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Pickles And Relishes: Some Common Questions

by: Val Hillers, Ph.D. , Extension Food Specialist


Why is it recommended to process pickles in a simmering or boiling water bath?
Processing pickles in a simmering or boiling water bath controls bacteria, yeast, and mold growth.  A short processing time, combined with the acid level of the pickles, is sufficient to control these organisms.  Processing also insures a good seal on the jars.

Can I use old pickle recipes?
If you use an old pickle recipe, be certain that there is at least as much vinegar as water.

Can pickles be made without salt?
Fresh-pack pickles can be made without salt.  Fermented pickles, such as brined dill pickles or sauerkraut, cannot be made without salt.  In these products, successful fermentation depends on the presence of the correct amount of salt.

My canned pickles have a growth of mold on the top of the liquid.  Can I scrape this off and use the pickles?
Moldy canned foods should not be eaten because the mold contain harmful mycotoxins. In addition, the mold may have reduced the acid content of the pickles.

Why does sauerkraut sometimes turn pink?
This is usually due to yeast growth in the sauerkraut.  Yeast growth will cause off-odors and off-flavors.

When making brined dill pickles, do I need to measure the salt accurately?
Salt should be measured carefully.  You need just the right concentration of salt that will permit the growth of lactic acid bacteria while preventing the growth of most spoilage microorganisms.



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