Why There is a White Stain on Pickles, and is it Possible to Eat Them

Lovers of home canning often notice a white deposit or turbidity of brine in pickles. This can be a normal healthy residue, or it can be harmful mold. Let’s find out when you can eat pickles with mold and how to prevent it.

Why do pickles get mold on them

A white film on cucumbers can occur for many reasons. Most often it indicates errors in the preparation of cucumbers. The plaque can appear due to poorly washed cucumbers, air getting into the jar, improper storage conditions, and improper dosage.

However, if the cucumbers were pickled without vinegar, but only with salt and water, the plaque is just precipitated acid. This is normal and such a precipitate is considered safe.

When you can and when you can’t eat cucumbers with white sludge

If the scum appeared on the pickled cucumbers and the canning process was followed correctly, it is normal. These cucumbers can be eaten without risk to health. However, they should be washed before use.

If, on the other hand, a coating can be seen in a jar of lightly salted cucumbers – such vegetables should not be eaten. In this case, the white film is mold and can cause poisoning, vomiting, and botulism. Also, any cucumbers with plaque should not be eaten if they have become very soft to the touch, and have acquired an unpleasant, sour taste and smell.

What to do if you notice a coating in a jar

If no more than 3 days have passed since the time of canning, then, if you see a scum, pickles can not be thrown away, but remade. At this stage, they are still edible. To save the cucumbers you need to do the following:

  • drain the brine from the jar;
  • make a new brine, following all the proportions in the recipe
  • add dill, horseradish, garlic, black currant or cherry leaves, and mustard in grains to the marinade – such spices will reduce the likelihood of plaque.
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Written by Emma Miller

I am a registered dietitian nutritionist and own a private nutrition practice, where I provide one-on-one nutritional counseling to patients. I specialize in chronic disease prevention/ management, vegan/ vegetarian nutrition, pre-natal/ postpartum nutrition, wellness coaching, medical nutrition therapy, and weight management.

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