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Alum? Help please!

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HappyCamper photos
Joined: 7/13/2008
Location: SW Missouri
Posts: 20
Posted: Jul/15/2008 12:16 AM PST

I want to make crispy pickles, but am afraid to use alum. I read that it isn't safe to use unless you use it in a cold bath first and rinse it off of the vegetables really well before canning. But then some recipes call for a pinch or so in the jar before you seal it.

How do you use it? What is safe?

I have heard that you can also use pickling lime, but I don't know anything about that either. Which is easiest, if both are "safe"?

Thanks in advance!
Canned_Nerd photos
Joined: 4/12/2008
Location: Southern California, USA
Posts: 229
Posted: Jul/15/2008 10:24 AM PST

Quote:
Originally posted by HappyCamper
I want to make crispy pickles, but am afraid to use alum.

I would not recommend using Alum at all, even for crispier pickles. It is a poison and dangerous to use, especially if you are a novice. There are far better ways.

There is also Pickling Lime and I don't really recommend that either, but it is safer than Alum. Too me it is too complicated and messy.

I would recommend (1) just soaking pickles in ice water before being processed; or (2) adding a teaspoon or so of "Calcium Chloride" to each jar before it is sealed, or (3) adding a grape leaf to each jar.

Calcium Chloride, also known as the Ball Canning "Pickle Crisp", is what I use and it is great stuff, safe and natural. Unfortunately they have recently quit making it for reasons unknown (I have emailed them) so it may be scarce. Canning Pantry and Amazon.com are out. Fortunately you can buy it in its generic form online, in home brewing stores, and similar. Pool supplies also have it but that's not food grade. Calcium Chloride is also used commercially to keep your frozen veggies firm.

Here's a BulkFoods.com link: http://www.bulkfoods.com/search_results.asp?txtsea rchParamTxt=4231&txtsearchParamCat=1&txtsearchPara mType=ALL&txtsearchParamMan=ALL&txtsearchParamVen= ALL&txtFromSearch=fromSearch
HappyCamper photos
Joined: 7/13/2008
Location: SW Missouri
Posts: 20
Posted: Jul/15/2008 12:29 PM PST

Thank you so much! That is EXACTLY what I needed to know!

Now....as for adding a grape leaf: we don't grow grapes. Is that something I can purchase at the store? Thanks again!
Canned_Nerd photos
Joined: 4/12/2008
Location: Southern California, USA
Posts: 229
Posted: Jul/15/2008 2:14 PM PST

I don't grow grapes either and I have no idea if the canned/bottled ones found in some ethic/specialty stores would still have the needed chemical in them to work. Somebody else might know.
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