Brown dust outside crock

Asked September 2, 2020, 11:15 AM EDT

I’m making fermented pickles. I’m day 7 of Fermenting. For the last 3 days a brown dust has accumulated on the outside of the crock. Is this worrisome? Thanks.

Multnomah County Oregon

5 Responses

As long as the pickles and brine in the crock are not discolored, developing an off-odor or turning slimy this shouldn't be a problem.
Is it possible that the dust is from gases rising from the ferment and the particles in the gases are adhering to the outside of the crock as it falls through the air, or liquid that has overflown, or does it look like it is soaking out of the crock? It may be possible that your crock is not fully sealed inside and is absorbing the liquid from the brine which is soaking through to the outside
Does the level of the brine seem to be getting lower? Watch for that.
It is possible that it might be mold if debris accumulated on the outside of the crock if the ferment overflowed at the beginning.
I would wipe the crock off with a damp cloth and keep an eye on it.

OSU Extension Service Food Preservation Ho-tine is now open. 1-800 354-7319 9 am - 4 pm Monday - Friday.. Master Food Preservers there could talk to you a little more about what is happening if it continues.

Thanks Jeanne. I think it’s soaking thru. Some pickles have become hollow and a couple were soft and I threw those out. The brown is a similar color as to the inside of the crock. The crock is quite old. As you suggest, I just wipe it off. I’ll include a picture. The level of the brine stays up. The tan dusts reoccurs if the inside is salt brine, boiling water, or now sugar and vinegar. I had the crock on my counter top and there are some lights there, sometimes they have been turned on, maybe that matters. Thank you.

I can see from the photo that ceramic glazes is severely cracked, so it is most likely that way on the inside, too. so, yes it looks like brine is seeping though. The value of a crock is it's insulation so it keeps the ferment at a stable temperature even if the external temperature fluctuates some. You could line the crock with a plastic bag for your next ferment and not have this issue. These is a slight chance that there could be some contaminants in the clay the crock was made from that might soak back into the ferment. I doubt the lighting makes a difference.

Be sure to keep your crock somewhere cool.. Under 70'F is the best temperature range. Over 75'F and spoilage is much more likely. The hollow and soft pickles sound like they may have been too warm.

Thanks for the quick reply. I’ll get a new crock for the next batch. Is the internet correct that these pickles should still be safe to eat?

They should be safe. The pressure from inside the crock should keep anything from seeping back into the contents.