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Sep 10, 2008 03:51 PM

Pickling salt - necessary?

I have made pickles before using pickling salt but this time I am not really in the vicinity of any places that sell it.

Does anyone know if I can make pickles with regular sea salt? I am sure there is a reason for it; all the recipes I have seen or used call for it but I am just wondering if I can substitute something else for pickling salt.

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  1. You need a salt with no additives, especially iodine. Windsor pickling salt is available in every supermarket I have visited. You could e mail them to find a source near you.

    2 Replies
    1. re: jayt90

      I "think" you need to use pickling salt - otherwise the brine will be cloudy... and I don't know what the other "effects" of using non-pickling salt could be... You can purchase pickling salt at the Loblaws at Queens Quay - that's where I got mine last year

    2. I have made homemade dill pickles for many years. I have never heard of "pickling salt". I use kosher salt or rock salt. Are you sure you don't mean "pickling spices" which of course are necessary ingredients along with dill, garlic and chilli if you like it. Finally to keep the water from becoming less cloudy pick up Alum Powder from a drug store or chemist. It does nothing to the pickling process except keep the brine solution from going cloudy. I hope that this helps.

      8 Replies
      1. re: bondi2026

        I mean pickling salt. I always use pickling spice or some homemade version of it. I also never buy any iodized salt. I saw alum powder at the bulk store but I am not sure I want to use it.

        Hmm, maybe I will just stick to the pickling salt.

        1. re: snackysmore

          Alum makes the pickle crispier.... like the Vlasic ad.
          Pickling salt, as said above, will keep the product and liquid clearer, not allow it to cloud or brown as it would with ordinary salt,

        2. re: bondi2026

          Kosher salt cannot have iodine added in, but may have anti-caking agents.
          Alum powder is suspect in my mind, as it is a type of aluminum salt, but it may be OK with the food and drug authorities. I don't see it on ingredient labels very often.
          Rock salt is apparently close to pickling salt, which in Canada and the U.S., is mined in a 100% pure form, under parts of the Great Lakes. I believe kosher salt comes from the same sources.

          1. re: jayt90

            Considering they sell baking powder WITHOUT alum makes me think it is suspect as well. I got rid of all my aluminum cast pans for a reason. I think I will go with the rock salt if I don't want to make the trek to Roncesvalles before my dill heads go bad.

            Thanks for the help!

            1. re: snackysmore

              Baking powder without alum is used mostly because at least some people think the baked products taste better without an alum aftertaste.

              Iodized salt used in an acid environment such as pickling tend to cause a purplish cast to the food. Very few people want slightly purple pickles.

              1. re: Eldon Kreider

                I use pickling salt because it available, cheap, and a substitute for kosher salt in general use.

                But I have often wondered if sea salt has enough iodine to turn the color of pickles?

                1. re: jayt90

                  I ended up just using pickling salt but I did see some guy make lime/cumin pickles today and he said koser salt and pickling salt were interchangeable.

                  Maybe I will try a batch with kosher salt and see what happens.

            2. re: jayt90

              Kosher salt works fine...I think the food and drug people frown upon the use of alum as it's toxic if the portions aren't correct. They feel it's simply not worth it just for a crispy pickle.

          2. I use the Morton "pickling and canning salt". No additives for flow or caking.

            Their chart shows some interesting info:

            1. Pickling salt is just pure salt, finely ground so that it dissolves more easily in cold liquids. You can make it by pulverizing additive-free rock salt or kosher salt in the blender.

              Remember that kosher and rock salt are less dense than pickling salt (bigger crystals = bigger air gaps). Either measure by weight or adjust the volume of salt you're using.

              1 Reply
              1. re: alanbarnes

                Thanks! This helps a lot, it's always good to know what you can subsitute for in a pinch. Hmm, I was afraid there was some chemical reason but now I know I can just pulverize regular kosher or rock salt. Great tip.

                The pickled jalapeno recipe (I think from the SF board) is amazing.