This article is from the Food Preserving FAQ, by Eric Decker firstname.lastname@example.org with numerous contributions by others.
Suzanne Chandler sends this article:
From PNW 355 (Pacific Northwest Bulletin 355 which is based on the USDA's
"Complete Guide to Home Canning"
"Preservation by Pickling
Microorganisms are always present on vegetables. Home canning prevents the
growth of those that cause spoilage and illness. When the scidity of a canned
food is high, harmful bacteria like 'Clostridium botulinum' <shudder> can't
grow. That's why pickling (the addition of acid) prevents spoilage:
There are two types of pickles:
1.) Brined (fermented) pickles require several weeks of 'curing' at room
temperature. During this period, colors and flavors change. Acid is produced
as lactic acid bacteria grow.
2.) Quick (unfermented) pickles are made in 1 or 2 days by adding acid in the
form of vinegar. It's critical to add enough vinegar to prevent bacterial
[Suzanne's comments: remember the bacteria you are preventing is the feared
'Clostridium botulinum" which can be odorless, invisible, and still deadly.
Also the last sentance of option one reads funny (according to me). What it is
saying is that as the lactic acid bacteria grow, they produce enough acid to
wipe out there fellow bacterias.
Also, the the lactic acid bacterias in the Brined pickles are activated by the
salt, so you must follow the salt instructions to the letter and only use
canning or pickling salt. The salt included in recipes for Quick pickles is
Sounds like you, Glen that is, have a fermented pickle recipe. Here is a Quick
Pickle recipe from the same publication.
4 lb pickling cucumbers (4 inch)
14 garlic cloves, split
1/4 C pickling salt
2 and 3/4 C Vinegar (5%)
3 cups water
14 heads fresh dill
Yield 6 to 7 pints
Procedure. Wash cucumbers and cut in half lengthwise. Heat garlic, salt,
vinegar and water to boiling. Remove garlic and place 4 halves into each pint
or quart jar. Pack cucmbers into jar, adding 2 heads dill and 4 peppercorsn.
Pour hot vinegar colution over the cucmbers to within 1/2 inch of the top.
Adjust lids and use conventional boiling-water canner processing <snip>pints
for 10 minutes and quarts for 15 minutes at sea level. (15 and 20 at 1001-6000
ft, 20 and 25 at above 6000 ft.)
[more Suzanne comments: the seasoning can be fooled with, but don't even think
about adjusting the vinegar water ratio. I use the grape leaf trick for
crispiness and wouldn't even try to make pickles without it: the tannins in
the leaf reduce the impact of pickle softening enzymes.
> I come to me knees :-)
Well toss up a little pickle prayer while you are there! Good luck, let me
know if you need more info.