Your pickling questions and answers
We've been pickling for over 90 years and in our times we've been asked every question imaginble when it comes to pickling. Here are some of the most popular questions we're asked and our replies based on our experience.
What salt do I need to use for pickling?
We recommend using a fine salt that contains no additives like anti-caking agents or iodine. Fine salt dissolves easier into your brine and the lack of additives which can taint the colour of your pickles and may contain bacteria’s that you want to avoid in your pickles.
What vinegar do I need to use for pickling?
When it comes to pickling you can use whatever vinegar suits your personal taste. As long as the vinegar you use had a 5% acidity you shouldn’t have a problem. Generally, each vinegar has a specific flavour:
- Distilled White Vinegar tends to have an acidic flavour but little aroma. As it is clear, Distilled Vinegar will not affect the colour of your vegetables and also gives you great visibility of your pickles. If used with vegetables such as beetroot or radishes, however, it will change colour.
- Malt Vinegar is the best vinegar to use if you’re looking to achieve a classic ‘pickled onion’ taste. A strong, acidic taste that takes well to spices that is traditionally used to pickle onions, cucumbers (gherkins), and eggs.
- Apple Cider Vinegar is a sweeter alternative if you don’t want the acidic hit of a distilled vinegar.It tends to be mellow in flavour with a fruit undertone from the fermented apples. The sweetness also pairs well with most pickling spices.
Why aren’t my pickles crunchy?
There are a number of reasons that your pickles could be soft. Usually, soft pickled are still perfectly fine to eat.
- This is a prominent issue when pickling onions if they’re not salted enough. We recommend to leave your onions salted overnight then rinse them in the morning. This salt marinade helps the onions keep their crunch.
- Storing your pickles in a warm environment can affect their crunchiness. Firstly, storing any foods, even pickled foods, in a warm environment opens up the risk of bacteria’s and spoiled vegetables will soften. Secondly, vegetables sat in hot brine then left to sit in a warm environment will effectively cook and soften. We recommend letting your pickles in brine cool before sealing tightly and storing in the fridge.
- Your brine or vinegar is too weak. This instance can be similar to the above in that if your brine or vinegar is not at 5% acidity then your pickled will spoil and turn soft.
Why has my pickle brine gone cloudy?
If you’re using spices in your brine then you have the potential to get a little bit of clouding. Submerging vegetables and herbs in liquid will also naturally release some particles, so a cloudy brine is nothing to worry about. However, if there is scum on your brine or if your brine smells rancid we’d recommend discarding that pickle and starting again.
Why has my garlic turned green or blue?
When garlic is exposed to foreign minerals it may turn blue or green. It is not harmful to eat garlic once it’s changed colour so don’t think your whole ferment or pickle is wasted! We recommend using non-reactive pans and utensils – stainless steel and glass equipment is the best.
This is also why we recommend that you use un-chlorinated or purified water as some un-filtered water may contain a high mineral content (including copper) that could affect the colour of your garlic.
There is a white sediment in my pickle brine.
Do not confuse a pickling sediment with a fermenting sediment. In fermenting, a white sediment in your brine is usually harmless and is simply a by product of lactic acid and excess yeast. This is not the case when pickling. A sediment in your pickle brine could be caused in a number of ways:
- There are bacteria in your brine/jar and is a sign of spoiled pickles. If you suspect your sediment is bacteria related, discard the whole pickle and start again.
- The salt you used in your pickle contains an anti-caking agent which has remained in your brine. We recommend using an unrefined, fine sea salt that does not contain any additives.
- You live in a hard-water area and your tap water contains an excess of minerals. In this case we’d recommend using a bottled soft or distilled water for your pickle.
In most instances a sediment, whilst not pleasant to look at, is not a problem to your pickles.