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Fermenting Pickles Question

Posted by breasley 7 (My Page) on
Mon, Nov 28, 11 at 9:19

I thought fermented pickles had no vinegar in the brine, yet I found the recipe below for Fermented Dills that have vinegar in the brine. Won't vinegar keep them from fermenting?

Fermented Dill Pickles
Per gallon jar
4-lbs of 4-inch cucumbers
2-tbsp dill seed or 4-5 heads fresh or dry dill weed
1/2-cup salt
1/4-cup vinegar (5%)
8-cups water
2-cloves garlic (optional)
2-dried red peppers (optional)
2-tsp whole mixed pickling spice (optional)

Wash cucumbers wells
Cut 1/16" off blossom end and discard
Leave 1/4" of stem attached
Place half of dill and spices on the bottom of the clean suitable container
Add cucumbers, remaining dill, and spices
Dissolve salt in vinegar and water and pour over cucumbers
Add suitable cover and weigh down so all is submerged
Store at 70*F for 3-4 weeks
55-65*F temperature will result in a 5-6 week fermentation process
Avoid temperatures over 80*F
Check the container several times a week to remove mold and scum

Fully fermented pickles can be stored in the original container in the refrigerator as long as you remove the scum on a regular basis


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: Fermenting Pickles Question

I think this is the standard NCHFP recipe for fermented dills, correct? If so, the small amount of vinegar is included to prevent bacterial growth (including listeria) from developing before the lactic acid has sufficient time to develop. It also provides an extra margin of safety for the differences in measurement from one person to another.

But no, it doesn't prevent fermentation, only slows it a bit in the beginning. It is an excellent recipe with good results every time we have used it.

Dave

Here is a link that might be useful: NCHFP - Fermented Dill Pickles


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RE: Fermenting Pickles Question

Last year I put peeled slices of cucumber, about .5 to 1 inch thick, into the brine of a gallon jar of store bought pickles, with a few pickles on the bottom. Just took it out of the fridge and looked at it, thinking of dumping it to use the jar for my next batch of sauerruben.

The slices are light green all the way though, and smell like a pickle. There is no mold or scum of any kind. I wonder if these fridge pickles might not be ok to eat after all, even after a year in the fridge.

Last time I asked about it, Dave told me that there would not be enough vinegar or salt left in the jar to cure them. That assumes that the company making them only uses just enough vinegar and salt, and no extra for safety's sake.

I would not be at all surprised if there were more than a half cup of salt and quarter cup of vinegar left in the brine after all the pickles had been removed.


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RE: Fermenting Pickles Question

Last time I asked about it, Dave told me that there would not be enough vinegar or salt left in the jar to cure them. That assumes that the company making them only uses just enough vinegar and salt, and no extra for safety's sake.

No, what I said was that the brine had been diluted by the water in the cucumbers originally in the jar. So it no longer had sufficient pH to safely process the new cucumbers. Cucumbers are 80% water after all.

It doesn't matter whether the manufacturer used sufficient salt or not although I'm sure they did as they have to pass FDA inspection. But their pickles are made in huge vats and then packed in jars. While on the shelf all the water in those cucumbers leaches out into the brine diluting it. That is what happens with all brines - basic osmotic chemistry - the sodium is exchanged with water.

Once opened the jars have a limited shelf life - an expiration date - for that very reason, reduced pH. So year old pickle brine is low enough in pH as to allow all sorts of bacteria, including listeria, to grow in it.

Eating those pickles is your choice, your risk to take but the lab tests would would show that it has neither sufficient salinity nor acidic pH in it to make it safe. More importantly it is in no way comparable to fresh made brine as we are discussing here.

Dave


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RE: Fermenting Pickles Question

brine had been diluted by the water isn't that the same thing as saying that there is not enough salt and vinegar left in the brine to cure more pickles? And if even the diluted brine is still very salty and vinegary, maybe even more so than the recipe for new pickles, then how is that not comparable? I'm sure that if I could test the brine there would be more than a quarter cup of vinegar in there, and probably more than a half a cup of salt, too. Why can they not be compared?

reduced pH wouldn't reduced pH, of a number increasingly below 7, be even more acidic?

Has anyone ever gotten sick from year old or older, opened pickles, or from adding slices of fresh cucumber to the brine? I wonder if commercial manufacturers don't make the brine so strong that nothing is likely to grow in it, just to save themselves from lawsuits.

I'm not trying to argue with anybody here. I want to know if anyone else ever did put fresh cuke slices in used commercial pickle brine, left it to cut a year in the fridge, ate it, and lived.


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RE: Fermenting Pickles Question

There are so many variables I assume it would be difficult to assess with certainty the relative safety of any particular jar.

Manufacturers process their pickles at a level of salt and/or acid (depending upon the kind of pickle and whether they're fermented or not) to allow for the gradual increase of pH over time as the cucumbers leach their juices into the solution. That process continues during the "life" of the pickles from the moment the jar is sealed and stored on the shelf to refrigeration and final consumption or to some point before that when stasis is achieved.

The strength of the original brine, the number of added fresh cucumbers, the time that has elapsed, would all be considerations. For example, I'd surmise that one of those old-fashioned sweet pickle recipes where the syrup is 100% vinegar with gobs of sugar (i.e. candied cucumbers) would present considerably less risk with re-use than a fermented dill.

But again, every case is unique in-and-of-itself, so the standard least-risky recommendation is not to recycle pickling brines.

Carol


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RE: Fermenting Pickles Question

I guess I am not explaining it very well but please do note that this isn't just my personal opinion, it is as Carol said, the standard recommendation.

Try thinking of it this way. You begin with a brine made of 1 cup of vinegar, 1 cup of water, and 1/2 cup of salt (just an example, not a recipe) and you fill that quart jar of brine with pickle slices, seal it and put it on the shelf.

One to two months later all the water in the cuke slices has moved out of the slices into the brine and the salt that was in the brine is now in the cuke slices. So now you eat those slices. The salt and some of the vinegar that was in the brine is now in you, not in the brine. And the vinegar that was an even amount with the water to begin with - 50:50 which is the minimum safe recommendation to begin with - is now less than 1/2 the liquid left in the jar.

So the liquid left in the jar is much more alkaline (rising pH=alkalinity) because of the extra water the cukes added, the vinegar that has been removed, and much of the salt is gone. To that you want to add even more fresh cucumbers and expect them to be safe? Your choice but it is NOT recommended by USDA guidelines.

Dave


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RE: Fermenting Pickles Question

I appreciate there are people here who follow recipes to the letter and give very good advice that really helps beginners like me. It's a big help and service to the community.

I googled and found there are people who reuse their store bought pickle brine. One blogger says it's good up to three more batches, then it gets slimy. So I might try to eat these cukes. Will think about it for a few days.


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RE: Fermenting Pickles Question

One blogger says it's good up to three more batches, then it gets slimy.

Ugh.

Another way to look at it is that pickling brine is really really cheap. Salt, water and perhaps vinegar just don't cost that much overall so re-using it is only marginally cost-effective and not nearly as tasty as fresh.

Carol


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RE: Fermenting Pickles Question

The label on my pickles says it also has calcium carbonate and sodium benzoate in it. Does anyone know how to add those yourself in the right proportions?

I think they add some other flavoring as well. Anyway the pickle juice smells better than the fermented turnips I just threw away. How can I get my homemade pickles to smell and taste that good?


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RE: Fermenting Pickles Question

Happyday, you are just playing with a recipe for disaster, trying to eat those pickles. The brine is contaminated. Even putting a fork or your fingers in there has made the brine have more bacteria. Please, learn what is safe and go from there.
We make great homemade pickles, using fresh ingredients and they smell and taste fantastic. It is calcium chloride, which is Pickle Crisp. Many of us use it.
It makes them crispy. That is all it does.


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RE: Fermenting Pickles Question

Anyway the pickle juice smells better than the fermented turnips I just threw away. How can I get my homemade pickles to smell and taste that good?

It isn't possible because they - pickling and fermenting - are two totally different processes. One is vinegar (acetic acid) based the other is salt and water (lactic acid) based.

It would be like comparing pickled cabbage to fermented cabbage (sauerkraut). So putting cukes in a jar of pickling brine is pickling, not fermenting.

There is loads of info available on both processes at NCHFP.

Dave


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