Leavened cucumbers – Kovászos uborka

by | Aug 7, 2014 | Vegetable dishes

Leavened cucumbers – the eternal summer favourite, obligatory attendant of stews and roasted meats; sunshine and warm are necessary to prepare these delicious fermented pickles. The basic recipe isn’t too complicated: all you need are cucumbers, salt, dill, water, leavened bread and a big jar.

Debate about its ideal seasoning is much larger than the dispute about the origin of the universe. There are people, who swear by the simple, natural version, and there are those, who prefer to add some spices. I belong to the latter camp, so in compliance with it the following recipe contains more ingredients than as listed above.

Leavened cucumbers – Kovászos uborka – photo: zserbo.com


  • 2,5 kg (~5 1/2 lbs) medium-sized cucumbers
  • 3 stalks of fresh dill with heads
  • a small piece of horseradish (5-6 cm / 2 inches)
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 2 tbsp salt
  • 1 slice of leavened bread (approx. 200 g ~7 oz)
  • water
  • a 5 liter jar (~10 pt)

Thoroughly wash the cucumbers, scrub them if necessary. Cut the ends off, making sure not to include bitter cucumbers. Slice into them lengthwise in both ends, so they stay in one piece.

Place the dill, horseradish and the garlic cloves in the bottom of the clean jar. Layer the cucumbers standing upright, tight to each other. Add salt. Pour water to cover the cucumbers and top with the bread (it’s recommended to wrap it in a piece of tulle). Make sure the bread is also covered with water.

Cover the jar with either a small plate or aluminium foil to keep the bugs out.

Before – photo: zserbo.com

Place the jar in a warm, but shady place (avoid direct sunlight) to let the lactic acid fermentation start. The water will turn cloudy during fermentation. It will take 3-4 days, depending on the weather, to get the cucumbers fermented.

After – photo: zserbo.com

Check its taste before ending the fermentation process. Throw away the bread, remove the cucumbers and strain the liquid. Place the cucumbers in small jars or bowls and cover them with the strained liquid. Leavened cucumbers will keep for 2 weeks in the fridge.

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  1. Szervusz! I would like recipe for winter pickles. We make delicious summer pickles like the ones in your recipe but my husband, az uborka felesoswants the other winter version that uses grape or sour cherry leaves to help keep the cucumbers crunchy. Do you have a recipe like that?
    Thank you, Julie Regos

    • Hi Julie,
      I sent you a recipe by email.

  2. what serves the bread ,i make successful pickles without any bread .

    • Bread is needed to start the fermentation.

  3. why all vegetable gets fermented without the bread ,except pickles ?

    • In Hungary we generally ferment only 3 vegetables: cabbage/sauerkraut (without bread), turnips (without bread), cucumbers (with bread). Therefore I have no experience with other veggies. If you asked 10 Hungarians, 10 would say that a slice of bread or a few slices of raw potato are needed to make fermented pickles. That’s the tradition.

  4. thanks
    the question now only remains whether adding lets say potatoe to the pickles which will kick start a fermentation ,do i gain better beneficial bacteria then regular sour pickles which acquire the probiotics of pickling which is done without fermentation but wish salt and garlic and pickling spices ,in other words one done or doesn’t interfere with the other ?by adding the potato am getting all the pickling biotic ,and adds fermenting biotic ?? and why do you prefer bread over potato ?

    • Thanks to surdough bread contains lactic acid bacteria, so if you add a slice of bread to the cucumbers, the lactic acid fermentation will start sooner.
      Those who suffer from gluten sensitivity use raw potato slices. The glucose content of potato, which is much less than bread, can also facilitate the lactic acid fermentation, however it dissolves slowlier in the brine. The taste of pickles fermented with potato is not so characteristic, rather sourish-salty, fermentation with bread provides a unique, stronger taste.

  5. so lactic acid is the name of the game ,how about using dairy which has the most of it ” or how about just supplementing the pickles with lactic acid ”
    and after all am i getting something, that plain pickles without the bread does not provide ?
    Lactic acid plays a key role in the fermentation process that produces kimchi, sauerkraut and pickled cucumbers.meaning that the actual pickling of the cucumber will get me the lactic acid as well “

    • I’ve never used dairy products and store-bought lactic acid for fermentation, therefore I can’t tell you anything about them.
      Cucumbers fermented with bread are done in 3-4 days, but they are eaten instantly, they keeps only for a few days.
      Making sauerkraut doesn’t require bread or additional lactic acid bacteria, however the duration of its fermentation lasts more than 3 weeks. But after that sauerkraut keeps for months.
      The aim of fermentation is to preserve vitamin C and other water-soluble vitamins of the plant, therefore lactic acid fermented vegetables are richer in Vitamins and minerals than plain pickles.

  6. Lactic acid plays a key role in the fermentation process that produces kimchi, sauerkraut and pickled cucumbers.so am getting the lactic acid fermentation any ways ,with or without the bread ,isent it healthier the longer slower process of lactic fermentation which is without the bread which takes 3-4 weeks

    • The result of both methods is the same, a healthy food which is full of Vitamins and minerals.

  7. would love to correspond with who ever prefer the bread method ,which rush up the fermentation ,while slower fermentation is healthier as we see in sourdough bread baking ,does anyone find any benefits as far health concerned with the bread method ??

    • Do a search on Facebook, in Hungarian Food or Hungarian family recipes groups.

  8. Thank you for the recipe!! I just made them today

Hungarian cottage cheese

This is what Hungarian túró looks like

You often ask me what kind of cottage cheese (or curd cheese or farmer's cheese - call it what you want) I use in the recipes. In Hungary the store-bought cottage cheese is dry and crumbly as you can see in the picture. So if a recipe calls for túró, I mean this type. If you can't obtain túró, you can try to make your own from whole milk. Click on the link below.

Metric system vs cup

In Hungary metric units are in use, all the recipes on this website are based on this system, so a kitchen scale is necessary. Since I’m not familiar with cup as a measurement unit, I convert grams to cups by using an online converter. The values in brackets, therefore, are only approximate volumes, so, please, double-check them before you start cooking.

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