Fermenting Pickles - Bubbles

jujubee_de(z8 WA)August 21, 2006

Hi all! I'm 15 days into making a crock of half-sour, Claussen-type pickel for the first time. I have a question about the fermenting process - how should the bubbles look when the gas phase is fully engaged? I started out with clear brine, then it turned cloudy, and now there are a few tiny bubbles clinging to the edge of the liquid inside the crock.

I guess I was expecting something more significant from the "bubbles" phase of the process? Can someone describe their experience with fermentation bubbles in pickles for me? The temperature in my basement is quite cool, so perhaps there's more to come as the fermenting is slowed a bit by the temperature?

Thanks in advance for your time - this forum has been unbelievably helpful to me over the years!

-Jujubee

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melva02(z7 VA)

Hi Jujubee, since no one else has replied, I'll give it a go. My bubbles look like yours, tiny ones on the side (I use a clear plastic pretzel barrel). I can get the bubbles to float up by nudging the jar. You are not looking for a witch's cauldron here, just some evidence that the bacteria are making gas as a byproduct of fermentation.

I have never let half-sours ferment 15 days...do you trust your recipe? I have used a regular recipe and stopped fermentation early, which Ken (ksrogers) does too, and I have used the Joy of Pickling recipe for half-sours which calls for a lot less salt and is a bit worrisome to me...I always taste those & give myself 10 days to get botulism before I let anyone else near them, even though I do mostly trust that recipe. Regular fermented pickles are usually left out at least 15 days though, especially when the environment is cool.

    Bookmark   August 22, 2006 at 1:03PM
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jujubee_de(z8 WA)

Thank you Melva for your reply. I think I was half expecting to see a witches cauldron type bubbling, it's nice to know you see the same little bubbles. The recipe I'm using is Linda Lou's "Fermented Dill Pickles - Refridgerated Claussen Type". The sequence of her recipe is:

Fermentation sequence
1. Clear brine  no cloudiness for 1 to 3 days
2. Cloudy brine with gas formation, 2-3 days
3. Cloudy brine  no gas formation, 5 to 6 days

Pickles ready to eat after 10-11 days.

Since my basement is so cool, I think the process was a bit slower. I think I'll bring the pickles up tonite and put some in the fridge and process some. Do you usually use a new finishing brine, or do you just strain the original brine?

I think I'll give myself botulism first too - is ten days enough time in general for testing? Am I going to drop-dead immediately, or get very sick first? ;-) I expect to try my stuff first, before ever giving it to someone else.

Thanks again for the reply!

-Jujubee

    Bookmark   August 22, 2006 at 2:08PM
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ksrogers(EasternMass Z6)

Half sours are only at room temps for about 2 days, then get refrigerated. I have posted numerous threads about the much shorter time for doing half sours compared to a ful fermented pickle. Claussen type half sours are only left at room temp for about 2-3 days. A small amount of vinegar is added once refrigerated. This helps to halt the fermentation and adds a bit of mold protection to boot.

    Bookmark   August 22, 2006 at 2:33PM
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jimster(z7a MA)

"Since my basement is so cool, I think the process was a bit slower."

Rate of fermentation is definitely affected by temperature.

Jim

    Bookmark   August 22, 2006 at 3:08PM
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jujubee_de(z8 WA)

Ken, I followed Linda Lou's recipe very carefully, here it is for your review...

-------------------------------
Fermented Dill Pickles  Refrigerated "Clausen" Type

1 Gallon Jar
Pickling Cucumbers
12 Fresh Dill Flower heads, or
2 Tbsp Dried dill weed and
2 Tbsp. Dried dill seed
10 to 12 Cloves Garlic
6 to 8 Peppercorns
1/4 Cup Vinegar
1/2 Cup Salt
1 1/2 Quarts Water

In 1 gallon jar add pickling cucumbers Rinse but do not wash the cucumbers. Add Dill
flower heads or dried dill weed and seed, garlic, peppercorns, and vinegar. Dissolve
salt in water and add to jar. Fill jar the remaining way with water. Add weight to
keep cucumbers under brine.

Fermentation sequence
1. Clear brine  no cloudiness for 1 to 3 days
2. Cloudy brine with gas formation, 2-3 days
3. Cloudy brine  no gas formation, 5 to 6 days

Pickles ready to eat after 10-11 days.
Refrigerate pickles if you do not want to process them.

To process the pickles
Fill clean, sterilized quart jars with pickles to within 1/2inch of the top. Wipe,
seal, and process in a hot water bath for 15 minutes. Remove and place on towel in a
draft free area. Let jars stand for 12 hours. Label and date. Store in a dark, cool
area.
-------------------------------

You can see that there was a tad bit of vinegar added to the brine at the beginning to help prevent bad things (that's as technical as I can get there!). Do you think the extra few days my pickles have been unrefridgerated is too risky? I value your opinion here.

Thanks Jim for the confirmation that temperature does affect the rate of fermentation. Logic tells me that, but now I wonder if the extra days beyond the timetable of the recipe has deemed the result unsafe?

I also just thought of something that I did that may have affected the results - I tripled the recipe to fit my large crock! I know this isn't a good idea for cooking jams, etc. but I assumed it wouldn't matter in a cool fermentation sequence. Can anyone tell me otherwise?!

-Jujubee

    Bookmark   August 22, 2006 at 4:08PM
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jimster(z7a MA)

I don't believe there is any safety issue here. I think the rate or degree of fermentation is strictly a matter of taste. Sampling a pickle to see if it is at the desired stage is an easy way to tell. In the mean time, I will look for a chart I seem to recall which correlates temperature with days of fermentation required. That may give you more confidence in what you are doing. But if they look good, smell good and taste good, they are good.

Jim

    Bookmark   August 22, 2006 at 4:46PM
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melva02(z7 VA)

Jujubee, I agree with Jim. The fermentation sequence is the part that matters, the days are just a guideline. When they're ready, they're ready. These will probably be more like sour pickles than half sours. Half sours are bright green & still taste kind of like cucumbers, they're my favorite. I didn't process mine, so I can't tell you about using new brine...search for another thread, I know there was one pretty recently with lots of advice. I keep mine in the fridge and they last up to a year, but I would advise putting them in smaller jars in case a jar gets mold on it.

The signs of botulism are droopy eyes, weakness, and shortness of breath. Botulin is a nerve toxin that makes your muscles not work, so go to the hospital if you think you have it, and tell them you ate something funny. But you won't get it if you followed that recipe, the vinegar makes it extra safe. Enjoy!

Melissa

    Bookmark   August 22, 2006 at 6:05PM
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Linda_Lou(SW Wa.)

I have been so busy, no time to reply. It won't give you botulism, you want to check to see if the pickles inside are translucent.
They don't bubble that much. As it says, about 10 days is average time to be done. I think the original brine would be best, just strain it, if the cloudiness won't bother you.

Here is a sequence...
Color changes from bright green to olive or
yellow green and white interior becomes translucent.

    Bookmark   August 22, 2006 at 6:14PM
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jujubee_de(z8 WA)

Thank you all for the help here. I was intending for half-sour pickles, but will settle for full-sours if I let them go too long. I can't wait to try them out tonite!

I'm going to keep as many as I can fit in the fridge, and process the rest.

-Jujubee

    Bookmark   August 22, 2006 at 6:21PM
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jujubee_de(z8 WA)

WOW! those pickles are FANTASTIC! They smelled great, and they tasted exactly like the Claussen pickles you buy at the store! They're supremely crunchy and fresh tasting! I wanted so badly not to process these, so I spent an hour rearranging the fridge last night to make enough room!

Thanks everyone for your help - I always learn new things reading this forum!

-Jujubee

    Bookmark   August 23, 2006 at 11:57AM
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david52_gw

A few years ago on this forum, there was someone from Germany who mentioned inoculating pickles with Kefir starter. Kefir is a lacto-bacteria similar to the ones that make yogurt, and I thought I'd give it a try.

I've used it now with fermenting cabbage, hot peppers, cucumbers, and mixed veggie pickles, and it's certainly given some of the best pickles I've ever made. My Hatch roasted green chili sauce, fermented for 6 weeks, is becoming the stuff of local legend. The result is fizzy, peppery, just wonderful. The frizziness goes away, of course, when sterilized and canned.

    Bookmark   August 23, 2006 at 8:47PM
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jimster(z7a MA)

Jujubee,

Thanks for the vicarious enjoyment your reports have provided. I, for one, am delighted that your results are so good.

David,

That's very, very interesting. I've thought about using yogurt or buttermilk, which also have lactobacillus I believe, as innoculents for fermented veggies but haven't gotten around to it. Your experience encourages me to do it. Have you seen the recent thread in the Hot Pepper forum regarding fermentation. I think members over there would like you to share your knowledge of chile fermentation.

Jim

    Bookmark   August 23, 2006 at 9:02PM
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ksrogers(EasternMass Z6)

You have to keep in mind that Lind Lou's FERMENTED pickles, are totally different than the Claussen style HALF SOUR pickles I always describe. Yes, they both use a salt brine, but the half sours only see a couple of days of fermentation at room temp, whereas the fully FERMENTED pickles take weeks, and bubble. In the half sours, a small amount of vinegar is added prior to refrigeration. These usually need a couple of weeks in the fridge to develop the full HALF SOUR flavor .

    Bookmark   August 23, 2006 at 11:02PM
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Linda_Lou(SW Wa.)

What Ken is describing, fermenting for a couple days is what the USDA/university extension has listed as refrigerator pickles.

Glad the pickles are so good, Jujubee !!

    Bookmark   August 24, 2006 at 12:01AM
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jujubee_de(z8 WA)

Ken, I did notice your recipe in another thread, and I'm going to try that method next. I like the idea that they only sit out for two days before vinegar is added and they're refridgerated. I'm going to pick up more pickling cukes this weekend before the local farm gets down to the end of their harvest. I don't exactly know what my family will think when the entire fridge is full of pickles, but we've got four adults and a baby here and everyone is always a good sport with me around harvest and canning season.

Jim, I'm a relative newbie at this stuff, having only gardened and put up food for about 4 years now. It has taken some time to accumulate the various tools and cookware necessary to work efficiently, and a few lucky garage sales scored me enough quart jars to last a lifetime. This year I only had to buy new lids and I was all set. It still absolutely thrills me when a new recipe works out, and when in the dead of winter we're enjoying the bounty of our hard work!

This truly is a fascinating art to me. I grew up a total city girl and then married a country boy who's taught me all his grandma taught him. Now that I've been here on GW for a while, I teach him a few things.

You folks are the fuel to my fire!

-Jujubee (who's clearly very chatty this evening)

    Bookmark   August 24, 2006 at 12:01AM
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ksrogers(EasternMass Z6)

The last batch of the half sours were made with part of a package of the pickle mixes from Ball or Mrs. Wages. These have a bit more dill flavor compared to just adding fresh dill and garlic. I still have to taste the brine as I add the pickle mix (mostly salt) to the water, to get that very necessary 'water in the mouth' flavor. The vinegar is only a tablespoon or two in a half gallon of packed pickles. I now have two half gallon jars in the fridge, and both were made about a month ago.

    Bookmark   August 24, 2006 at 3:38PM
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readinglady(z8 OR)

David, that mention of Kefir starter is really intriguing. I have seen Sauerkraut recipes that use buttermilk but haven't tried it yet myself.

Carol

    Bookmark   August 24, 2006 at 5:13PM
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lyndy99

Hi Folks
I wonder if someone can help me out. I am in the process of fermenting Dills in quart sealers.( three weeks at 65 degrees. One jar the cloudiness has not settled and the brine is more of a whiter cloudiness I checked and one of the garlic had a fuzzy mold on it. It floated above the brine. I took a spoon to take it out and noticed that the brine is very slightly thicker not quite syrupy but not like regular brine. One other jar the brine did not settle as well as the rest and checked its liquid and it too is slightly thicker. No off odour or anything. But it is to weird for me. Has this happened to anyone else yet? and what is going on to change the thickness of the brine.

Thanks in advance

Lyndy

    Bookmark   September 28, 2006 at 5:40PM
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