Pickles no longer covered by brine

memazzSeptember 10, 2011

I made a batch of Best Bread-and-Butter Pickles from the Complete Book of Small-Batch Preserving. I followed the recipe exactly, except I only used one red pepper and skipped the green pepper the recipe called for.

Before BWB processing, the brine covered the vegetables; after processing, some cuke slices are sticking out of the brine, which has gone down by about an inch in the pint jars. The jars sealed successfully.

Did I overpack and then cause siphoning during processing?

What is a good guideline to follow for filling pickle jars to avoid this?

I think they're still safe since they sealed but would like to be sure I'm not misunderstanding comments about this that I found on other threads. Thanks for your help.

Here's the ingredients in the recipe I used:

Best Bread-and-Butter Pickles

4 lb small pickling cucumbers (sliced about 3/16 inch)

4 small onions, thinly sliced

1 sweet green pepper (I didn't add this)

I sweet red pepper, cut in thin strips

2 TB pickling salt

4 cups cider vinegar

3 cups granulated sugar

2 tbsp mustard seeds

1 tsp celery seeds

1/2 tsp tumeric

1/4 tsp ground cloves

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digdirt2(6b-7a No.Cent. AR HZ8 Sun-35)

Answer/cause depends a lot on how much liquid is left in the jars.

Siphoning is with pressure canning. With BWB, if much of the liquid is gone and much of the food is exposed, it's called "boil-over" from the food expanding and forcing liquid out of the jar if it is over-packed. Recommend loosely packing - you want each piece to have liquid contact - and be sure all the air is removed from the jar before processing.

But if only a small amount of the liquid is "missing" and only a small amount of the food is exposed it is due to either air left in the jars or "floating". Many foods float due to the air in them. As the air is exchanged for liquid the foods gradually sink.

Either way they are safe. The exposed ones may darken and can be pitched when you open the jar.


    Bookmark   September 10, 2011 at 11:19AM
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Great, thank you, Dave. It's just a small amount missing and exposed so must be an air issue. I'm still learning...

    Bookmark   September 10, 2011 at 11:59AM
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Linda_Lou(SW Wa.)

It is still called siphoning... doesn't matter if it is pressure or BWB processing.
Did you leave the jars in the canner once the processing time was over for the extra required 5 min. ? That will help with siphoning. That is probably your problem.
You take the lid off, then wait the extra 5 min.
They are still safe, though, with the top pickles exposed. I would turn them over every once in a while to keep that part in the brine, too.

    Bookmark   September 10, 2011 at 12:51PM
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Linda, I did leave them for the extra 5 minutes with the lid off, but some of them made the vacuum pop sound as soon as I lifted them out, so I may be boiling them too hard?
I'm still trying to find the sweet spot for the boil with my electric stove burners each time I can a batch of something...I'm working on getting a steady boil without letting it boil madly, which I find challenging. (I wish I had a gas stove.)

Thanks for your help.

    Bookmark   September 10, 2011 at 4:31PM
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Linda_Lou(SW Wa.)

I don't know then why you had them siphon unless they were filled too much. I figured you had removed from the canner to soon,but you did it right.
How much headspace did you leave ?
I love my gas stove !!

    Bookmark   September 10, 2011 at 11:00PM
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I left 1/2 inch headspace. Prior to processing the cukes came up to the neck of the jar (regular mouth pint) and I poured the brine over them, which covered them, and then added more to get up to the headspace point.

I just went and looked at them again--even the last jar, which has less veggies and a lot more brine has some sticking up so I bet it's the floating/air retention issue. I didn't have enough of my own cukes so bought a pound at the farmstand and they may have been older than I thought.

    Bookmark   September 11, 2011 at 7:48AM
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