June 22, 2007

Why Didn't my Pickles Stay Crisp?

I admit that my home canned pickles (dill) get soft and it drives me crazy. I've used recipes completely from scratch, I've used dill pickle mixes. I've used 3 different kinds of cucumbers. Nada. The odd thing was that one season I had 2 quarts stay semi-crisp but the rest got soft. Now that was confusing!

I came across the advice from people 'in the know' - the makers of Bell and Kerr brand canning equipment.

There are several factors that may cause a soft pickle:

  • * using a vinegar with an acidity level that is less than 5%;
  • * pickles were not processed or not processed long enough in a boiling-water canner to destroy spoilage microorganisms;
  • * variety of cucumber used;
  • * brine was too weak when fermenting cucumbers;
  • * cucumbers were not completely covered with brine while fermenting;
  • * cucumbers were not completely covered with liquid when packed in the jar;
  • * scum was not removed from top of brine while fermenting;
  • * improper storage or handling of cucumbers before pickling.
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