Yesterday was the first day that I cracked open a jar of the pickles my stepmom and I made a couple of weeks ago. I was so excited and the anticipation was making me drool. After chomping unceremoniously down on the first of my Garlic Dill slices, it was wonderful. Or the flavor was quite wonderful. It’s full of garlic, how can it not be?
But after analysizing this more carefully, I noticed that my pickles were not crispy. They lacked that crunch that most store bought pickles have and I couldn’t stop wondering where my pickle processing went wrong.
So I consulted my two Ball canning books. One is the Ball Blue Book Guide to Preserving, and the other I picked up a couple months ago, being the Ball Complete Book of Home Preserving. They were wonderfully helpful, not to mention easy to use. When you’re searching for the answers to your problems, thel ast thing you want to do is flip through endless numbers of pages, getting lost and jumbled…I found the answers right away.
Luckily, the preserving of the pickles had been done correctly in terms of canning safety and they are sealed nice and air tight.
Now there were no spots, sediments, odd colors, or weird tastes, just a general lack of crunchiness.
To break it down there are plenty of reasons my pickles bombed in this regard…
They might have been a variety not typically recommended for pickling. They were on the larger side of pickling cukes, but they weren’t an english cuke, or standard cuke we are used to.
The mix of seasoning I used perhaps didn’t have adequate amounts of crisping agent. So, next time – I’ll have to invest in a jar of Pickle Crisp.
Or, even the brine was maybe just to weak in general to pickle them ‘enough’. To make up for this the all-knowing Ball book says to use a conjunction of canning salt and vinegar with 5% acidity, mkaing sure that the proportions are right.
And lastly, the pickles could have been underprocessed. I’m guessing that mine were processed long enough, since I did after all follow the directions to a tee and haven’t died from eating the pickles yet…
For a first shot at pickle making, I still consider it a success. They might not be perfect, but rarely do things always go completely right the first time you do them. And hey, there is the batch of Bread and Butter Pickles that I made – maybe those are everything I had hoped for.