Pickle questions

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Pickle questions

Postby CHULCH on Wed Aug 29, 2018 9:50 am

Hello everyone! I am new to the world of fermentation as I have traditionally made only cucumber pickles in a vinegar brine and heat processed them. However, my family has been making sour kraut, quite well I might add, for as long as I can remember. I have recently made some half sour pickles via lacto-fermentation. I made four 1 quart jars. They are beautiful and I let them work on the counter at 74 degrees for 3 days. Strangely, two of the jars were cloudy and two were not. I know the cloudiness is normal and I tasted the pickles from the cloudy jar and it was delicious. I then placed all four jars in the fridge. I recently tasted a pickle from one of the jars that was not cloudy when I placed it in the fridge and it tasted like a salty cucumber. My first thought was that the lactobacillus was not active enough before I "cold crashed it", and therefore never had the chance to work its magic on the cucumbers. I have since pulled one jar out of the fridge and place it back on the counter. I saw bubbles almost immediately upon the jar warming up and now the mixture is cloudy. I am a little concerned that the cucumbers do not appear to be changing in appearance like they would normally. There is not a translucent darker green ring like you would expect. There is also a lot of white sediment in the bottom which I understand to be spent lactobacillus. Are these safe to eat if they smell OK. Will the cucumbers turn color like normal. I would appreciate any thoughts you have. Thanks for helping the new guy.
CHULCH
 
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Re: MY FIRST POST AND A QUESTION

Postby Christopher Weeks on Wed Aug 29, 2018 10:20 am

I don't move pickles to the fridge until 10-14 days at room temp. cloudy brine and white sediment are both desirable. I suspect your narrative is correct -- the cukes in the jars that didn't cloud had too little native flora to bloom in the time you gave them and were severely retarded by the refrigeration. When you brought them back out, they returned to the task. I'd suggest giving them some time and there is nothing in your story that would worry me.
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Re: Pickle questions

Postby CHULCH on Wed Aug 29, 2018 1:21 pm

Thanks Christopher! That makes me feel better about my remaining pickles. I do have a follow up question. What is the recommended time frame for half sours vs. full sours. You recommended 10 to 14 days but the recipe I used said 2 to 4 days for half sours. I understand there are many variables: temperature, personal taste etc. I just want to make sure I fully understand what to expect after a certain amount of time at a certain temperature, mine was 74 degrees for 3 days and I obviously needed more time for some of them. I also have a bonus question. I've never had a full sour cucumber pickle, at least not that I new about. Do they have a somewhat mushy texture? I like my pickles to be sour but was making half sours because I thought they would be crunchier. Anyone out there have experience with this?
CHULCH
 
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Re: Pickle questions

Postby Christopher Weeks on Wed Aug 29, 2018 2:25 pm

I don't know anything really about "official" half-/full-sourness. I had the idea that half sours were made in weaker brine, but I'm willing to accept whatever.

In my experience, pickles don't usually go mushy during the ferment (my last summer batch did, but that's been an exception). They get mushy over time. Starting about three months after pickling is done, depending on tannins added. I've also had them last 24 months with only a little softness. I think crunchiness is universally considered an asset.
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Re: Pickle questions

Postby dciolek on Thu Aug 30, 2018 12:09 pm

Ditto -- no official experience on half-sour/full sour...

My recent pickle ferment was a bushel size batch that averaged about 65 degrees during the initial 8 days. That was the tasting point where I would have called it "half-sour" because you could tell it was moving away from being a cucumber and into the tangy zone. But it wasn't even close to where I wanted it to end up.

If you look at sourdough fermentation charts -- the time for a 65 degree ferment takes about double the time for a 74 degree ferment. Although I am not sure that is a good reference since LAB is not the only game -- it leads me to believe that your ferment may have been close to the same stage at 4 days (if all else was equal -- salt/initial bacteria load on the cucumbers, spices, etc).

Left another 2-3 weeks at 67-69 degrees and then bottled in gallon jars to store in the fridge at what I found to be "full-sour" stage. They continued to have the same crispiness they exhibited at "half-sour", great crunch even two months later.
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Re: Pickle questions

Postby CHULCH on Thu Aug 30, 2018 3:52 pm

Thanks dciolek. Your feedback is much appreciated. As Christopher mentioned in his post, the brine was weaker to start with, less salt, because it was a half sour recipe. Now that you have assured me the "full sours" retain their crispness, I will try another batch with more salt and time. I do believe the higher temperature would increase the rate of fermentation, if brewing beer is any indication. Thanks again for your input. It's amazing to get this kind of feedback for such specific questions. You guys are great!
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