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Canning -- Pickled and Fermented Foods

Why do pickles turn dark and black?

Rating: 97

Darkness may be caused by used of ground spices, too much spice, leaving the spices in the pickling solution when packed for processing (especially cinnamon, allspice, cloves), iodized salt, corrosion of the lid after long storage, minerals in water (especially iron), using iron utensils, using a dark vinegar (cider). These make the appearance undesirable but the products are edible. Black pickles may be caused by the growth of a black, pigmented bacteria, Bacillus nigrificans. Do not eat black pickles.

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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