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Fermented pickle question -- Are these okay?

post #1 of 4
Thread Starter 

Okay, so I made these pickles.  I checked the seals and put them in the cabinet.  The one that didn't seal I put in the fridge.  Now, a few weeks later, none of them are actually sealed and they have white sediment at the bottom of the jar.  I assume this is some kind of yeast or bacteria from fermentation.  They smell and taste fine, and dh fed some to the kids yesterday before I got home and there are no apparent ill effects.


So, my question is, is it fine to eat these?  Should I refrigerate them now?  Should I rinse them and re-pack in fresh brine?


Here's what I did:

-packed sterile canning jars with washed pickling cucumbers, washed grape leaf, dill tops, peeled garlic, and pickling spice.

-poured hot (boiling) brine over them.  It was 1/2 water, 1/2 white vinegar (apparently the recipe didn't call for salt or I overlooked it -- dumb, because pickles are so much better with salt!)

-covered with hot, sterile canning lids and let them cool.


Because of the no-salt thing, I was thinking of rinsing them and re-packing in salt water and putting them in the fridge, but if what's in there is okay, I could just add salt, shake them and refrigerate.


I am not super-experienced in pickling or fermentation, although I have dabbled in kimchi, kombucha, yogurt, and kefir, and my husband makes beer and wine.


Please share your knowledge and info with me!



post #2 of 4

hi! i strange thing about a lot of pickle recipes is that sometimes they are called "pickles" when they're not actually "fermented", which can only be done with salt! vinegar is a fermented product and is used to sort of flavor the cucumbers, but doesnt actually ferment them. after they are fermented by salt brine they can be flavored with ACV...


most true ferment recipes ive seen involved putting the cukes in a crock with salt and some water and weighting them under the liquid. this inhibits the growth of that white film (being under the liquid)...i have heard of this happening even in crock pickles and i guess traditionally they were washed off and then repacked with herbs and vinegar water. so my understanding is that the film is not a problem, unless it of course tastes bad. i have always eaten filmy ferments- usually scoop off the top layer of kraut when i gets like that...


check out the wild fermentation web site and forums- on facebook too!

post #3 of 4

I agree with PP, your pickles are not fermented but actually just preserved. However, your preservation methods are not the safest for long term storage. When you only add hot brine or water to the food, but skip the step of putting the jars in a hot water bath; the food has not been preserved properly.


Part of the problem is that the temperature of the brine has not reached a hot enough level thoroughly around the food before it was sealed. The jar can easily seal in the bacteria. Or just become unsealed. Storing this method in the fridge (called refridgerator pickles) solves the issue.


For fermented pickles you want to add your cucumbers to any clean jar or crock. It does not have to be a canning jar. Add your spices, salt and lacto fermenter like whey or kefir liquid. (you can find recipes in books or online) You can skip the lacto fermentation if you add more salt, but usually you need to add a lot. I loosely cover the jar with cheese cloth and wait for a few days until it tastes as sour as I like. Then I always store in the fridge. You can store in a seller or other means of cold storage if have it available.


Foods like cabbage do not need lacto fermentation because they have natural yeasts in their leaves ( so do grapes), but other foods need it. The lacto fermentation and salt both help to raise the level of good bacteria and prevent the food from spoiling while it ferments on the counter.


For correct fermentation the food cannot be heated. That is why if you can fermented foods it destroys the good bacteria.

Edited by rhianna813 - 9/14/11 at 3:05pm
post #4 of 4
Thread Starter 

Okay.  I know how to make pickles and water bath can them in brine with vinegar.  I also know how to make fermented foods with salt.


Here's the deal.  I did exactly what I said above, and there was a white residue in the BOTTOM of the jars, not the white film that we get on sauerkraut.  If I shook the jars the liquid became very cloudy.  It has to be some kind of fermentation -- must be yeast or bacteria or something.  I was mostly looking for an answer about that.


I have been researching and asking around and have decided that nothing could have grown in there in 3 weeks that would have made them unsafe to eat, and they taste just fine.  To improve the flavor I rinsed them and re-packed in salt water and put them in the fridge.

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