Does anyone have experience with lime or alum for pickling? Where do I find them, how do they work? Recommended? Risks?
Great resources, but I just wanted to put in a vote for Team Vinegar. If your vegetables are in season, you don't need to use lime or alum to keep them crisp! Plus, it's all natural and risk-free.
Thank you thank u thank u!! Will report back, made a batch of watermelon pickles without lime or alum yesterday, will try some more and let u know. Recipe 2 follow. So excited, haven't had watermelon pickle since my momstopped canning about 40 yrs ago. :))
ChefOno is exactly, right, on with his advice.
Kenzi - I'm sorry to say that vinegar alone is not always sufficient to keep pickles crisp (hence, I'm sure, the question). Much has to do with the actual type of cucumber used (best results: stay with pickling cucumbers and avoid all the table varieties) as well as the method and recipe. And for all that is important to you in life: if you want a shelf-stable result stay with tested recipes!!! Unless you are making quick pickles that will always be in the fridge, DO NOT IMPROVISE!! While it may seem like a great and fun idea to add more onions or other items to your pickling recipe, that can throw off the ultimate acid balance with potentially AWFUL (and I'm not talking taste, I'm talking paralysis or worse) results.
I love tweaking recipes in the kitchen, using my creative flare to adjust recipes to my taste. But I also know where the boundaries are, and they are in all canning that is intended to be shelf stable. There, improvisation is absolutely forbidden.
Having said all that, I'm now focusing on "watermelon pickle". When I make those, I'm not concerned about crisp in the same way I would be with dill pickles. I made them recently using the Ball cookbook recipe and it did not call for adding any pickle crisping agent, and I didn't add one. They aren't really a crisp pickle anyhow.
So, pickle crisping agents are great when you want a crisp (not soggy) result. But with watermelon rind pickles, that isn't really an issue so I'd skip it.