Pickle connoisseurs will tell you that homemade summer pickles made with the natural lactic acid fermentation process are in a class of their own. Each year I looked forward to devour the jar of cucumbers my grandma would put in the window. It was less romantic than in one’s own porch among the geraniums, but what can apartment dwellers in Budapest do to get a bit of sun action for their cucumbers? Out they went on the window ledge. In my present life we have so many trees around the house that I was hard pressed to find a spot where the sun shines for the better part of the day. Sunshine beating down on the cucumbers is what’s needed to start the fermentation. The choice fell to our back stairs’ ledge that leads down to the backyard. There I hope the slice of light rye will do its charm to get the cucumbers started. Now if only the weather would cooperate…

*Beware; one bitter cucumber can spoil the entire jar of pickles. I had only one more left when I found a bitter one, so be diligent and taste all the ends [of what you cut off actually]. If one end is bitter, keep slicing bits off until only the sweet tasting part remains. Some cucumbers may have to be discarded altogether.

mid sized cucumbers [minimum 2, maximum 4 pounds]
2 heaping Tbsp salt
4 cups of water
4 stalks of fresh dill with heads
3-4 cloves of garlic
a thick slice of rye bread

• Add a heaping tablespoon of salt to 4 cups of water and bring to a boil.
• Let it cool for 5 minutes.
• Meanwhile wash the cucumbers, scrub them if necessary.
• Slice the ends off, making sure not to include bitter cucumbers*.
• Slice into them lengthwise in 3 places so they stay in one piece.
• Place half the dill and 2 cloves of garlic in the bottom of a clean jar.
• Layer the cucumbers standing upright.
• Add the remaining dill and garlic.
• If the jar is very large and there are more cucumbers, layer these on the top too.
• Pour the salt water over the cucumbers and top with the bread.
• Make sure the bread is wetted.
• Retain the leftover brine for topping up later.
• Cover the jar with either cheesecloth or with a saucer to keep the bugs out.
• Place in the sun for several days.
• The water will turn cloudy during fermentation.
• Make sure the cucumbers are always submerged in brine; some brine will spill over during fermentation. When it does, top it up with the saved brine.
• If the weather remains good, the cucumbers will stop fermenting in about four days.
• Test before ending the fermentation process though.
• The pickles should be pleasantly sour and not too soft, giving a little resistance when bitten into.
• Discard the bread and remove the pickles and rinse them.
• Pack them into smaller jars and cover with the sieved fermentation water.
• Pickles will keep for 3 weeks in the refrigerator.

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It began with posting a few recipes on line for my family. "zsuzsa is in the kitchen" has more than 1000 Hungarian and International recipes. What started out as a private project turned into a well visited blog. The number of visitors long passed the two million mark. I organized my recipes into an on-line cookbook. On top of the page click on the cookbook to access the recipes. I am not profiting from my blog, so my visitors will not be harassed with advertising or flashy gadgets. Feel free to cut and paste my recipes for your own use. Publication is permitted as long as it is in your own words and with your own photographs. However, I would ask you for an acknowledgement and link-back to my blog. Happy cooking!