Substitutes for Alum in Pickling


Alum, or aluminum potassium sulfate, is synonymous with pickling, yet the effectiveness of aluminum salt appears to be less than once thought. Pickling has come a long way from the days of old, and alum is often replaced by substitutes that enhance firmness, yielding a crisp experience with every bite of the pickle. Substitutions require little more than a large container for a long cucumber soak to firm pectin before the actual pickling process begins.

Things You'll Need

  • Large container
  • Salt

Ice Water Bath

  • Fill a large container with ice water.

  • Place the cucumbers in the icy water.

  • Allow the cucumbers to soak 4 to 5 hours prior to pickling for maximum firmness. Add more ice as needed to keep the water chilled.

Lime Soak

  • Combine a solution of 1 cup food-grade lime and a 1/2 cup salt for every one gallon of water in a large container.

  • Place the cucumbers in the lime solution and allow to soak for 12 to 24 hours prior to pickling.

  • Drain the solution from the container and rinse the cucumbers.

  • Fill the container with cool water and soak the cucumbers for an additional hour in the fresh water to remove absorbed lime.

  • Perform the cool-water soak twice more to ensure all absorbed lime is removed from the cucumbers.

Tips & Warnings

  • Start with the firmest cucumbers possible. Hold the cucumber in your hand and press down firmly on the skin with your fingers. If you feel soft spots, choose another for pickling.

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