Preparing Pickled & Fermented Foods
Last updated 6/12/2012 1:19:05 AM. Recipe ID 50250. Report a problem with this recipe.
Title: Preparing pickled & fermented foods
Categories: Canning, Information
Yield: 1 Guide
The many varieties of pickled and fermented foods are classified by
ingredients and method of preparation.
Regular dill pickles and sauerkraut are fermented and cured for about
3 weeks. Refrigerator dills are fermented for about 1 week. During
curing, colors and flavors change and acidity increases. Fresh-pack or
quick-process pickles are not fermented; some are brined several
hours or overnight, then drained and covered with vinegar and
seasonings. Fruit pickles usually are prepared by heating fruit in a
seasoned syrup acidified with either lemon juice or vinegar. Relishes
are made from chopped fruits and vegetables that are cooked with
seasonings and vinegar.
Be sure to remove and discard a 1/16-inch slice from the blossom end
of fresh cucumbers. Blossoms may contain an enzyme which causes
excessive softening of pickles.
Caution: The level of acidity in a pickled product is as important to
its safety as it is to taste and texture.
* Do not alter vinegar, food, or water proportions in a recipe or use
a vinegar with unknown acidity.
* Use only recipes with tested proportions of ingredients.
* There must be a minimum, uniform level of acid throughout the mixed
product to prevent the growth of botulinum bacteria.
Select fresh, firm fruits or vegetables free of spoilage. Measure or
weigh amounts carefully, because the proportion of fresh food to other
ingredients will affect flavor and, in many instances, safety.
Use canning or pickling salt. Noncaking material added to other salts
may make the brine cloudy. Since flake salt varies in density, it is
not recommended for making pickled and fermented foods. White
granulated and brown sugars are most often used. Corn syrup and
honey, unless called for in reliable recipes, may produce undesirable
flavors. White distilled and cider vinegars of 5 percent acidity (50
grain) are recommended. White vinegar is usually preferred when light
color is desirable, as is the case with fruits and cauliflower.
PICKLES WITH REDUCED SALT CONTENT
In the making of fresh-pack pickles, cucumbers are acidified quickly
with vinegar. Use only tested recipes formulated to produce the
proper acidity. While these pickles may be prepared safely with
reduced or no salt, their quality may be noticeably lower. Both
texture and flavor may be slightly, but noticeably, different than
expected. You may wish to make small quantities first to determine if
you like them. However, the salt used in making fermented sauerkraut
and brined pickles not only provides characteristic flavor but also
is vital to safety and texture. In fermented foods, salt favors the
growth of desirable bacteria while inhibiting the growth of others.
Caution: Do not attempt to make sauerkraut or fermented pickles by
cutting back on the salt required.
Alum may be safely used to firm fermented pickles. However, it is
unnecessary and is not included in the recipes in this publication.
Alum does not improve the firmness of quick-process pickles. The
calcium in lime definitely improves pickle firmness. Food-grade lime
may be used as a lime-water solution for soaking fresh cucumbers 12
to 24 hours before pickling them. Excess lime absorbed by the
cucumbers must be removed to make safe pickles. To remove excess
lime, drain the lime-water solution, rinse, and then resoak the
cucumbers in fresh water for 1 hour. Repeat the rinsing and soaking
steps two more times. To further improve pickle firmness, you may
process cucumber pickles for 30 minutes in water at 180 degrees F.
This process also prevents spoilage, but the water temperature should
not fall below 180 degrees F. Use a candy or jelly thermometer to
check the water temperature.
Pickle products are subject to spoilage from microorganisms,
particularly yeasts and molds, as well as enzymes that may affect
flavor, color and texture. Processing the pickles in a boiling-water
canner will prevent both of these problems. Standard canning jars and
self-sealing lids are recommended. Processing times and procedures
will vary according to food acidity and the size of food pieces.
======================================================= === * USDA
Agriculture Information Bulletin No. 539 (rev. 1994) * Meal-Master
format courtesy of Karen Mintzias
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