Why Do We Soak Cucumbers in Water Overnight Prior to Pickling?

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Using a method known as brining, almost anyone can pickle a fresh vegetable such as a cucumber. Brining is the process of enhancing certain flavors by marinating edibles in a mixture of salt and water for up to six weeks. Chemical reactions and changes occur during brining that result in the flavor change, and seasonings can further change the flavor of the final product. The level of acetic acid contained in a pickled product also is important and affects safety as well as taste and texture.

Good Pickles Are Firm

  • When pickling cucumbers, preserving firmness for a crunchy texture is important to produce a good pickle.

Soaking Cucumbers Before Brining

  • Since the acids released during fermentation can negatively impact texture, cucumbers should be soaked for 12 to 24 hours prior to brining. Soaking them in water mixed with either lime or alum increases firmness.

Pickle Safety

  • Soaking cucumbers in mixtures containing either alum or lime produces a dangerous chemical reaction that is absorbed into the skin of the vegetable. As a result, removal of the excess additive (lime or alum) absorbed by the cucumber is necessary after soaking for consumption safety of the pickle.

References

  • "Journal of Food Science"; Firmness Retention of Pickled Peppers As Affected by Calcium Chloride, Acetic Acid, and Pasteurization; Fleming, Thompson, and McFeeters; Volume 58, No. 2, 1993
  • Yum Sugar: Brine
  • Photo Credit Appetizer. Preserves. Plate of mixed pickles/pickle image by L. Shat from Fotolia.com three cucumbers image by Victor B from Fotolia.com
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