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.
- 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)
- 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.
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.
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.