MadSci Network: Chemistry

Re: Why do cucumbers pickled in salt and vinegar remain edible much longer?

Date: Sun Jan 22 04:10:01 2006
Posted By: Levy Pascua, Grad student, food science, bakery industry
Area of science: Chemistry
ID: 1134595553.Ch

Hi! Kayla,

Happy New Year.

Pickled cucumbers can be used in a lot of food dishes including making a sandwich. Hmmn! Delicious! Cucumbers pickled in salt and vinegar remain edible much longer than fresh cucumber because both salt and vinegar have preservative properties. They stop the growth of most microorganismes that spoil fresh vegetables. Vinegar is acidic in nature and therefore destroys or prevents the growth of most bacteria. On the other hand, salt creates its preservative properties by helping the growth of lactic acid bacteria that ferment lactic acid as they grow.

Lactic acid bacteria that live on the cucumber react with the sugars in the vegetable, and in the presence of appropriate concentrations of salt and water that is ideal for their growth, they proliferate into trillions of microbes within a few days. The action of the lactic acid bacteria lowers the pH of the brine to a point that most pathogens cannot survive. You can pickle cucumber in salt or vinegar or combination of both ingredients.

Until then,

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