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For Sandor-What is the Key to Keeping Dill Pickles Crisp?

 
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Location: Zone 9B Santa Rosa, CA
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My dill pickles taste OK, but I am not getting the texture right. They are too mushy.

Thank you,

Julie
 
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What makes vegetables crunchy are compounds called pectins. Vegetables also enzymes have enzymes called pectinase enzymes that digest the pectins, and they tend to act more quickly in watery summer vegetables such as cucumbers. Cool temperatures slow down these enzymes so your pickles can stay crunchier longer, as does salt. People often add grape leaves, oak leaves, horseradish leaves, sour cherry leaves, or other tannin-rich leaves to pickles because they too help slow the action of the pectinase enzymes. Hope that helps!
 
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Location: Bluegrass region of Kentucky, USDA Zone 6a - unpredictable but manageable
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People often add grape leaves, oak leaves, horseradish leaves, sour cherry leaves, or other tannin-rich leaves to pickles



so, how subtly do these anti-pectinase additives affect the flavor of the pickles. I make garlic/dill pickles and pickled onions but I don't really want to mess with the flavor. I've had the same issue with the pickles losing their "crunch", so this sounds appealing...but at what cost? Thanks!
 
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Sandor Katz wrote:What makes vegetables crunchy are compounds called pectins. Vegetables also enzymes have enzymes called pectinase enzymes that digest the pectins, and they tend to act more quickly in watery summer vegetables such as cucumbers. Cool temperatures slow down these enzymes so your pickles can stay crunchier longer, as does salt. People often add grape leaves, oak leaves, horseradish leaves, sour cherry leaves, or other tannin-rich leaves to pickles because they too help slow the action of the pectinase enzymes. Hope that helps!



That's great to know about the tannins affecting crispness of fermented foods. I had just tried adding some grape leaves to a batch of cuc's I was experimenting with, for this very reason.
 
Sandor Katz
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Adam, these leafy additions to the pickles help make it taste great. No adverse effect on flavor at all.
 
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I used to know a transplanted farmer's daughter who made the greatest pickles (and jams)!
(Rest In Peace, Gracie.)

Once I drove her to the 'Eastside' (of the Cascades) to buy her bushels of cukes & fruits.
As soon as she bought them, she would dump them in an ice chest.
"You have to keep them cool, or they'll turn mushy." were her words.

So, if it takes you several days to harvest enough for a batch, store them in the 'fridge.

And, YES. She used to put in pieces of grape leaves in each jar.

 
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