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Pickling with Vinegar

  1. What about adding vinegar to my pickles?

  2. Pickling with fruit: is it possible? What does it taste like?

  3. Can I pickle using regular cucumbers?


  1. What about adding vinegar to my pickles?


    Pickles in a vinegar based brine is one type of traditional pickling. There are at least two different styles of pickling: both the vinegar-based and what we make in the Perfect Pickler™, salt-based. A couple of generations have passed since pickling and canning the fall harvest were a necessary act for most families. We have lost the distinction of what "pickle types" there actually are.

    Vinegar-based pickles are the most common form of pickling. Cut vegetables are submerged in just boiled vinegar brine. This process destroys the natural culture and rich enzymes. The acidic nature of denatured vinegar does the preserving. Salt, sugar and spices are added to flavor these pickles. These type pickles sit on the unrefrigerated supermarket shelves until opened.

    Salt-based pickles actually create their preservative properties through the act of lactic acid fermentation. Live cultures that live on the vegetables react with the vegetable starches in the presence of sea salt and water. They proliferate into trillions of microbes within a few days. These lactic acid bacteria dominate and ultimately rule this universe in a jar. Their action lowers the pH of the brine to a point that no pathogens can survive. This is the same microbial activity found in a healthy human gut. They perform the very same tasks in the small intestine as in the pickling jar; they create a pH so low that no pathogens can proliferate.

    Salt-based pickles are refrigerated after the initial room temperature fermentation. To a lesser degree you can find salt-based pickles in the refrigerated section of your supermarket or in some ethnic groceries where they actually float in a brine in the refrigerated section.

    When it comes to adding vinegar in the salt-based pickles, there are at least two techniques. You can add some vinegar in the beginning, or at the end; after the initial four-day fermentation. You can used pasteurized vinegar or also consider raw, unpasteurized, unfiltered vinegar with all its culture still active. If you add vinegar in the beginning of the pickling process, use the pasteurized-it won't interfere with the natural fermentation. Or add either pasteurized or raw vinegar at the completion of fermentation. Add enough to round out the taste, starting with a tablespoon or so, wait several hours or a day, then taste and adjust if needed.

    Interesting enough, many people taste salt-based pickles and think there is vinegar in it. This sour taste actually is produced without vinegar. You can munch a kosher dill pickle and pucker without the vinegar. Many modern pickle eaters actually taste a salt-based dill pickle and aren't familiar with the taste. They were weaned on the vinegar-based dills. In that case, you can adjust the flavor after pickling with the addition of vinegar.



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  2. Pickling with fruit: is it possible? What does it taste like?


    We are not familiar with the pickling of fruit. However, in traditional cuisines you will find fruit mixed with culture active foods such as salsas, chutneys, and other condiments. To employ beneficial microbes, use raw, unfiltered vinegar as the acid to these dishes.

    We actually use grated apple in one of our sauerkraut recipes. There is a wonderful sweet-sour taste from the Apple-Ginger Kraut on page 16. We grate apple and mix it with the cabbage and it pickles beautifully.



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  3. Can I pickle using regular cucumbers?


    Regular cucumbers just don’t work in pickling. Also, it is important not to cut up cucumbers before they are pickled. Likewise with any summer squash, like patty pan or small zucchinis or crook neck squash should be left whole. Otherwise these soft vegetables turn mushy. I have found some miniature hydroponic vegetables that pickle very well. Look for them at farmers markets and larger supermarkets. They are pricey, but they will dress up a jar of homely vegetables.

    For cucumbers you need the smaller Gherkin, or Kirby. In some parts of the country you will see them marketed as “salad cucumbers.” They are wax less, thin-skinned and not much longer than your middle finger. Recently hydroponic cucumbers have come to market. They pickle extraordinarily well, due to the fact they are so fresh. Most off-season cucumbers come from out of the country, and may be a couple weeks old. We make dill pickles usually only when they are in season or the hydroponic ones are available. We suggest not to make your initial batch as dill pickles, due to the fact that older cucumbers are hard to spot . If you find a source of cucumbers and want to know more, email us at info@perfectpickler.com



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