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Pickling Water, Salt & Sugar

  1. Can I drink the brine?

  2. Can I reuse the Brine in another batch?

  3. My pickles don't taste the way I want them.

  4. Sometimes my dill pickles are mush after the four-day pickling period.

  5. I notice a white powdery substance on my pickles.

  6. I use distilled water for pickling.  I forgot to add some salt to the distilled water.  Will this effect my pickling?

  7. Can I add sugar to the recipe?

  8. Can I use regular table salt for pickling?


  1. Can I drink the brine?


    Yes, you can drink the brine in the pickler. In fact, I saw where a football team drinks pickle juice instead of the electrolytic “ades” in those fancy bottles. Farmers of old used to drink a little pickle juice coming out of the fields to rejuvenate themselves.

    However, discard the brine that may have seeped out of the pickler. (We add this caveat, because someone actually did drink the brine off the saucer!). You can also add brine to soup stocks, salad dressings (it is a salty and sour component ready for oil and herbs) or dispose of this rich microbial broth in your garden or compost.



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  2. Can I reuse the Brine in another batch?


    Using the entire pickling brine from a prior batch of pickles makes the next batch too sour. However, you can add a couple tablespoons per quart to boost your new batch. Some Old World recipes even call for floating a slice of sourdough rye bread on top! I have done so in the past, but it does not seem to increase the natural fermenting action.



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  3. My pickles don't taste the way I want them.


    The Perfect Pickler® embodies a forgiving, simple technology. You can alter the results of your pickles. Review pages 12-13 in the instruction booklet.

    We have found everyone has their own ideal dill pickle flavor. There can be regional differences. Like beer or wine, there is always a range of flavors to suit individual palates.

    Almost all commercial dill pickles are actually made by using a vinegar and brine method. But you actually have made a batch of brine cured dill pickles. They have a milder flavor. In fact, they are called “half-sours.” If you then add vinegar to taste, you will develop the taste of full-sour dill pickles. Add a quarter cup of raw, unfiltered apple cider vinegar (find at health-food stores) or a white vinegar and wait about 24 hours to taste the result. Once you find the tartness you like, write it into your recipe book for future reference.

    • If too salty: pour off a quarter of the brine and refill with spring or filtered water.
    • If too bland: add additional whole sea salt to the pickler. Re-taste after 4-8 hours and adjust again if needed.
    • not spicy/garlicky enough: add more spices and garlic
    • too spicy/garlicky: add more brine to dilute


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  4. Sometimes my dill pickles are mush after the four-day pickling period.


    These recipes do not include chemicals that keep pickles crisp, which are aluminum based mineral compounds. Dill pickles will naturally soften. They are crispest just after picking is complete. If you like crisp dill pickles you can even eat them after only three days of primary fermenting. These are known as “half sours.” Otherwise, if the texture gets too mushy you can turn them into relish by mincing them up. Mushy dills can also be caused for other reasons. First possible source: Soft, older cucumbers. Always use the freshest vegetables when pickling. Old produce does not pickle well. If you can chose pickling cucumbers by hand, select those that still have bright green stems, and/or the flower is still attached.

    Reject any that have small soft indentations or are greasy looking.

    Sources of cucumbers: Of late there is a new source of great pickling cucumbers. Be on the lookout for hydroponic cucumbers. Larger supermarkets are now offering them, as well as farmers markets. Because they are just picked, they make excellent pickles.

    Publix® Supermarkets in the Southeast have a good year-round supply of cucumbers. They are called “salad cucumbers.” They are the traditional Kirby type that has no wax on them. In prepping the cucumbers for pickling be sure to lightly scrub under running water. Then nip both ends off each to exclude any resident yeast or molds that avoided the scrubbing process.

    DON’T slice up raw cucumbers before pickling unless you soak them in a strong, temporary brine. Dissolve 1/3 cup common table salt with 1 quart water, and soak whole cucumbers for 30 minutes. Rinse well and discard the brine. Now proceed with the recipe. I only slice the cuke(s) that are the last to get into the jar. 

    For firmer resultes add a few oak, or grape leaves to the bottom of the jar and the top before sealing. The tannins help keep the cucumber skins firmer.

    Slice off the very tips on both ends of the cucumber. There may be an enzyme present that softens them during pickling.



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  5. I notice a white powdery substance on my pickles.


    This is a harmless yeast, called Kahm’s yeast. It may yield a mild off flavor, but it will not hurt your batch. This can be caused by under-salting, or having a room too warm during primary fermentation. Be sure to keep the room temperature below 75 degrees. Use a cooler and blue ice blocks changed out every 8 hours or so to maintain.



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  6. I use distilled water for pickling.  I forgot to add some salt to the distilled water.  Will this effect my pickling?


    Distilled water makes water a reactive medium, wanting to return to a mineralized, balanced state. Unless you rebalance distilled water, you will get mixed pickling results. To balance this water add a teaspoon of unrefined sea salt, to a gallon of distilled water. This type of salt has had nothing done to it, no heating, no milling, no extractions. It is truly organic and highly suitable for salt pickling. Wait a few hours, then continue on the recipes per the booklet instructions.



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  7. Can I add sugar to the recipe?


    Traditional sweet and sour pickle recipes have you boil a vinegar and sugar brine and pour onto the cut up vegetables.

    In considering the health benefits of culture active pickles, we want to consider a couple ideas. Adding sugar at the beginning of pickling (in the first four-days of primary fermentation) would have the sugar interfering with this natural process.

    And of course, boiling the sweet-sour brine would also destroy the culture.

    To make make a sweet-sour dill pickle, we suggest you go through the primary four-day fermentation for Garlicky Dill Pickles, then remove the pickles and slice into the shape you desire and place back in the Perfect Pickler®. Consider 2 TBS. sweetener and 2 TBS. raw apple cider vinegar per quart of dill pickles. Refrigerate, wait 24 hours and taste; adjust for sweet & sour as needed and copy into your recipe notes.



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  8. Can I use regular table salt for pickling?


    Table salt is a poor choice. It has extra chemicals in them, including iodine, which can effect the result. Better choices are as follows:

    • very best: unrefined, unprocessed, unground sea salt. It looks moist, has irregular crystals, and is grey colored. You get the bonus of a whole spectrum of macro- and micro-minerals that go into solution and are made available to the microcultures. They metabolize them into a bonus mineral food supplement! You need to find at health-food or in specialty food stores.
    • We include a package of Celtic Sea Salt® in every kit.
    • better: processed table salt that has no chemical additives on the list of ingredients.
    • mixed results: - table salt without added iodine - “pickling salt” labeled salt. - “kosher salt” without iodine


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