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10.10.12

HUNGARIAN WATER PICKLES - VIZES UBORKA


Crunch and Yum! Holy Cow these are good pickles, just like my grandma used to make them. The only problem is… I haven’t figured out how to preserve them for winter. Grandma put down 72 bottles every summer that went cloudy and then cleared up and stayed clear until we finished the last bottle sometimes in late January. I only made 2 bottles, because I have limited room in my fridge and could not figure it out how to preserve these pickles. Consequently, my pickle juice remained stubbornly cloudy, which was the sign of continued bacterial activity. Finally I put a stop to the fermentation after 5 weeks; by then the pickles tasted great. I boiled the brine to kill the bacteria, let it cool down and then poured it back into the bottles. I am not sure what grandma used, she added something to her bottles before she covered them, but I cannot remember what that was. I read in various recipes to use szalicil, timsó, borkénpor, borkősav, borkén and even aspirin. I am sure there are equivalents to these products here in Canada, but since I am not a chemist and Google translation is quite useless when it comes to the finer points of Hungarian to English translation, I have no way of determining what would be a safe substitution for any these products. Besides the Internet is a confusing place when it comes to recipes, people call dishes by the wrong name all of the time. I often get responses from readers writing how their mom or auntie used to prepare a particular dish differently, which often has no relation to the dish I just posted.
 
This I know. Vizes uborka is made with water, salt, tiny pickling cucumbers, slices of fresh horseradish and maybe a few spices. There is no vinegar, no sugar in it whatsoever, which is why they are called “vizes” or water pickles. With only half a bottle left I thought I better take a photo of these pickles. I made several different pickles this last summer, the kosher pickles and these water pickles by far were my favourites. Of course I have to store them in the fridge which poses restrictions.
 
Naturally fermented pickles are healthy probiotic foods. Vinegar brined pickles, because they don’t ferment, have no real food value other than they taste good. Now if I could just figure out how to preserve these wonderful fermented pickles for at least six months – would that not be great? That would be a discovery I did not have since I figured out how to make turó.
 
For each bottle use: 1 jar worth of tiny pickling cucumbers
5 cups water
2 tsp pickling salt
2 garlic cloves
2 heads of fresh dill
2 slices of fresh horseradish
 
• Select healthy blemish free, freshly picked pickling cucumbers.
• Cut off the blossom ends and wash them well.
• Place the prepared cucumbers in a large mixing bowl.
• Cook the salt brine next.
• Estimate how many jars can be filled with cucumbers.
• For each bottle pour 5 cups of water into a dutch pot.
• Place the pot on the stove to boil.
• Add pickling salt to the water bit by bit and stir to dissolve it. Taste it, if it is too salty add some more water. If it needs more salt, add more to the pot. Aim for a pleasantly salty brine. I used about 2 tsp of pickling salt for every 5 cups of water.
• Bring the brine to a boil.
• Pour the hot brine over the cucumbers and let it cool down.
• Put the brine back in the dutch pot and bring it to the boil again.
• Remove from heat and let it cool down completely.
• Meanwhile wash the dill and set it aside.
• Peel the horseradish and the garlic cloves.
• Cut the horseradish lengthwise into long strips; about 1/2 inch in diameter.
• Pack 2 cloves of garlic and 2 heads of dills into each bottle.
• Arrange the cucumbers in an upright fashion in two rows. If there is no room for two rows, your cucumbers are too large. In that case, slice them into halves or quarters.
• When the brine is at room temperature, pour it over the cucumbers and be mindful to cover them with brine.
• Cover the jars with a square of parchment paper and fasten them with an elastic band. • Place the remaining brine in a clean jar, cover, and set it aside for use later.
• As the cucumbers ferment, you will have to top off the jars with the reserved brine. If you run out of brine, you can top them up with cold sterilized water. The important thing is to keep the cucumbers submerged.
• The pickles will be ready between 4-6 weeks.
• Taste the pickles periodically and when it’s to you liking, pour the brine into a pot.
• Bring it to a boil, remove from heat and set it aside to cool down to room temperature.
• Meanwhile repack the pickles into clean sterilized jars.
• Pour the brine over the pickles, put on a lid and a screw cap.
• Refrigerate, these pickles should last for six months.
 

6 comments:

  1. Zsuzsa, your cucumbers look perfect! It's funny that they are called "water cucumbers", but logical.
    As I told you one day, I cannot find good cucumbers to ferment (the only man who sells this variety on the market adds too much fertiliser and then doesn't wait long enough before selling them... so they simply stink,get spoilt and can be vinegared only), but I have found both on internet and through my mum's advice only one method: you let the cucumbers to ferment for a couple of days (4-5) in clean jars, as if you were doing for short-term cucumbers (covered but not tightly), then you uncover to et the gaz out, you put on the the definitive lids and you pasteurise the jars in order to stop the fermentation. The only way to preserve them for longer is to stop fermentation.
    I have also seen comments on internet saying that if you use herbs or spices, they should be washed with boiling water (in Poland people always use dill flowers for example). I hope this method works. Good luck! (But since I have never tested it, please try not too many jars... just in case).

    ReplyDelete
  2. Thank you Sissi for noticing I put dill weed in the ingredients' list, it has been corrected.

    I agree with your mom, without some magical preservative element the bottles would have to be processed, but this would make the pickles too soft and the charm of them is the crunchy texture. My hope is to find out what my grandmother may have used and finding its equivalent in Canada. A tall order I know but one never knows... I could get lucky.

    Regarding the state of the cucumbers, they have to be done the same day they are picked. If the cucumbers are dull, they will not make good pickles. Freshly picked cucumbers have a shine and are bright green.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. how big do you like your pickles?

      Delete
  3. I just start experimenting with cucumber. I read Hungarian and English recipes. I have the answer for the preservation of vizes uborka. Some use added preserves like natrium benzoat. And some uses heat. I will try the latter one.
    If the vizes uborka is fermented and ready. Pour its brine to a pot and boil it. Pour the hot brine back to the pickles, seal them and turn them upside down to allow the hot brine to kill all bacteraia. Some people play it safe and boil the brine second time when after it cooled to warm.
    I hope it helps.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Thanks for the tip. I wonder if a wine shop would carry natrium benzonate. I will check it out.

    ReplyDelete

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