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Canning -- Pickled and Fermented Foods

How do I make salt pickles (also known as brine cucumbers)?

Rating: 54

You need a 4-gallon crock, 12 pounds of cucumbers (rinsed in cold water, if necessary), and 6 quarts of 10 percent brine. Pack the cucumbers in the crock and cover with brine (which is made by dissolving about 1 pound of salt in 9 pints of water). A fresh egg should barely float on top of the brine. Cover with a plate and a weight heavy enough to keep the plate just below the surface of the brine. The following day after making the brine, add more salt at the rate of 1 pound for every 10 pounds of cucumbers to maintain the strength of the brine. At the end of the first week, and at the end of each succeeding week for five weeks, add 1/4-pound of salt for every 10 pounds of cucumbers. When adding salt, always place in on the cover. If the salt is added directly to the brine, it may sink rather than dissolve. This would make the bottom of the brine very salty, and the top of the brine so weak that the pickles would spoil. Remove scum as it forms. Determine when brining is complete by checking the pickles. The pickles should be firm, have a dark olive green color, and taste good. When brining is complete, put the pickles in a kettle, cover them with water, and heat slowly to about 120 degrees F (below boiling). Hold at that temperature for 10 to 12 hours, stirring frequently. If necessary, pour off the water and repeat this process until the pickles have only a slight salty taste. They are then ready to be eaten as salt pickles. If the pickles are to be eaten as salt pickles, soak them until they have just the amount of saltiness desired for an agreeable flavor (about 3 percent salt). Pack into sterile glass jars. Cover with the hot brine in which the pickles were soaked or with fresh 3 percent brine (3 percent brine = 1/2-pound salt to 2 gallons of water). Process quart or half-gallon jars for 15 minutes in a hot-water canner at simmering (199 degrees F.), which is below boiling. Seal the jars with the lids. NOTE: Canning or Pickling salt is made without any other additives so that it will not produce a cloudy brine. Table salt usually has an anti-caking agent which could make the brine slightly cloudy.

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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