How Are Pickles Made?
A pickle is a fruit or vegetable preserved in a special solution (called brine) of vinegar, salt, and special seasonings after having been fermented in naturally-occurring bacteria.
Today, modern pickling processes have become more automated with new technology and the invention of special machines. The basic science of the methods used, however, has changed very little over the last 4,000 years.
The vegetable most often used for pickles is the cucumber. Cucumbers to be pickled are first soaked in a solution of salt and vinegar. After water, vinegar makes up most of the pickle juice. It also contributes heavily to the pickles’ sour taste.
Often, sugar and such seasonings as mustard, dill, clove and pepper are added for flavor. The pickles are then sealed tightly in jars, where they may be stored for long periods of time before they are eaten.
Particular types of pickles usually have specific ingredients added for special flavors. Some popular examples include dill weed (for dill pickles), allspice, cinnamon, cloves, black pepper, and garlic.
Finally, colorants, preservatives, and stabilizers are often added by pickle manufacturers to lengthen shelf life and increase consistency across batches.
Tomatoes, peppers, beets, peaches and watermelon, as well as meats such as corned beef and pig’s feet, are some other foods that may be pickled. In fact, pickles are so popular that experts estimate as many as five million pounds of pickles are eaten every day around the world!