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I've read that putting grape leaves with your brine will help pickles stay crunchy. But those are hard to find. I've also heard that Calcium Chloride does the same thing. Bubbies uses it, in fact. It's on their ingredients.

I got a can of Pickle Crisp (it's just Calcium Chloride) and the directions say to add it to boiling liquid - maybe this stuff isn't for brine/sour pickles. At least, I haven't been using boiling water.

Can anyone tell me if I can put Calcium Chloride in my non-boiled brine?

  • Cherry leaves also work. – Wayfaring Stranger Oct 24 '14 at 14:50
  • @WayfaringStranger where do you typically find cherry leaves? Asking 4 years too late :) – michael.greenwald Apr 24 '18 at 20:42
  • @ michael greenwald They come from ths cherry tree, just out the back door. Maybe your neighbors have one? – Wayfaring Stranger Apr 24 '18 at 21:59
  • @WayfaringStranger hah! duh. I'll see if I can find someone with a cherry tree. – michael.greenwald Apr 25 '18 at 2:39
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Yes! You can use Calcium Chloride to keep your pickles nice and crunchy! I have used Pickle Crisp. I've have had pretty good results. I have also just used generic food grade Calcium Chloride, which I also use in cheese making.(I order this online through my cheese making supplier).

The best tip for crunchy pickles is to avoid over cooking them at high temperatures. I use a thermometer in my hot water bath, to ensure that I do not go over 185 to 190F at which time the cucumber starts to break down. I know, I know people get so upset that I don't "boil" it, but I maintain the temperature for slightly longer at lower temps to achieve the same safety. I've never had a problem and if the ph is acidic enough it shouldn't be a problem. If you feel concerned with safety you can always make them as refrigerator pickles. Which I do sometimes.

I'm not sure of the process you are using, but I do pack the raw cukes into the jars, and fill the jar up with hot brine that was previous boiled. The Calcium Chloride goes into this brine.

P.S. You can buy calcium chloride in both dry form and liquid form. I prefer the liquid form. Hope this helps!

  • I tried to answer this question with Google searches for references, as I have no personal experience using Calcium Chloride. Without solid citations, the only other good way to answer questions here is with personal experience. +1 for providing that, and Welcome to Seasoned Advice! – Jolenealaska Oct 24 '14 at 10:08
  • Thanks kidsoplenty. I'm not boiling the brine, so that makes me think that maybe I shouldn't be using Calcium Chloride. – michael.greenwald Oct 24 '14 at 16:06
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    @michael.greenwald What would be the harm in just bringing the brine to a boil (or close to it)? You can allow it to cool a while if you wish. That would also ensure that any salt or sugar is well dissolved too. – Jolenealaska Oct 24 '14 at 16:23
  • So I made cucumber pickles in a water bath and they are a little soggy...can I add calcium chloride now or is it too late? – Tara R Jul 10 '15 at 3:25
  • @TaraR I'm pretty sure that it won't work, because the calcium chloride works by reinforcing the cell walls before they're broken down by cooking. I haven't actually tried to be sure though. – Cascabel Jul 10 '15 at 4:47
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I have made fermented pickles for several years now. The resulting pickled vegetables, KimChee and even butter pickles are far superior in taste to boiling and brining, although true, we tend to trade the spritzy flavor and better health for a less crisp pickle. Calcium chloride trades easily as a salt for sodium chloride (normal table salt), and I think is probably better for you, but I'm no Dr. But the calcium chlorine is way too expensive for the mild brine used in fermentation.

So what I do - I use rock salt salt and water (3/4 to 1 cup/gal) for the initial brine solution and fermentation, and then 4 air excluded weeks later, when the good micro flora have run their course, add about 1/4 tsp/ gal of the calcium chloride and let sit in the fridge a couple weeks.

Result - a crispy fermented pickle of old fashioned taste, which the crunch my family was trained to like from the bid sterile commercial guys who dumped their brine.

My brine goes into the next batch to keep,the good flora going! (add a bit of salt to bring the specific gravity up if you do this).

Try the CaCl on sauerkraut (cut in 1/2 in slices) for a good treat!

Happy fermentations!

Ranzal the pickler

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    Sorry - should read "mild brine", not "mold brine" in last sentence of first paragraph. Mold brine sounds yucky. – Ranzal the pickler Jan 25 '16 at 15:14
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Better living through chemistry. Calcium Chloride is just about everywhere. We use it in our pickles, both refrigerator and canned. Peppers too. Dilly beans..yep.
I buy it at the home center/hardware in 20-50lb. bags...it's the non-salt ice melt. Read the label tho...there's another non-salt made from magnesium chloride. You don't want that one. I've used calcium chloride in concrete mix also to give it the ability to cure when the temp won't be going above freezing for quite some time. That's a standard additive for that application.
It's all the same stuff.

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