Regulation of Cucumber Pickle Curing

Pickling Cucumber Improvement Committee Meeting Abstract

Ron Buescher and Cathy Hamilton

University of Arkansas

Curing of pickled vegetables is the transformation of internal tissues from a bright-white and opaque appearance to an almost colorless and translucent appearance. Curing occurs when cucumbers, peppers, cabbage, and other vegetables are stored in brine. The cured appearance is desirable for fermented products, and salt-stock pickles are not commonly processed until they are ‘brine-cured’. In contrast, the appearance of cured tissue is the primary factor that limits the market life of sliced, fresh-pack products since it is associated with loss of freshness. Considering the commercial importance of the cured appearance, the development of methods that either accelerate or retard curing could have a significant impact on the storage time before manufacturing brined cured pickles or extending the market life of fresh-pack pickle products.

We have been investigating pickle curing for several years, and the objective of this presentation is to summarize observations on factors that affect and may have potential for regulating the pickle curing process.

Factors Affecting Curing of Salt Stock Pickle:

  • Cucumber Maturity – increases as maturity increases
  • Brine Temperature – increases with increasing brine temperature
  • Brining Procedure – 50 compared to 100E salometer cushion brine enhances curing
  • Protein Hydrolysis – accelerates curing
  • Reducing Agents – sulfite, cysteine or glutathione accelerates curing.

Factors Affecting Curing of Sliced Fresh Pack Pickles:

  • Cucumber Maturity – 3A’s cure less rapidly than 3B’s
  • Storage/Handling – more rapid curing as storage/handling time increases
  • Temperature – rate of curing decreases as the product storage temperature decreases
  • Pressure During Process – low or excessively high pressure during pasteurization causes accelerated curing
  • Temperature and Time of Process – excessive pasteurization temperature and/or time increases curing
  • Spice/Flavor Formulation – certain spices and flavorants cause accelerated curing
  • Oxidants – certain oxidizing agents reduce curing.

For further information, contact:

  • Dr. R. W. Buescher
  • University of Arkansas, Fayetteville, AR 72701
  • Telephone: 501-575-4775; Fax: 501-575-6936
  • E-mail:

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