MadSci Network: Agricultural Sciences

Re: What is the scientific use of pickles in our food intake?

Date: Sun Sep 28 12:30:50 2008
Posted By: Elizabeth Kunkel, Faculty, Food Science and Human Nutrition, Clemson University
Area of science: Agricultural Sciences
ID: 1195746031.Ag

"Pickling", historically done through fermentation, is one of the oldest methods of food preservation. It has not been viewed as a way to preserve nutrients as such, but rather, to store foods for consumption throughout the year.

There is limited information about impact of pickling on vitamin content of foods. However, vitamin C is stable in an acidic environment, so it may be preserved during pickling. However, if the fermentation is a result of aerobic bacteria activity, the vitamin C may be oxidized during the fermentation. Also, vitamin C is not stable over an extended period of time, particularly when exposed to oxygen, so long-term storage of pickled foods in an aerobic environment may lead to oxidation of the vitamin C.

In general, freezing and canning are better methods of preserving the vitamin C content of foods.

Karmas and Harris. Nutritional Evaluation of Food Processing. 1988. AVI Books.

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