The incredible shrinking pickle
Though I pack my peck of pickles very tightly in the canning jars once they are processed they shrink leaving me with shrunken pickles and lots of pickle juice. How can I avoid this? Help!
Jackson County Oregon
I am guessing these are quick-pack pickles rather than fermented?
Shrunken pickles may be a result of several things including a brine that is too strong, not using fresh cucumbers or cucumbers that are from fields that have not been watered well.
When cucumbers are placed in a vinegar/salt brine, they often shrink as the juices in the cucumbers are pulled out into the solution, but they generally plump up again as the cucumbers reabsorb the brine. Be sure to use a tested recipe so the amount of vinegar and salt will keep the pickles safe.
Try not to overcook the cucumbers. Make certain that you cover them with a boiling brine then turn the setting on the burner to high so they come to a boil as quickly as possible for processing.
Make certain to slice off the blossom end of the cucumbers. The enzymes in that end of the cucumbers will soften the pickles while they are in the jars.
You might try slicing the cucumbers in half instead of leaving them whole. That may make packing them easier and will change the rate of brine absorption. I see our Quick Kosher Dills suggest slicing the cucumbers. http://extension.oregonstate.edu/fch/sites/default/files/documents/pnw_355_picklingvegetables.pdf
These are the best suggestions I can make. Hope they help!