as easy as making 30 quarts worth.



Garlic 4-6 cloves per quart (liter)

Dill 4-6 fronds

A piece of rye bread (optional)

Brine:  For each quart (liter) of water 2 tablespoons of salt and ½ teaspoon of sugar. Heat the water to dissolve the salt and sugar.

Prepare you cucumbers by washing them. Cut off about small amount from the two ends. Cut into quarters.

Arrange the cucumber spears on end in a jar or crock. Add garlic and dill and brine. Make sure that everything is covered by the brine. If you choose to use the bread place it on top. Cover the jar loosely with either a plate (very traditional) or by using the jar lid (I use ½ gallon Mason jars with a seal and ring). CO2 will form during fermentation and need to vent off. Leave on a table or window sill. You will see the brine get cloudy and bubbles form by day two. By day 4 they are ready to go in the fridge. They will keep 4 – 6 weeks in the fridge (if they last that long).


So what about the bread and why do I say optional? There are several theories as to why bread is used.  One is to provide nutrients for the bacteria to feed on. Another theory states that wild yeast are carried into the brine on the bread. Lastly, the bread makes sure all the cucumbers stay covered by brine. I have made these pickles successfully with and without bread. I noticed no difference. Lactobacilli are responsible for the fermentation of pickles. The specific species thrive at specific temperature ranges. The species responsible for Kovászos Uborka is happy at 65-80 degrees Fahrenheit. They will ride in on the cucumbers, dill, even from the air. Your pickles, your choice.


Finally, some thoughts on water. I am lucky to live in Connecticut with soft, good tasting reservoir water. If you have hard water or water with a lot of chemical treatment you may want to use bottled drinking water or distilled water.

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