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Canning -- Pickled and Fermented Foods

Do grape leaves prevent softening of pickles?

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Yes. The softening of pickles is due to enzymes. These enzymes are chiefly introduced into the curing brine on withering, moldy flowers attached to the cucumbers. One suggested way to inhibit these enzymes is the addition of grape leaves to the pickle pack. The use of grape leaves in cucumber pickles is a very old practice. Studies done in the 1950's showed that grape leaves contain a natural inhibitor against the softening enzymes (pectinolytic and cellulolytic. It was found that the leaves of the Scuppernong grape, a native American variety, yielded the highest concentration of the enzyme.

PREPARED BY: Angela M. Fraser, Ph.D., Associate Professor/Food Safety Specialist, NC State University in July 2004

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