Michigan State University Extension
Preserving Food Safely - 01600560


  Fermented  pickles  require more time and effort  to  make
than fresh-pack pickles.  Brined dill pickles are an example
of  fermented pickles that are prepared by soaking cucumbers
in brine (salt  water) for about 3 weeks.  During this time,
lactic  acid   bacteria--which  are   naturally  present  on
cucumbers--convert sugars in the cucumbers into lactic acid.
Lactic acid not only preserves the pickles but  also   gives
them   good flavor.  (Vinegar,  which  contains acetic acid,
gives  fresh-pack pickles a "sharper" flavor.)              

  When  making  the  brine,  measure  the  salt  and   water
carefully.    It  is  important  to  get  just   the   right
concentration  of  salt  so  the lactic acid bacteria--which
can  tolerate  salt--will be able to  grow.   Most  spoilage
organisms  cannot  tolerate salt and will die in the  brine.
If  the brine  is too  salty,  even the lactic acid bacteria
will  die.  If the  brine  is not salty enough,  undesirable
organisms will grow and spoil the pickles.                  

  Make the brine  with cold or  room temperature  water.  Do
not  use  boiling water--it  will  kill  the   lactic   acid
bacteria.   During  fermentation, keep the pickles  at  room
temperature between 68 and 78 degrees Fahrenheit.           

  Fermenting  pickles  must  be  kept  submerged.  Uncovered
pickles  will spoil.  Use a plate to cover the  pickles  and
weight it down with a glass  jar or plastic bags filled with
brine (6 tablespoons salt to 1 gallon of water).  Remove any
scum which forms on the surface of  the  brine daily.    The
scum  consists  of yeasts  which  destroy  lactic  acid  and
produce enzymes  that  make  pickles  soft.   If the scum is
not removed daily, pickles will spoil.                      

  After   three  or  more  weeks,   fermentation  should  be
complete.  Pickles  will  have an olive-green  color  and  a
desirable flavor.  The brine will be cloudy  as a  result of
yeast  growth  during  the  fermentation period.  Strain the
brine, then  heat  it  to  boiling.  Pack the  pickles  into
clean,  hot  jars.   Do  not  wedge  tightly.   Cover   with
boiling hot brine.  Put lids on  the  jars  and process in a
boiling-water bath.                                         

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