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Low temperature pasteurization experiment

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    Posted: 23 February 2012 at 05:29
I'm not sure how, but I neglected to post this batch of dills I did last season. Better late than never, I suppose.

Default Low Temp Pasteurization Experiment

Well folks, in an effort to make my dill pickles crispy and crunchier than any I have made to date, I decided to embark upon an experiment in low temperature pasteurization. Purportedly, if you can keep the processing temperature of your pickles below 185° F they will retain a much better texture than if you process them in a traditional boiling water bath.

The speed bumps encountered during this process are considerable, as you must attain a temperature of between 180°F and 185° F and keep it there for 30 minutes.

Obviously, the first consideration should be "how accurate are my thermometers?" Well, I calibrated both of 

mine before starting, and gave my Therma-pen the final say.

This was a very simple recipe to get started with...the brine was simply white vinegar, water and kosher salt. As I packed the jars, I also used sprigs of fresh dill and minced garlic.

I started by washing the cukes and trimming the blossom end from all of them, and sterilizing my jars, lids, and rings.


Cut up some fresh dill from my neighbor's garden and got ready to stuff the jars.


Brought the hot water bath up to around 150°F and waited until the jars were in to add more water and bring it to processing temp.


Brought my brine up top a boil and then removed it from the heat while I packed the jars as tightly as humanly possible.


After the jars were packed, I added 1/8 tsp of pickle crisp to each, then topped them off with brine to within 1/4 inch of the lid. Then into the bathtub they go.


Since I really am as anal as they come...paranoid to the nth degree, I decided to get out the therma-pen and double-check the temps every 90 seconds throughout the experiment.


Kept checking every 90 seconds, and managed to keep the bath at an average temp of 182.6°F +- .8 degrees, well withing the USDA prescribed limits.

When I removed the jars I could hear them popping as they sealed, like normal...the pickle quality remains to be seen. I'll update this thread in about 4 weeks when I pop the lid on the first jar and sample them.



These pickles turned out wonderful....after waiting a few weeks (it was very difficult) we sampled them, and they were nice and crisp...sort of like a Clausen pickle that you get in the dairy case at the market.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote HistoricFoodie Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 23 February 2012 at 05:56
Where did that temp range come from? CDC says 175F for a "sustained" period.
 
I suspect that what's really going on is this: "Normal" pickling involves pouring a hot brine into the jars, than boiling water bath processing. The result is that the pickles get cooked, and turn soft because of it. 
 
In your case, the brine is providing the anti-bacterial environment, and the lower temperature process is just enough so the jars seal.
 
In effect, you are demonstrating that open-kettle canning, when done properly, is perfectly safe---despite USDA's dire warnings to the contrary.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Hoser Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 24 February 2012 at 02:16
Originally posted by HistoricFoodie HistoricFoodie wrote:

Where did that temp range come from? CDC says 175F for a "sustained" period.
 
I suspect that what's really going on is this: "Normal" pickling involves pouring a hot brine into the jars, than boiling water bath processing. The result is that the pickles get cooked, and turn soft because of it. 
 
In your case, the brine is providing the anti-bacterial environment, and the lower temperature process is just enough so the jars seal.
 
In effect, you are demonstrating that open-kettle canning, when done properly, is perfectly safe---despite USDA's dire warnings to the contrary.

Those temperatures actually did come from the USDA initially Brook, but I got them from the National Center for Home Food Preservation which is an adjunct to the USDA.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote HistoricFoodie Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 24 February 2012 at 07:35
I'm very familiar with NCHFP, Dave.
 
One slight disagreement: Although the NCHFP is funded by USDA grants, and while it is associated with a land grant college (U of GA), it does independent food safety work. So I wouldn't call it an adjunct to USDA. In fact, NCHFP and USDA often disagree---in which cases I go with NCHFP every time.
 
One of the differences: NCHFP does not use "untested" and "unsafe" as synonyms.
 
Anyway, what's important is that the pickles came out great.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Hoser Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 24 February 2012 at 15:24
I stand corrected Brook...and thank you for your insight.Thumbs Up
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote HistoricFoodie Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 25 February 2012 at 06:32
Rereading my post, Dave, it comes across as a shot at you. Let me apologize for that. It wasn't my intent.
 
What I was trying to do was show support for the National Center, while distancing it from USDA---which, if you haven't picked up on, is my least favorite government agency. I just can't stand its paternalistic attitude, and the fact it considers you and me idiots.
 
It sometimes happens that Ball, the National Center, and CDC contradict USDA. In each case, my approach is to accept the other guys, because their conclusions are based on research, not on a preconcieved notion of protecting the children from themselves.
 
You need go no further than USDA's great boggyman: boutulism. If you were to believe them, boutulism rans rampant in home-canned foods and we are all in grave danger of dying hideously from it.
 
But if you do a little research on boutulism in North America, you have to wonder what the shouting is all about. There are so few cases (and most of them are multiples of the same event) that no insurance company would keep actuarial figures on it. But for USDA it's the big issue.
 
I'm gonna stop right now, before I really get on my soapbox.
 
Again, apologies for the sound of my post.
 
Brook
 
 
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Hoser Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 26 February 2012 at 02:53
Brook, I did not interpret your post as a personal shot at me...being around these boards and participating you often see a post that can be interpreted in different ways.  You learn to get a thick skin pretty quickly, and to understand that unlike the spoken word, one cannot read inflection that may be intended.

For the record I'm not very fond of the USDA my self, but in a food safety situation we always give the federal guideline precedence when answering a question in the forum.

Don't worry...no offense taken.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote ChrisFlanders Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 02 April 2012 at 06:13

This thread evokes a lot of childhood memories! Also, here's apparantly a very different approach on preserving that may interest both of you, Dave and Brook.

As teenagers we helped a lot with sterilizing, mostly green beans. The most work however went in processing gurkins and peeling those white very small onions that we called silveronions or "zilveruitjes". Green beans were sterilized but not the onions and gurkins.

Like the onions, the gurkins were harvested when they were very small and thin, much smaller than the ones you processed, Dave, maybe another variety? As you may presume, the small gurkins were used on their whole.

I also remember onions (peeled) and gurkins were dry-salted (generous plain kitchensalt) the evening before. Overnight they lost a lot of water. This liquid was discarted and the gurkins were simply quickly rinsed under running water. The gurkins were then pushed in their jars and they were submerged by a boiling hot white vinegar mixture. I don't recall how they made that mixture exactly but I do think it was just vinegar and maybe a little water(?), I'd have to ask around how they proceeded.

The jars were closed and went in the cellar like that without sterilizing, or, maybe small correction; the empty jars were rinsed with boiling hot water and let to dry upside down on a clean kitchentowel before filling them. Opened jars went back in the cellar after eating some, they preserved until the very last gurkin was fished out of the remaining brine.

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