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< prev - next > Food processing Pickles and vinegars KnO 100278_Pickled cucumber (Printable PDF)
Pickled cucumbers are made throughout the world in Africa, Asia and Latin America. They are
made by mixing cucumber with salt or a brine solution from where they undergo a lactic acid
fermentation. The products vary according to the type of cucumber used, the length and type of
fermentation and the presence of any additional herbs or spices. Typical products include
Khalpi which is a cucumber pickle produced in Nepal, oi sobagi and oiji from Korea and torshi
khiar from Egypt.
This technical brief should be read together with ‘Pickled fruits’ which gives an overview of the
process of lactic acid fermentation of fruit and vegetables.
Preservation principles
Selected cucumbers are prepared and placed in either dry salt or a brine solution (15-20% salt).
With wet fruits such as cucumbers, dry salt is usually used (brine is more often used for less
juicy fruit and vegetables). The salt draws moisture out of the cucumbers to form a brine. Lactic
acid producing bacteria thrive in the salty environment and begin to grow and multiply. As they
do so they produce lactic acid as a by-product, which increase the acidity of the pickle and gives
it its distinctive sour taste. The increased acidity preserves the cucumber and prevents the
growth of other food poisoning bacteria. The fermentation continues until all the nutrients are
used up and the acidity is so high it destroys the lactic acid bacteria.
The dry salting method is used for pickling many vegetables and fruits including limes, lemons
and cucumbers. For dry salt pickling, any variety of common salt is suitable as long as it is pure.
Impurities or additives can cause the following problems:
Chemicals to reduce caking should not be used as they make the brine cloudy.
Lime impurities can reduce the acidity of the final product and reduce the shelf life of the
Iron impurities can result in the blackening of the vegetables.
Magnesium impurities impart a bitter taste.
Carbonates can result in pickles with a soft texture
Raw material preparation
Select the raw material. Only use fully ripe cucumbers without bruising or damage. Wash the
cucumbers in potable cold water and drain. It is important that the water used for washing is
clean boiled water is ideal to avoid contamination of the brine by water-borne bacteria.
Chlorinated water should not be used for washing the fruit as this could prevent the natural
fermentation taking place. The cucumbers can be pickled whole or sliced - this depends on their
size. The very small cucumbers (less than 10 cm long) are often left whole while the larger ones
are sliced. For khalpi the cucumbers are washed, sliced and cut into 5-8cm pieces.
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