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Canning -- Pickled and Fermented Foods

Should pickled beets be processed in a pressure canner?

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Pickled products are high acid foods. Therefore they are processed to destroy spoilage microorganisms - bacteria, yeast, and molds - that could be present on or in these products. The processing time is very short (usually about 10 minutes). Therefore, it is considered to be a mild heat treatment. If pickled products were processed in a pressure canner, the products would likely become mushy - an undesirable characteristic of pickled foods. USDA has sponsored the identification of pressure processing instructions because the resulting product would not be high quality. This is an example of a safe product not being a desirable product. In fact, there is an alternative process for SOME cucumber pickle recipes. This is called low temperature pasteurization. It is a process that is completed at water temperatures less than boiling (185 degrees F compared to 212 degrees F). This process can yield a crisper pickle. CAUTION: Low temperature pasteurization should only be used with pickle recipes that clearly state that this process is acceptable.

PREPARED BY: Angela M. Fraser, Ph.D., Associate Professor/Food Safety Specialist, and Carolyn J. Lackey, Ph.D., R.D., L.D.N., Professor/Food and Nutrition Specialist, North Carolina State University. (August 2004)

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