Author Topic: Alum  (Read 2190 times)

Offline Herew

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Alum
« on: August 26, 2012, 09:14:57 PM »
Does anyone know if alum is still an acceptable replacement for "pickle crisp"? I seem to remember reading a few years back that it wasn't safe for home canning pickles and the like.

Thanks in advance!

Offline FromScratchWoman

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Re: Alum
« Reply #1 on: August 26, 2012, 09:21:02 PM »
For thousands of years people have soaked cucumbers in a brine and Alum mixture.  The Alum is what commercial picklers use to make a pickled food crisp.  It penetrates the cells and reinforces the cell walls to prevent mushiness.  Now the USDA has determined that since if a person would eat a tablespoon or two of pure alum they could die Alum is not recommended.. ::)BUT..


Quote
Use of firming agents

Calcium and aluminum salts improve pickle firmness by combining the pectin to make the cucumber more resistant to softening. Alum (aluminum potassium sulfate) has been shown to cause a slight increase in pH and a significant increase in firmness when used at levels up to ¼ teaspoon per pint. Addition of greater than ¼ teaspoon alum per pint decreased the firmness (research done by Marilyn Swanson, Extension Food and Nutrition Specialist, University of Idaho). Alum is sold in the spice section of grocery stores. Too much alum will give pickles a bitter flavor and may cause digestive upset.

Pickling lime (calcium hydroxide) may be used in a lime-water solution for soaking fresh cucumbers 12-24 hours before pickling with vinegar, sugar, and spices. The lime-water solution must be drained after the soak and the cucumbers then washed at least three times in fresh water to ensure safe pickles. This washing is very important because lime is very alkaline and it is essential to remove the lime to be sure the pickle is safely acidified. Several recipes, which use a lime soak, are included in the USDA food preservation guide.

Lime used in pickling must be food-grade. Several food preservation companies now offer food-grade-pickling lime. Lime sold in lumberyards is industrial grade and may contain contaminants.

Water that contains calcium will help produce a firm pickle.

Many old-fashioned pickle recipes call for grape leaves. Grape leaves contain tannins that contribute a bitter flavor to pickles and possibly inhibit enzymes that soften cucumbers.

 

http://whatcom.wsu.edu/family/facts/crisppickles.htm

Offline Herew

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Re: Alum
« Reply #2 on: August 27, 2012, 05:01:32 AM »
Thank you! The wife and I were making a hot pickle mix for her dad and it called for pickle crisp, which we didn't have. I've had alum powder in our spice cabinet for a while, but just wanted to be sure it was ok to use.