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   The many varieties of pickled and fermented foods are
   classified by ingredients and method of preparation.
   Regular dill pickles and sauerkraut are fermented and
   cured for about 3 weeks. Refrigerator dills are
   fermented for about 1 week. During curing, colors and
   flavors change and acidity increases. Fresh-pack or
   quick-process pickles are not fermented; some are
   brined several hours or overnight, then drained and
   covered with vinegar and seasonings. Fruit pickles
   usually are prepared by heating fruit in a seasoned
   syrup acidified with either lemon juice or vinegar.
   Relishes are made from chopped fruits and vegetables
   that are cooked with seasonings and vinegar.
   Be sure to remove and discard a 1/16-inch slice from
   the blossom end of fresh cucumbers. Blossoms may
   contain an enzyme which causes excessive softening of
   Caution: The level of acidity in a pickled product is
   as important to its safety as it is to taste and
   * Do not alter vinegar, food, or water proportions in
   a recipe or use a vinegar with unknown acidity.
   * Use only recipes with tested proportions of
   * There must be a minimum, uniform level of acid
   throughout the mixed product to prevent the growth of
   botulinum bacteria.
   Select fresh, firm fruits or vegetables free of
   spoilage. Measure or weigh amounts carefully, because
   the proportion of fresh food to other ingredients will
   affect flavor and, in many instances, safety.
   Use canning or pickling salt. Noncaking material added
   to other salts may make the brine cloudy. Since flake
   salt varies in density, it is not recommended for
   making pickled and fermented foods. White granulated
   and brown sugars are most often used. Corn syrup and
   honey, unless called for in reliable recipes, may
   produce undesirable flavors. White distilled and cider
   vinegars of 5 percent acidity (50 grain) are
   recommended. White vinegar is usually preferred when
   light color is desirable, as is the case with fruits
   and cauliflower.
   In the making of fresh-pack pickles, cucumbers are
   acidified quickly with vinegar. Use only tested
   recipes formulated to produce the proper acidity.
   While these pickles may be prepared safely with
   reduced or no salt, their quality may be noticeably
   lower. Both texture and flavor may be slightly, but
   noticeably, different than expected. You may wish to
   make small quantities first to determine if you like
   them. However, the salt used in making fermented
   sauerkraut and brined pickles not only provides
   characteristic flavor but also is vital to safety and
   texture. In fermented foods, salt favors the growth of
   desirable bacteria while inhibiting the growth of
   others. Caution: Do not attempt to make sauerkraut or
   fermented pickles by cutting back on the salt required.
   Alum may be safely used to firm fermented pickles.
   However, it is unnecessary and is not included in the
   recipes in this publication. Alum does not improve the
   firmness of quick-process pickles. The calcium in lime
   definitely improves pickle firmness. Food-grade lime
   may be used as a lime-water solution for soaking fresh
   cucumbers 12 to 24 hours before pickling them. Excess
   lime absorbed by the cucumbers must be removed to make
   safe pickles. To remove excess lime, drain the
   lime-water solution, rinse, and then resoak the
   cucumbers in fresh water for 1 hour. Repeat the
   rinsing and soaking steps two more times. To further
   improve pickle firmness, you may process cucumber
   pickles for 30 minutes in water at 180 degrees F. This
   process also prevents spoilage, but the water
   temperature should not fall below 180 degrees F. Use a
   candy or jelly thermometer to check the water
   Pickle products are subject to spoilage from
   microorganisms, particularly yeasts and molds, as well
   as enzymes that may affect flavor, color and texture.
   Processing the pickles in a boiling-water canner will
   prevent both of these problems. Standard canning jars
   and self-sealing lids are recommended. Processing
   times and procedures will vary according to food
   acidity and the size of food pieces.
   ÿÿÿÿÿÿÿÿÿÿÿÿÿÿÿÿÿÿ  ÿ * USDA Agriculture Information Bulletin No. 539
   (rev. 1994) * Meal-Master format courtesy of Karen
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