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I make a lot of home-made pickles; mostly pickled onions/shallots/cucumbers. I use a cold process and I don't pre-brine.

I notice all of my pickles always end up floating to the top of the jars, even after months of pickling. This is very annoying because it means the top pickles don't get evenly saturated.

Commercial, store-bought pickles never have this problem. They always sink to the bottom of the jar. Even if there's only a single pickle left in the jar, it sinks.

What can I do to get my pickles to sink?

4 Answers 4

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I've noticed in my experience if I cut the vegetables and put them in a bowl with salt water for a couple of hour in the fridge. Then remove and rinse for 3 to 5 minutes before canning, they don't float. If I skip this step, they float everytime.

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  • Nice solution, that will make the vegetables more dense by extracting water so they should indeed sink more easily
    – Luciano
    Jul 20, 2022 at 13:13
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Most likely commercial pickles are preserved by an accurate pasteurisation and ascorbic acid or other chemical preservatives so that the "brine" contains much less salt as compared to your homemade ones. It is mattert of the liquid density, yours is heavier.

(Though the density of the vegetables might likely vary a bit - and though surface/volume ratio could have an effect on how much water flow throughout the skin of the preserved vegetables - I would expect it to tend to the same value upon preparation and storage).

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  • 1
    Thanks for your answer. Although it's helpful and accurate, I'm un-marking this as the accepted answer because more than a year later I've still been unable to get my pickles to sink even though I've tried using almost no salt and have tried canning (i.e. pasteurising) my pickles. So basically - I still don't know how I can get my pickles to sink!
    – WackGet
    May 24, 2020 at 0:16
  • For fairness I could accept the answer and ask a separate question "HOW do I make homemade pickles sink", I suppose?
    – WackGet
    May 24, 2020 at 0:18
  • Is it the same with onions or it happens just with cucumbers? The latter can have really different density inside but I would expect onions and carrots to sink easily
    – Alchimista
    May 25, 2020 at 10:53
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Switch your pickling method to the old-fashioned crock method.
In it, prepare your brine nice and salty, and pour over your crock of cukes which is no more than 3/4 full, so that the brine is at least 2” above it.
Then place your stone weight on top to hold the pickles below fluid level. After reaching the desired pickling, you can as you did, or just keep them in crock, maintaining submerged status.

This forces the pickling solution more thoroughly through each pickle, making them "heavier" than the pickling solution you wish to can them in.

Bonus: Since it is a "cold-pack" method, pickles are more crisp.

The method can be used with almost any pickled vegetable.

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the jars are not filled tightly, I've had this problem and have learned if I really press the cucumbers in the jar there is less floating

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