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Quick pickles

Every recipe I see for quick pickles says to bring the brine to a boil (usually not including the spices) and then cool it before pouring over whatever is being pickled. Is there some chemical reason for this? Does the vinegar *need* to come to boil? Or put another way, does it make a difference if you combine the vinegar, water, salt, and sugar at room temperature and just make sure the salt and sugar are completely dissolved?

asked by vvvanessa over 2 years ago
4 answers 1827 views
P1291120
added over 2 years ago

Great question, and this is really only a guess -- but I'm guessing that it is as you think, simply to be 100% sure the salt and sugar have dissolved. I'm thinking that if it isn't properly dissolved, you may not have a consistent brine -- so maybe even pockets of salt, which would ultimately mean the possibility that the overall acid level of the brine isn't consistent and the further possibility that your pickling might fail (all the way from simply not tasting consistent to allowing development of the-- rightfully -- dreaded botulism). Don't know about you, but thinking as I'm typing, I've convinced myself that it is an essential step. :)

Photo
added over 2 years ago

I wondered the same thing, so I've tried both hot and cold brine methods for quick pickling. At least for pickling cucumbers, I prefer the cold method. The color of the cucumbers stays nice and bright, too. Any concerns about having a consistent brine can be addressed just by shaking the closed jar after you've packed in the goods. Sugar and salt dissolve very readily in the brine without heating it.

Of course, this applies only to quick pickling (i.e., refrigerator pickles)! Don't try it for foods or recipes that call for proper canning processing in sterilized jars, etc. intended for storage. That's where the concerns about botulism and other horrors arise...

P1291120
added over 2 years ago

Excellent clarification point on the difference between refrigerator pickles and canning for long-term, shelf-stable, storage -- thanks! :)

Dsc00426
added over 2 years ago

Thanks for your input! I just happened to be doing a search for Japanese pickled cucumbers (and other veggies), and oddly enough, most of the recipes don't call for heating the vinegar and water. What's interesting, too, is that if you pour hot brine over say, snap peas, the peas turn really pale (as I learned a couple of months ago), but if you let the brine cool, the peas retain more of their color. So it just seems like a long extra step to heat the brine just to let it cool. Again, for a quick pickle, not a preserved one.