Pasteurize

Figure 7-4. Non-fermented pickles and their manufacture. Adapted from Harris, 1998

addition, a brine, rather than dry salt, is used for pickle fermentations.Finally, the pickle fermentation process, unlike sauerkraut, is amenable to the use of pure starter cultures and a more controlled fermentation. Indeed, such cultures are now available and some (but not many) pickle manufacturers have adopted controlled fermentation processes (Box 7-3).

The manufacture of fermented pickles starts with selection and sorting of cucumbers (Figure 7-5). Only small or immature cucumbers, harvested when they are green and firm, are used for pickles.They are then washed, sorted, and transferred to tanks, and a brine solution is added.

The brine typically contains at least 5% salt (or about 20° salometer, where 100° salometer = 26% salt). Because the cucumbers-to-brine ratio is nearly 1:1, the actual salt concentration is actually less. For so-called salt stock pickles, which may be held in bulk for long periods, the initial brine may contain 7% to 8% salt, which is followed by the addition of more salt to raise the total salt concentration to above 12%. For gen uine dill-type pickles, the brine concentration is usually between 7.5% and 8.5%. Dill weed is also added, usually in the seed or oil form.

Care must be taken when weighing down the pickles, because the buoyancy of the cucumbers may cause those at the top to become damaged.The large tanks used by large pickle manufacturers are usually located outdoors, and temperatures may, therefore, vary between 15°C to 30°C.The lower the temperature, the longer it takes to complete the fermentation. Thus, in Michigan (the largest northern producer of pickles), fermentation may require up to two months,whereas in North Carolina (the main southern producer), fermentations may be complete in three weeks.At the end of the fermentation, the pH will be about 3 5, with acidities between 0.6% and 1.2% (as lactic).

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