Cloudy pickles

duajones(z9 TX)November 12, 2007

I have been making refrigerator pickles for a while now and for some reason the liquid is cloudy. In a typical quart recipe, I use

2/3 to 3/4 cup white distilled vinegar

1 to 1 1/2 TBSP pickling salt (ball or mortons)

1 to 4 TBSP sugar

combination of different spices including

black peppercorns

mustard seed

celery seed

pickling spice

red pepper flakes

dill seed on occasion

distilled water

I bring these ingredients to a boil stirring consistently, then let simmer for 5 minutes.

I add to the sterilized jar

sliced cukes

fresh garlic and sometimes dehydrated minced onion and fresh dill in layers. Then I add 1 1/2 tsp pickle crisp before adding pouring in the liquid. Then I add distilled water to within a half inch of the top. Gently spin jar to get rid of air bubbles, then put the lid on. Then I let it set at room temp for an hour or so, then into the fridge.

The pickles have been good, just wondering why they are cloudy.

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dgkritch(Z8 OR)

Are you trimming off the blossom end? It contains an enzyme that can cause cloudiness.

You don't say what the ratio of vinegar to water is, but that really shouldn't make any difference for cloudiness.

I have the same thing happen.......sometimes.....which is the hard part for determining the cause. Sounds like they're safe though (as long as the vinegar/water ratio is 50/50 or more vinegar).

Sorry, not much help. Hopefully someone else will jump in.


    Bookmark   November 12, 2007 at 6:44PM
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duajones(z9 TX)

Forgot to add that I also add tumeric to the vinegar solution. Deanna, I am using sliced cukes with no ends at all, and the overall amount of liquid is 1 cup and1/3 roughly.

    Bookmark   November 12, 2007 at 7:27PM
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digdirt2(6b-7a No.Cent. AR HZ8 Sun-35)

Several possible causes of cloudy pickles according to the power canners ;) - using table salt instead of canning salt, hard water, aluminum pots, yeast growth from contamination. It looks like you have most of them covered except the possible contamination. Old cukes, old spices, waxed store bought cukes are other possibilities.

Either way, it's not right so I'd be inclined to pitch them.


    Bookmark   November 12, 2007 at 11:06PM
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jimster(z7a MA)

You say the pickles are good, just cloudy.

Cloudiness can be from yeast in the brine, not necessarily a bad thing so long as the pickles smell and taste good and remain firm. If the pickles are soft, that is from bacterial spoilage and is not a good thing.


    Bookmark   November 13, 2007 at 12:02AM
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readinglady(z8 OR)

If the pickles are mushy or there are off-odors, they should be discarded. If they're crisp and smell fine, the likelihood is a harmless cause like hard water and the pickles should be safe to eat. If you're using tap water, in future boil the water, let it sit overnight, pour off the top portion and pickle with that.


    Bookmark   November 13, 2007 at 12:05AM
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I don't think I've solved your cloudy problem, but I have learned that the herb is tuRmeric .... I've been spelling it wrong all this time ...

I looked it up because that is the only powdered spice you're using. I do not use it because I don't like the yellow color it gives my pickles. But, I seem to recall reading somewhere (thought it was Joy of Pickling) but can't I cant locate any such info so my shortterm memory may be off kilter.

I checked the Ball complete book and they have several recipes for refrigerator pickles ... the only thing you're doing differently is putting the lid on and allowing to cool in jar. All of the recipes from Ball say to pour the hot brine over cukes, cover with waxed paper and let cool 30 minutes and then pack. Don't know why that would make a difference....

I get the impression that this is happening every time you make the pickles....(or was it just one batch?) When do you first see the cloudiness?

Tis a mystery!!!

    Bookmark   November 13, 2007 at 1:14AM
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duajones(z9 TX)

I am using distilled water so we can rule out hard water. I dont remember every batch being cloudy (30 plus quarts so far) but it does seem like the cloudier batches have been the ones where I used Ball pickling salt versus the Mortons. The pickles have been good and havent made anyone sick. They are usually very crisp and tasty.
I have been using a coated pan, not sure if it is aluminum or not, maybe that is where the problem lies.

    Bookmark   November 13, 2007 at 10:08AM
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ksrogers(EasternMass Z6)

The brine should be thoroughly mixed before adding to the jars. REfrigerator pickles do not benefit by adding so much Pickle Crisp. Usually only a half teaspoon or a teaspoon is sufficient. Any more than that, and the cloudiness can occur. The vinegar salt and water are not in the right proportions for refrigerator pickles. There are many recent posts about these and you usualy make a refrigerator type by first allow them to cure in a salt brine at room temperature. After a few days, the vinegar is added to slow that fermentation process down. I do not add sugar to mine. I also use a pickle mix from Mrs. Wages or Ball for most of the flavoring. Even the refrigerator type Claussen has a bit of cloudiness.

    Bookmark   November 13, 2007 at 10:22AM
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duajones(z9 TX)

"The vinegar salt and water are not in the right proportions for refrigerator pickles"

What are the correct proportions? I usually make just a quart at a time.

    Bookmark   November 13, 2007 at 10:34AM
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"coated pan" -- coated with what???

Ken is referring to a partially fermented pickle -- the very kind that was withdrawn by the USDA years ago because of listeria growth during the room temp curing. After recent testing NCHFP declined to recommend this type of pickle pending further testing.

But you are making a true refrigerator pickle -- acidification not fermentation.

here's the proportions for Ball recipe for refrigerated dill slices (makes 2 1/2 quarts.

8 1/4 cups sliced trimmed pickling cukes
2 cups white vinegar
2 cups water
6 tbsps pickling salt
1/4 cup granulated sugar
dried herbs and spices to taste
5 cloves garlic, halved (optional)

As you see the water/vinegar ratio is 50/50 ... but the water is added to the boiled syrup. your ratio seems to be more vinegary which is okay if you like the taste ...

Lucky you to have suitable pickling cukes this time of year ... With our drought I couldn't get many good cukes this year and it's going to be a long, pickle-deprived winter for me.


    Bookmark   November 13, 2007 at 12:19PM
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duajones(z9 TX)

its an aluminum pan that is coated with something, im not sure what.
I usually add some distilled water to the vinegar solution before boiling, then top it off with more as needed.
I had a great year growing cukes this year, made my first 20 or so quarts using county fair. Lately I have been using store bought cukes, pickling when I can find them pretty fresh, or hot house cukes which have worked ok as well.

    Bookmark   November 13, 2007 at 12:29PM
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is the coating dark (non-stick or anodized)
or light (silverstone or cast aluminum)
... or maybe porcelain enamel? (although most p enamel is over steel)
If we can pin down the coating (or the maker)we could visit the cookware forum and ask if anyone knows how the various coating react with vinegar.

whatever, if you have another pot -- stainless preferred -- give that a try. And try one batch without the tumeric.

word of caution: do not let the ratio go below 50% vinegar... I keep a cooled jar of 50/50 mix on hand when packing so I know it's consistent


    Bookmark   November 13, 2007 at 1:37PM
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duajones(z9 TX)

the coating is dark. I plan to pick up a small stainless pan and make another batch tomorrow.
I made a batch for a buddy a couple weeks back that didnt have any tumeric in it. I called him today and he said it isnt cloudy at all. Used Mortons in that batch with everything else like mentioned above including 3/4 cup vinegar.

    Bookmark   November 13, 2007 at 1:46PM
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ksrogers(EasternMass Z6)

As mentioned previously, I always add vinegar to my half sours, and they have enough salt to kill virtually any listeria possible. If it were unsafe to make these, then the many of thousands that do make half sours, including those sold in delli's, as well as Claussen would be banned. I still feel that 1 1/2 teaspoons of Pickle Crisp is way too much for a single quart jar. This calcium chloride product does not always dissolove and become crystal clear like pure pickling salt. I make my brines in stainless. The ONLY pan I have that is aluminium is my steamer and my teflon coated frypan. All my mixing bowls are also stainless steel. A fully fermented pickle could have more vinegar and is placed in the fridge immediately after filling the jars. Even for that, the brine for them does not need boiling or heating of any kind. Last fall at Big Lots, I had purchased several packets of BALL BRAND "Chill Dill Mix". These are small packets able to make up to a half gallon of refrigerator pickles per packet. Never saw these packets sold anywhere else. The packets contain the necessary salt, spices, tumeric, garlic, onion, and other natural flavors. The instructions are as follows: Pack the vegetables in a half gallon non reactive jar. Mix the flavor packet, 2TBS sugar, 1C water, 1 1/2 cups vinegar, to dissolve the salt, in a non reactive bowl. Pour the brine mixture into the jar to cover the vegetables, cover the jar, and place in the fridge. It also mentions to stir or agitate the jar occaisonally to mix the spices. Wait a week before eating.
Nothing more simple than that.. These Ball packets cost me only .49 cents each, and I used one recently in my half sours. I haven't ever gotten sick on any of my half sours, no matter what listeria scares are supposed to do to you.. Pickling salt is always important to use, as it contains no other additives that could cause it to cloud up. Morton, unless it speciically states its pickling salt on the package, could have things like iodine, or anti-caking things like silicone dioxide.

    Bookmark   November 13, 2007 at 2:18PM
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duajones(z9 TX)

Thanks for the response, much appreciated. Looks like possibly the Pickle Crisp or possibly the turmeric ( I increased the amount from 1/4 tsp to 1/2 tsp for these last 3 batches) may have caused the cloudiness. I have used strictly the mortons and ball brand pickling salt so thats not an issue.
In a quart sized jar packed with cukes, garlic etc. it takes about 1 1/3 cup of liquid to fill the jar. 2/3 to 3\4 cup vinegar plus enough distilled water to fill is how I have been doing it. That falls in the 50/50 ration so I should be ok, correct?
And as long as their is no odor, pickles arent slimy or mushy, they should be ok to eat?

    Bookmark   November 13, 2007 at 2:54PM
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I got sidetracked this afternoon picking up my grandson at school, but I am very interested in this subject as I am a pickle lover from way back, but am very, very, very picky about my pickles. At this point in time, refrigerator pickles most closely satisfy my taste buds, but I still have a lot of questions regarding safety.

You ask: "And as long as their is no odor, pickles arent slimy or mushy, they should be ok to eat?"

Unless your cukes were way past their prime, I am going to go out on a limb and say I can find no safety issues in your procedures. I do think you should pour the hot syrup/brine over the cukes, cover and let cool before packing. (Ball procedure) Of course you'll refrigerate immediately after packing.

So what causes the cloudiness? Is it the pot? Is it the tumeric? Is it the pickle crisp? I do not know but I haven't left the field of inquiry. Back to you when I have more info

    Bookmark   November 13, 2007 at 8:28PM
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ksrogers(EasternMass Z6)

The BALL recipe on the BALL refrigerator pickles packets stated that NO BOILING is needed for a refrigerator pickle brine. Make and mix the brine and add it after filling the jars with vegetables. Never add more water or vinegar or salt afterwards as it throws off the balance. Make enough brine to cover the vegetables in the jar(s).

    Bookmark   November 13, 2007 at 8:42PM
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duajones(z9 TX)

I made a batch today using a new stainless pot. I boiled the vinegar and spices and then added the distilled water and stirred well. I added just a pinch of turmeric this time as I noted that I used more in the last 3 batches.I also used 1/2 tsp pickle crisp versus 1 1/2. Right now, the jar of pickles is clear and looks great.
After reading the last couple post I will have to try pouring the brine over the pickles and let cool before packing, and not boiling at all as Ks suggests. It appears that I am lucky to not have made anyone sick with my previous recipes and as many as I have made you would think otherwise. I really do appreciate the responses and effort from those willing to help a newbie.

    Bookmark   November 13, 2007 at 11:01PM
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ksrogers(EasternMass Z6)

There is NO HEAT or BOILING needed for the brine. Its made at room temperature, with room temperature ingredients, dissolved at rooom temperature and poured into the packed rom temperature jars at room temperature. NO heat of any kind is needed for a refrigerator pickle or its brine. Once the jars are filled, they get placed in the fridge, with no heat processing or any other heat related methods used.

    Bookmark   November 14, 2007 at 11:51AM
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Ken, that's your way you choose to do it. It's not the way Ball complete book recommends. If she chooses to use the Ball packets you mention she may want to do as you do.
As for me, I'm altering my techniques to those recommended by Ball.

    Bookmark   November 14, 2007 at 1:57PM
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duajones(z9 TX)

I plan to try several variations until I come up with something that is working for me. I am a HE by the way.


    Bookmark   November 14, 2007 at 7:21PM
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ksrogers(EasternMass Z6)

Verbatum, as I read from the BALL PACKETS of CHILL DILL pickle mixes, which are meant ONLY for making a REFRIGERATOR PICKLE. The instructions on these BALL packets were stated above, and had absolutely no mention of any boiling brines or heating anything to make a refrigerator pickle. You cannot just quote from a Ball Blue Book or other recipe book and say that its the only way to do something, especially if there is also conflicting instructions by the SAME EXACT BALL company, and on one of their mixes. I still insist that absolutely no boiling or heating of a brine is required when making a batch of refrigerator pickles. The reason is quite simple, heat will break down the cukes and other vegetables, and tends to cause softening of the vegetables. Starting out with a brine that is made at room temps and added to packed jars at room temps, makes for a crisper pickle, if its headed directly for the fridge.. Obviously your way may not be the same way that others make refrigeratar pickles, but for many years, even my half sours have never seen any heat whatsoever, and they are just fine every time.

Sorry Kay, its not MY way, its the way BALL instructs the person to make these refrigerator pickles, its quoted from their packets of CHILL DILL MIXES. I for one trust their judgement on this one. Even for that, these mixes contain no preservatives of any kind. If you don't believe me, I can photograph the package and post it here if you like, just to prove to you that I am not making this up, nor is this MY way to make a refrigerator pickle. You can make a pickle any way you choose, but to say that my way is wrong or incorrect, isn't whats at stake here, its different METHODS involved in achieving the same end results. A simple, pickle...

    Bookmark   November 14, 2007 at 8:08PM
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Sorry duane ... my xray vision wasn't working ...

have you considered freezer pickles? they're sweet, but I love 'em.

    Bookmark   November 14, 2007 at 10:53PM
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duajones(z9 TX)

I hate it when my xray vision isnt working so I know what you mean.....LOL
I would like to try the freezer pickles, and while I am not fond of a sweet pickle, I have many friends that are.

    Bookmark   November 15, 2007 at 12:00AM
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I've used this recipe for years ... there are quite a few variations out there ... dill and garlic, hot peppers cumin and cilantro, etc.
You'll be surprised how crisp the veggies become. The sugar-vinegar brine keeps 'em from turning to mush in the freezer. Sometimes I use my mandoline to slice the cukes, sometimes I hand slice 'em thicker. They're best if eaten within a week or so of thawing.

Freezer Sweet Pickles
Makes 4 pints

7 cups unpeeled cucumbers sliced thin
1 cup onions sliced thin
1 cup red bell peppers sliced thin
1 tbsp kosher salt
1 1/2 cups white vinegar
2 cups sugar
1 teaspoon celery seeds

Sprinkle salt over sliced cucumbers; let sit one hour and then drain.
Make syrup with vinegar, sugar and celery seed. Bring to boil till sugar is dissolved. Cover and let cool.
Mix cukes with onions and pepper, Put vegetables into sterile jars and fill with syrup. Freeze.
Can thaw and eat after 24 hours.

    Bookmark   November 15, 2007 at 8:50AM
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ksrogers(EasternMass Z6)

When I used to make wines and carboated wines, I used the traditional method of removing the sediment by fliping the bottoles on their tops and allowing the sediment to settle in the caps. To remove it, the bottles were placed in the freezer to freeze the area around the neck and cap. It was very difficult to know when they were frozen enough to uncap and remove the frozen slug of sediment. I accidentally left a batch in the freezer too long and they all exploded. It was due to expansion of the liquid once it was frozen. You can imagine the mess it made, and all the time waste when it was a total loss. Never will I ever place any glass jar of any kind in my freezer for any reason. I just am too concerned about it cracking.

    Bookmark   November 15, 2007 at 11:44AM
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Sorry, I should have mentioned that use the Ball Freeze/Can pint jars and leave at least 1/2 inch headspace to allow for expansion. Ball makes a plastic half-pint "jar" but they're rather expensive. You can certainly use other plastic containers. --Kay

    Bookmark   November 15, 2007 at 2:24PM
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