Submitted to: Journal of Food Science
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: February 18, 1996
Publication Date: N/A
Interpretive Summary: Current technology requires that high concentrations of salt be added to brined cucumbers in order to insure preservation. Spoilage microorganisms may grow and produce off flavors or toxins, and the cucumber may soften if the salt concentration is too low. However, excess salt must be washed from the cucumbers after storage before further processing, which results in additional pollution of wastewater streams. The EPA has issued strict guidelines for chloride discharge, which many pickle companies currently cannot meet. In this study we show that addition of a small concentration of hydrochloric acid to fermented cucumbers can reduce the concentration of salt needed to insure stability of the cucumbers. Also, we show that this concentration must be optimized to avoid adverse effect on firmness retention of the cucumbers.
Technical Abstract: Acidification of fermented cucumbers with HCl was shown to prevent utilization of lactic acid and resultant microbial spoilage when the cucumbers were fermented and stored at 0 or 4.4% NaCl. Firmness retention of the fermented cucumbers was reduced, however, if the brine pH was too low. An optimum pH of 3.5 was determined for storing brine-stock fermented dcucumbers to assure microbial stability and acceptable firmness retention at 4.4% NaCl. At 0% salt, pH 3.0 was required to insure microbial stability, which resulted in unacceptable firmness retention. Addition of 0.1% Na benzoate reduced but did not eliminate the need to reduce the pH to assure microbial stability. Indicators of microbial instability included rise in pH; loss of lactic acid; production of acetic, propionic, and butyric acids; and production of n-propanol. Evidence indicated that pH control can be used to reduce the need for salt to insure stability of fermented cucumbers.