brine, fermentation, lactic acid bacteria, sterilized jars, cover, tablespoon salt, making sweet pickles, sugar concentration, Store in a cool place, vinegar, Extension Bulletin, glass jars, dill pickles, Extension Nutritionist, mustard seed, cup vinegar, vegetables, salt solution, celery salt, green peppers, State College of Washington, lactic acid, salt pickles, salt concentration
(Revised) August, 1940
BRINING VEGETABLES AND MAKING PICKLESExtension Service
,State College of Washington
By Miss Rae Russell, Extension Nutritionist How Brining Preserves Vegetables vVhen vegetabl es are placed in brine the juices and soluble material co ntained in them are drawn out by the force kn own a s osm osis. The fermentable sugar present in all fruit s and vegetables, which is one of the so luble substances extracted b y osmotic acti o n, serves as food for the lactic-acid bacteria which break it down into Lactic acid
·and certain volatile ac ids. In some vegetables, like cucumbers and cabbage, where the supply of sugar is ampl e and other conditions are favo rable to the growth of the lactic acid bacteria
, an accumulatio n of acids ta k es place as a result L·f fermentati o n. The acid brine thus formed acts upon the vegetable tissues, bringing about the changes in color, tast e, and texture which mark the pickle stage. As a rul e, a solutio n of salt is used, although some vegetables quickl y g ive up enough moisture to convert dry sait into brine. Salt ha rd ens o r makes firm th e vegetabl es placed in brine and ch eck s the action of organisms which mig ht otherwise destroy the plant tissues. Cucumbers Because of their shape, firmne ss, or keeping quality some varieties of cucumbers are better adapted for making pickles than others. Cucumbers of practically all varieties, sizes, and shapes, however, make good pickles, provided they are free from disease and are taken from the vines before they approach the ripening stage. Cucumbers to be pickled should retain from one-eighth to one-fourth inch of th eir stems and th ey should n ot be bruised. Cucumbers contain approximately 90 per cent water. As this large water content
reduces materially the salt concentration of any brine in w hich they are fermented, it is n ecessary to add an excess of salt at the beginning of th e fermentation process
in th e propo rtion of one pound for every ten pounds of cucumber s. The active stage of cucumb er fermentation continues for: 10 to 30 days, depending largely on the t emperature at which it is conducted. The m ost favorable temp erature is 86° F . Practically all th e sugar withdrawn fr om the cucumbers is utilized durthe stage of active fermentation, at the end of which the brine reaches its highes t degree of acidity. During thi s perio d the salt concentration should no t be materially increased; for, alth oug h the lactic acid bacteria are fairly tolerant of salt, there is a limit to th eir tolerance. The addition of Published and distributed in furth e rance of the Act of May 8, 1914, by the State College of Washington, Extension Service, F . E. B alme r, Director, and U. S. Department of Agriculture
a large quantity of salt at this time would reduce their acid-forming power just when this is essential to a succ essful ferm e ntati o n. Salt, therefore, should be added gradually ove r a period of week s. Salt Pickles Salt pickles, or salt stock, are made by curing cucumbers in a brine w hich sho uld contain n o t less than 9.5* per cent of salt at the start. Not only must the brine be kept at this strength, but salt should be added until it ha s a conc entratio n of ab o ut 15* per cent. If well coyered with b r1 ne ·f this s treng th, the surface of w hich is k ep t clean, pickles will keep mdefi.nitely. Curing of ·cucumbers is marked by an increased firmness, a greater degree of translucency, and a change in color from pale green to dark or o live green. Th ese cha n ges are uniform thro u g hout the p erfectly cured specimen. Pack 12 pounds of cucumb ers in a four-gallon jar and cove r with six qua rts of a 10* p er cent brin e. At th e tim e of making up the brine, or n ot later than the following day, add m ore salt at the rate of one pound for every 10 p o unds of cucumbers used, (in this case, one pound and th ree o unces.) Thi s is necess ary to maintain the s trength of the brin e. Cove r with a r o und b oard or plat e that will go in s ide the jar and on top of this place a weight heavy enough to keep the cucumbers well below the surface of the brine. At the end of the first w eek, and at the end of each succeeding week for five weeks, add one-fo urth pound o f salt. In adding salt always i) iac e it o n the cover. If it is added directly t o the brin e, it may s ink, as a r es ult of which the salt solution at the bottom will be strong, while near the surface it may be so weak that the pickles w ill s poil. Processing After being cured in brine, pickles must receive a processing in water to remove the excess salt. If they are to be used as salt pickles, only a partial processing is required. If, howeve r, they are t o b e made into s our, sweet, o r mixed pickles, the salt sh o uld h e, largely, but n o t e ntireiy soaked out. After proper processing in water, salt pickles may be eaten as such, or they may be converted into sour pickles, sweet pickles, mixed pickles o r pickle r elis h. Sour Pickles After pickle s ha ve been process ed sufficiently, drain th em well a nd cover them at once with vin egar.** (A four and o ne-half to fi v e p er cent vinegar usually gives all the sourness that is desirable. If, however, very sour pickles are preferred, it would be well to use at fir st a four to four and one-half per cent vinegar, and after a week or ten days transfer the pickles to a vinegar of the strength desired.) As the first vinegar used will in all cases be g reatly reduced in strength by dilution with the brine contained in the pickles, it will be necessary to renew the vinegar after a few weeks. If this is n ot done a nd the pickles are held fo r any len g th of time they may spoil. Sweet Pickles Cover the· cured and processed cucumbers w ith a sweet liquor made by di ssolvi ng suga r in vinega r, u suall y with addition of spices. D epend- ~· See Brin e Tables Page 5· ·-* V inegar as pur chased u suall y h as a stren gt h of 4 to 5 pe r cent acetic acid
ing upon the degree of sweetness desired, the quantity of sugar may vary from four to ten pounds to the gallon of vinegar, six pounds to the gallon usually giving satisfactory results
. The chief difficulty in making sweet pickles is their tendency to become shriveled and tough, which increases with the sugar concentration
of the liquor. The danger can usually be avoided by covering the pickles first with a plain four and one-half to five per cent vinegar. After one week discard this vinegar, which in all probability has become g reatly reduced in streng th, and cover with a liquor made by adding four pounds of sugar to the gallon of vinegar. It is very important that the acidity of the liquor used on pickles be kept as high as possible. A decrease in acidity much below three per cent strength may permit the growth of yeasts, with resulting fermentati on and spoilage.
if a liquor containing more than four pounds of sugar to the gallon is des ired, it w ould be best no t to exceed that quantity at first, but gradually add sugar until the desired concentration is obtained.
O ne ounce of whole mixed spices to four gallons of pickles is enough. A s spices may cause cloudiness of the vinegar, they should be removed after the desired flavor has been obtained. Heating is an aid to a better utiliza ti o n of the spice. Add the required quantity of spice, in a cheesecloth · bag, to the vinegar and hold at the boiling point
for not longer than half an hour. Heating too lo ng causes the vinegar to darken. If considered desira bl e, add sugar at thi s time, and pour at once over the pickles.
If the pickles are to be packed in bottles o r jars, after such preliminary
treatment as may be required, transfer them to these containers and cover
th em with a liquor made as desired.
Dill Pickles P lace in the bottom of the jar a layer of dill and one-half ounce of mix ed s pice. Then fill the jar, within two or three inches of the top, with washed cucumbers of a s neariy the same size as practicable. Add another half ounce of spice and layer of dill. It is a good plan to place over the top a layer of grape leaves. In fact, it would be well to place these at both the bottom and top. They make a very suitable covering and have a greening effect on the pickles. Pour over the pickles a brine made as follows : Salt, one pound; vinegar, one pint; water, two gallons. Never use a hot brine at the beginning of a fermentation. The chances are that it would kill the organisms present, thus preventing fermentation. Cover with a board cover or plate with sufficient weight on top to hold the cucumbers well below the brine. If the cucumbers are packed at a temperature around 86° F ., an active fermentation will at once set in. This should be completed in ten days to two weeks, if a t emperature of about 86° F. is maintained. The scum which soon forms on the surface and which consists usually of wild yeasts, but often contains molds and bacteria, should be skimmed off. After active fermentation has stopped, it is necessary to protect the pickles against spoilage. This may be done in one of two ways. ( 1) Cover with a layer of paraffin. This should be poured while hot over the surface of the brine or as much of it as is exposed around the edges of the board cover. When cooled this forms a solid coating which seals the pickles. (2) Seal the pickles in glass jars or cans. As soon as they are sufficently cured, which ma:y be determined by their agreeable flavor and dark-green color, transfer them to glass jars, and fill either with their own brine or with a fresh brine made as directed. Add a small quantity of dill and spice.
B rin g the brine to a b oil, and, after coolin g t o about 160° F., pour it over the pickles, filling the jars full. Seal the jars tig ht and store in a cool place. If preferred, dill pickles may be packed in o ne- or two- quart jars. S oak cucumbe rs in cold wate r overnig ht and pack in jars, using for each quart one-fou rth of a red pepper, one teaspoon white pepper, one bay leaf, and dill to suit the taste. Make brine, using six quarts water, one pound rock salt, and o ne teaspoon powdered alum. Bring to a boil and add o n e quart v inega r. Pour over pickles while hot and seal. Sauerkraut For making sauerkraut in the hom e, four- to six-gallon stone jars are co n s id ered th e b es t containers, unl ess large quantiti es are d es ir ed, in which case kegs or barrels may be used. Select only mature, sound heads of cabbage. After removing all decayed or dirty leaves, wash in Running Water
, quarter the heads and slice off the core portion. For shredding, one of the hand- shredding machines which can b e o btained on the market is much th e bes t, although an o rdinary slaw cutter o r large knife will do. In making sau erkraut the fermentation is carried out in a brine made fr om the juice of th e cabbage which is drawn o ut by the salt. O ne po und of sa lt fo r eve r y 40 po unds o f cabbage m akes th e proper str eng th o f brine t o prod uce the best r es ults. The salt may be di stributed as the cabbage is packed in th e jar o r it may be mixed with the sh redd ed cabbage before being packed. The distri buti on of two ounces (one-fourth cup) of salt with every five p ound s of ca bbage is th e b es t way to ge t an even distributi o n. Pack th e cabbage firmly, but n ot too tig htly in the jar or keg. When full, cover with a clean cl o th and a boa rd o r plate. O n th e cover place a we ig ht h eavy enough t o cause th e b r in e to come up to the cover. H th e jar is kept at a temperature o f about 86 ° F ., fermentati o n will start promptly. A scum soon forms on the surface of the brine. As thi scum tends to destroy the acidity and may affect the cabbage, it should be skimmed off from time to time. If kept at 86 ° F. , th e fermentation s h ould be co mpleted within 10 days. After fermentation is complete, set th e sauerkraut in a cool place. If the cabbage is fermented late in th e fall, or if it can be stored in a very cool place, it may no t b e necessary to do more than keep the surface skimmed and pro tected from insects. O therwi se it will be necessary to resort to o n e o f th e fo ll owing measures t o preve nt spoilage: (1) Pour a layer of hot paraffin over the surface or as much of it as is exposed around the cover. Properly applied to a clean surface this effectually seals the jars and protects th e contents from contamination. (2) After the fermentati on is complete the sauerkraut may be canned. P ack in g las s jars, adding enough of the "kraut" brine, o r a weak brine made by adding an ounce of salt t o a quart of water, to completely fill the jars. Process · IS minutes in water bath
and seal. Sauerkraut may be packed in fruit jars instead of a large container. U se two ounces (one-fourth cup) of salt to five pounds of cabbage. Place a layer of cabbage in a large pan, and sprinkle with a layer of salt. Continue until all salt and cabbage is used. M ix thoroug hly to get a good distributi o n of salt and p·ack int o jars. With a wooden spoon, tamp the cabbage d own until the jar is full and ther e is ab out one-half inch of juice on top, which just fills the jar. Place rubber on jar and screw lid down until it just t o u ches-d o n o t ti g hten. The juice will run out as it ferment s and form 4
a seal. When fe r mentation is complete, clean jars and store. (Do not screw tops down, as seal will be broken.)
String Beans in Brine Select fresh stringless beans. Remove tips and strings and wash thoroughly. Pack in a large earthenware or wooden vessel with alternate layers of salt using one part salt to seven parts beans (by weight.) Weight the beans down and a few days later add enough brine (one part salt to seven parts water by weight) to fill the jar. Seal with paraffin to prevent evaporation of water from t h e b rine. Do n ot move after sealing as liqu id wi ll loosen the seal. Store in a cool place.
Com Select tender corn at proper stage of development for table use. Cook in boi ling water 10 m inutes to set milk; then cut off the cob . Pack in an earthenware or glass jar with alternate layers of salt using one part of salt to seven parts of corn by weight. Add enough brine (one part salt to seven parts water) to cover the corn. Seal with paraffin to prevent evaporation. Store in a cool place.
Cooking Brined Vegetables
ro cook b rined vegetables, cover with Cold water
and b rin g t o boil. Discard water and repeat the process. It may be necessary to change water seve ral t ime s if vegetables are very salty. If preferred, th e vegetab les may be soaked ove r ni g ht but th e flav o r seems better if soak ing is n o t continued too long.
Brine Tables* Salt percentages, corresponding salinometer readin gs, and quantity o f salt required to make six quarts of brine.
Sal t in solution Per cent 1.06 2.12 3. 18 4.24 5.30 6.36 7.42 8 .48 9.54 10.60 15 .90 21. 50 26.50
Salinometer reading Degrees 4 8 12 16 20 24 28 32 36 40 60 80 100
Salt in 6 qts. of finished brine Ounces 2 4% 6~ 8~ 11 13 14 ~ 18 20 22 ~ 35 48 64
+ % cup ~ cup
+ ~ cup + 1 cup + 1% cups + 1~ cups + 1~ cups
1 tablespoon 1 tablespoon 2 tablesp. 2 tablesp. 1 tablesp.
2 ~ cups + 2 ~ cups + 4 % cups
1 tab les p. 2 tabl esp.
Sweet Peach Pickle
7 pounds peeled peaches (cli ngstone) 3 ~ pounds sugar 1 pint water
1 pint vinegar 10 peach kern els cracked and t ied in a clo th
sp ice bag containin g 2 tabl espoons each of whole cl oves, all spice, cinnam o n bark, and one teaspoo n of ground g ing er.
*Tables and muc h of the for egoing material a r e tak en fr om Farmers' Bulletin ~o. 143 8-"Making Fermented Pickles." 5
Dissolve sugar in vinegar and water, add cloth contatnmg crushed kernels and the spice bag, bring to a boil, and add peaches a few at a time. When all have been added cook 15 min
utes, remove, place on platter, let them get cold, continue boiling sirup until thick, pour over peaches. When both sirup and peaches are cold, pack in hot jars, seal and process jars 20 Minutes
. Be.et Pickles Cook small beets until tender, slip the skins off, pack into jars, cover with spiced v inegar, seal and process for 30 minute s (at s immerin g) . Beets a re better cann ed in water and made into pickles as des ired.
T o 0 gallon of vinegar add 10 ta blespoo ns celery seed (crushed)
1 cup suga r (brown suga r if d e - sired) 10 tablesp oo ns mustard seed
1 tablespoon cinnamon
Mix well a nd bring to a boil.olive oil
4 quarts pared a nd sliced large
1 tablespoon celery seed
g reen cucumbers
1 s tick cinnamon, broken in bits
1 dozen onions (picklers)
1 ta bl espoon wh o le all sp ice
~ cup salt 1 quart water
0 cup mustard seed 0 cup sugar
1 tablespoon cloves
0 cup olive oil o r salad o il
Cold v inegar t o cover
P ut th e cucumbers and o ni o ns into a b owl, sprinkle with the salt, and pour over the· water. Let stand ove r night. Drain and mix w ith seasoning, s uga r, oi l and co ld vin egar to cove r. Seal in s t erili zed jars .
1 large ca uliflowe r, broken into fl o rets quart onions (picklers) quart tender green or wax bean s 1 quart small green to matoes 2 sweet g reen peppers cut in 1" pieces 2 sweet red peppers cut in 1"
2 cups sugar 1 quart small whole cucumbers 2 quarts cucumbers, sliced without paring 73 cups flour 4 ounces mustard 2 tablespoons turmeric 1 tablespoon celery seed 1 tablespoon salt
2 quarts vinegar
Steam or cook all the vegetables except cucumbers until just barely
do ne. Wash the cucumber s and cover them with a salt solution (o ne cup t o two quarts of water) and let them stand while the other vegetables are cooking and the mus tard dressing is being prepared. Mix flour, spices, sugar, and salt, and put them in a sauce pan. Stir in a little vinegar and set over heat. Cook, adding the vinegar gradually, and co ntinue stirring until the dressing is thick and smooth. Add the vegetables including the drained cucumbers. Boil o ne minute and seal in steri liz ed jars. (Th e vege tabl es ma y. be var ied t o suit your convenience and taste.)
2 quarts sweet corn, cut from cob 3 green sweet peppers, seeded and chopped 2 red sweet peppers, seeded and chopped
2 quarts finely chopped cabbage
2 tablespoons celery salt
2 quarts vinegar 1 pound sugar 4 ounces mustard 2 tablespoons salt
Put the vegetables in a preserving kettle with the vinegar. Mix the s ugar, mustard, and salt, and stir it in. Mix well and boil until the vegetables are done, about 20 minutes. Seal in sterilized jars.
Bread and Butter Pickles
12 large cucumbers sliced
2 stalks celery cut in pieces
4 large onions sliced
Let stand over night.
Drain w the morning and add:
3 cups vinegar 2 cups sugar (brown sugar if
0 teaspoon ginger 0 teaspoon turmeric powder
Small am ount of celery salt
teaspoon mustard seed
2 red or 2 green peppers
Cook about one-half hour or until done. Seal while hot.
Cherry Olives Place Royal Anne cherries in pint jars and pour over them 0 tablespoo n salt and Y8 cup white vinegar t o each pint. Fill jars with cold water and seal.
Chow Chow Remove stem-end and all blemishes from 0 bushel of green tomatoes. Put through food chopper and drain thoroughly. Then put through food chopper 30 pounds onions, 1 pound sweet green peppers, 1 pound red peppers (seeds removed). Mix with chopped tomatoes and add 10 quart s of vinegar, 10 table spoo ns cinnamon, 10 tablesp oons allspice, 1 tablesp oo n cloves, 1 cup su ga r, 20 tablespoons salt. Boil 30 minutes, pack in s teriliz ed glass jars.
Sweet Chunk Pickles Cover 36 ·medium cucumbers with brine made of two and one-half cups salt to one gallon of water. Let stand three days. Drain and cut in chunks. Cover with fresh water
and one cup vinegar. Bring to a good boil. Put in crock and let stand in same water for three day s. Drain.
Mix 3 pounds (6 cups) white sugar 1 quart vinegar 10 teaspoons whole cloves
tablespoon white mustard seed 0 teaspoon ground nutmeg
Bring to a boil and pour over cucumbers. Do this each morning for three days. On third day, pack in sterilized jars, cover with hot vinegar sirup and seal. Note: If cucumbers are .not of medium size, use amount that can be covered by one gallon of brine.
Sliced Sweet Pickles
l gallon Boiling water
1 cup salt
Make brine using boiling water and salt. U se just enough cucumbers (dill size) for brine to~ c ove r.
Pour brine over cucumbers and let stand 24 hours. Heat brine on two successive days and pour over cucumbers. On the fourth day, wash cucumbers slice and put m cold water.
3 cups sugar
2 cups vinegar
1 handful whole, mixed spices
Boil sugar, vinegar and sp ice s t oge ther for 10 minutes. Pour over cucumbers. Let stand 24 hours. Heat sirup on two successive days and pour over cucumbers. On the seventh day, heat all and boil for three minutes. Put in sterilized jars and seal.
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