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A. Introduction

This chapter is not designed to explain how pickles are manufactured in the United States. Rather, it is designed to show you the critical factors you should look for in assuring the quality of your pickles. The information has been modified from a document issued by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, U.S. Standards for Grades of Pickles. Consult the original document for complete details.

This section contains 11 tables numbered 1 to 11, and they do not appear in the same order as the text references them.

B. Product Description

Pickles are a product prepared entirely or predominantly from cucumbers (Cucumis sativus L). Clean, sound ingredients are used that may or may not have been previously subjected to fermentation and curing in a salt brine. The product is prepared and preserved through natural or controlled fermentation or by direct addition of vinegar to an equilibrated pH of 4.6 or below. The equilibrated pH value must be maintained for the storage life of the product. The product may be further preserved by pasteurization with heat or refrigeration and may contain other vegetables, nutritive sweeteners, seasonings, flavorings, spices, and other permissible ingredients as defined by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). The product is packed in commercialy suitable containers to assure preservation.

C. Styles of Pickles

1. Whole style means the pickles are whole and are relatively uniform in diameter as indicated in a latter discussion (Table 2).

2. Whole, mixed sizes style means the pickles are whole pickles of mixed sizes.

3. Sliced lengthwise style means the pickles are cut longitudinally into halves, quarters, or other triangular shapes (spears, strips, or fingers), or otherwise into units with parallel surfaces with or without ends removed.

4. Sliced crosswise, crosscut, or waffle cut style, means that the pickles are cut into slices transversely to the longitudinal axis. The cut surfaces may have flat-parallel or corrugated-parallel surfaces.

5. Cut style means the pickles are cut into chunks or pieces that are of various sizes and shapes.

6. Relish style means finely cut or finely chopped pickles containing no less than 60 percent of cucumber ingredient and may contain other vegetable ingredients (cauliflower, onions, pepper, tomatoes, cabbage, olives, mustard, or any other suitable vegetable).

D. Types of Pack

1. Cured Type

The pickles are cured by natural or controlled fermentation in a salt brine solution and may contain the dill herb or extracts thereof. The pickle ingredient may be partially desalted. The pickles may be further processed or preserved by the addition of vinegar and may contain other ingredients (spices, flavorings, firming and preserving agents) that constitute the characteristics of the particular type of pickle. The pickles are preserved by acidification to maintain an equilibrated pH of 4.6 or below. The characteristics of the various types of cured pickles are as follows:

1. Dill pickles (natural or genuine) are cucumbers that are cured in a brine solution with dill herb and other flavoring agents.

2. Dill pickles (processed) are brine-cured pickles that have undergone a freshening process and are packed in a vinegar solution with dill flavoring and other flavoring agents.

3. Sour pickles are cured pickles that are packed in a vinegar solution with or without spices.

4. Sweet pickles and mild sweet pickles are cured pickles that are packed in a vinegar solution with suitable nutritive sweetening ingredient(s).

5. Sour mixed pickles are cured pickles that are packed in a vinegar solution. The pickles may be of any style or combination of styles other than relish and may contain other vegetable ingredients as outlined in Table 1 or any other suitable vegetable.

6. Sweet mixed pickles and mild sweet mixed pickles are cured pickles that are packed in a vinegar solution with suitable nutritive sweetening ingredient(s). The pickles may be of any style or combination of styles other than relish and may contain other vegetable ingredients as outlined in Table 1 or any other suitable vegetable.

7. Sour mustard pickles or sour chow chow pickles are cured pickles of the same styles and ingredients as sour mixed pickles except that the pickles are packed in a prepared mustard sauce of proper consistency with or without spices and flavorings.

8. Sweet mustard pickles or sweet chow chow pickles are cured pickles of the same styles and ingredients as sweet mixed pickles except that the pickles are packed in a sweetened prepared mustard sauce of proper consistency with or without spices and flavorings.

Cured, fresh-pack, and refrigerated types (percentage by weight of drained weight of product)

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