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I've home-canned some pickled vegetables recently and there is a cloudy sediment in the brine. I'd like to know what causes it and how to prevent it.

It is not spoilage. It only seems to affect the visual aesthetic of the pickles.

Here is an image that shows the sediment near the bottom of the jar enter image description here

The recipe I'm using is "End of Garden Pickles" on page 323 of Ball's Complete Book of Home Preserving. The ingredients are zucchini, green beans, carrots, pearl onions, bell pepper, vinegar, sugar, dry mustard, mustard seeds, pickling salt, ground cinnamon, ground ginger. I've seen it with other recipes too though.

It seems like the cause is probably hard water or starch in the vegetables from this document's mention of "white sediment". Also, this document on judging pickles acknowledges the occurrence of sediment and suggests it's preventable. Unfortunately, neither document shows a picture to compare against and neither gives a tip to prevent it if the problem is starch.

Does anyone recognize this sediment and know how to prevent or reduce it?

2 Answers 2

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"Fresh, whole spices are best to use for pickles. Powdered spices may cause the product to darken and the brine to become cloudy."

https://www.canr.msu.edu/news/prevent_pickling_problems

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  • Thanks for taking the time to answer. Is your answer simply an additional plausible cause to consider, or do you have reason to think powdered spices specifically is the cause of the cloudiness I'm seeing? E.g., have you run into this too?
    – user55937
    May 22, 2022 at 12:35
  • I've definitely had ground spice sediment… Which doesn't guarantee that you are experiencing that too, but it MIGHT also be the case for you. Maybe try the recipe again with whole spices and see if that changes anything? May 22, 2022 at 16:04
  • Looking at it a little closer, I think you're right. I think it's spice sediment. But I also suspect it's suspended in the brine the way it is because the brine is slightly thickened by the starch in the vegetables. I'm going out on a limb here, but I think the brine is thickened in places - kind of like a very thin corn starch gravy. If you rotate the jar, all the sediment moves together in a kind of coagulated state. Thanks again.
    – user55937
    May 24, 2022 at 1:39
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It could also be the anti-caking agent found in many times of commercial salt.

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