Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Common causes of poor quality pickles

Today I'm going to cover some of the things that might go wrong for you! Nothing is more frustrating to opening a jar of pickles to find them all shriveled up or worse, all mushy! I remember my first canning experience after leaving home. I laugh about it now but it wasn't funny at the time! I bought cucumbers at the store and got fresh dill and made a batch of dill pickles. My mistake was I bought waxed cucumbers! They turned to a mushy, slimy mess! So hopefully this guide will help you make wonderful pickles!

Shriveled Pickles:
Shriveling may result from using to strong of vinegar, sugar or salt solution at the start of the pickling process. In making the very sweet or very sour pickles, it is best to start with a dilute solution and increase it gradually to the desired strength. Over cooking or over processing may also cause shriveling.

Hollow Pickles:
Hollowness in pickles usually results from:
  • Poorly developed cucumbers
  • Holding cucumbers to long before pickling
  • Too rapid fermentation
  • Too strong or too weak a brine during fermentation

Soft of Slippery Pickles
These usually result from microbial action which causes spoilage. (Like my waxed cukes! They rotted from the inside out due to the waxing material) Once a pickle becomes soft it can not be made firm again. These are the pickles you have to throw out! Microbial activity may be caused by:
  • To little salt or acid.
  • Cucumbers not covered with brine during fermentation.
  • Scum scattered throughout the brine during the fermentation period.
  • In sufficient heat treatment.
  • A seal that is not airtight.
  • Moldy garlic or spices
  • Blossoms if not entirely removed from cucumbers before fermentation may contain fungi or yeasts that will cause spoilage in the whole batch.

Dark Pickles
Darkness in pickles may be caused by:
  • Use of ground spices.
  • Too much spice
  • Iodized salt
  • over cooking
  • minerals in water especially iron.
  • Use of iron utensils.
May all your pickles turn out perfect!

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