Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Pickle Problems

Shriveled Pickles

  • Shriveling may result from using too strong a vinegar, sugar, or salt solution at the start of the pickling process. In making the very sweet or very sour pickles, it is best to start with a dilute solution and increase gradually to the desired strength.
  • Overcooking or overprocessing may also cause shriveling.

Hollow Pickles

Hollowness in pickles usually results from:

  • Poorly developed cucumbers.
  • Holding cucumbers too long before pickling
  • Too rapid fermentation.
  • Too strong or too weak a brine during fermentation.

Soft or Slippery Pickles

These generally result from microbial action which causes spoilage. Once a pickle becomes soft it cannot be made firm. Microbial activity may be cause by:

  • Too little salt or acid.
  • Cucumbers not covered with brine during fermentation period.
  • Scum scattered throughout the brine during fermentation period.
  • Insufficient heat treatment.
  • A seal that is not airtight.
  • Moldy garlic or spices.

Blossoms, if not entirely removed from the cucumbers before fermentation, may contain fungi or yeasts responsible for enzymatic softening of pickles.

Dark Pickles

Darkness in pickles may be caused by:

  • Use of ground spices.
  • Too much spice.
  • Iodized salt.
  • Overcooking.
  • Minerals in water, especially iron.
  • Use of iron utensils.


Making Pickles and Relishes At Home
Home and Garden Bulletin No. 92
U.S. Department of Agriculture (1970)

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