Soggy but Tasty: Making Pickles with Slicers

“Dear Horticulturist,

This year I grew a ton of Diva Cucumbers and canned pickles from them.  The little ones turned out okay, but the spears made from larger ones had very soft insides.  The taste is okay, but there just isn’t any crunch.  What did I do wrong?  Is there anything I can do to them to make them crunchy?”


Before we delve into why your pickles are soft, let’s examine how a pickle is made:

Pickled vegetables are a great example of fermentation.  The vegetable is submerged in a brine solution.  This prevents the growth of mold while promoting bacterial growth.  Good bacteria eat the sugars present in the vegetable and, as a bi-product, create lactic acid.  Lactic acid is what gives your pickles the characteristic tart taste.

The problem that comes into play with how you made your pickles is that you used Diva.  Diva is a slicing cucumber.  Slicers are not recommended for pickling because they contain the enzyme endopolygalacturonase.  Endopolygalcturonase is created at the blossom end of the fruit and acts to soften the normally-rigid tissues of the cucumber.

Pickling cucumbers also have endopolygalacturonase; however, they also have various proteinase, and amylase  inhibitors.  These inhibitors work on protein and sugars, respectively, to prevent the softening action of endopolygalacturonase.  As a result, a pickle created with a pickling cucumber will be crunchy.

The reason why your smaller cucumbers had no problem witht he pickling process is because they were less mature and lower levels of endopolygalacturonase would have been present.

These pickles are safe to eat, but what will likely be more of an issue is just that they are not going to give you that typical pickle crunch.

© Mertie Mae Botanics LLC and Horticulture Talk!, 2014. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Mertie Mae Botanics LLC and Horticulture Talk! with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

One thought on “Soggy but Tasty: Making Pickles with Slicers

  1. Wow, great article! I knew that slicing cucumbers were not good for canning but never knew why. I’ll be sure to RSS your blog. What a great one.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s