Sunday, August 9, 2009

Brine Dilution

A couple of weeks ago I told you how I started a batch of pickled onions. At the time I expected the onions to be ready in about 10 to 14 days. Well, I am happy to report that after about 16 days in the aging room they were almost done. On the day that these pictures were taken the onions had softened to the texture of a peeled Macintosh or Macoun apple and were almost sour enough to be considered a proper pickle ( I'm guessing pH 4.0; my pH meter is dead.).

They were, however, too salty so I diluted the brine from 5 to 3.5% salinity.


Mike Pardus said...

I have been having great success with starting my pickles in a 5% brine for 24 hours, then rinsing and starting fresh with 3% brine. In the second brine (3%) I also put garlic, dill, mustard seed, chilies - what ever I feel like.

The rational behind starting with a 5% brine and then switching to 3% is that initially the brine will draw water out of the vegetable and dilute, but since all of the salt is still in there, the end result is unpalatable. Drawing the water from the veg for a day in 5% brine gives you a more stable place to start the actual fermentation.I'm also seeing that at room temp - 75F - the transformation is much quicker than you're getting in the aging room. I see large kirby cucumbers go to "half-sour" in 2-3 days and "full sour" in about 7 days.

This year I'm growing my own Cucumbers and putting them in the brine with only a cursory rinse in cool tap water before starting. The fermentation seems to be quicker, stronger, and more stable.I'm attributing it to the freshness of the "bloom" on the outside of the cuke. I wonder if your onion ferment might benefit from the addition of a friendly cucumber tossed into the tank. What do you think?

Bob del Grosso said...

The long fermentation time here is clearly a function of the fact that the onions were peeled and washed and the low temp (<60 degrees F) in the aging room. Adding a cucumber (or any unwashed veg from the garden) should speed things up and I will try it if they are not done by week's end. Great idea.

Scotty said...


I can send you pH test strips ;-)

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