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May 18, 2012 04:00 AM

What's growing in my pickle jar?

Decided to try my hand at pickling cucumbers a couple days ago. Made a very strong brine of rice vinegar, salt, crushed garlic, dill, and just a splash of water. This was just for short-term consumption so I didn't do any canning food safety procedures other than making sure the jar was clean. After just a couple days in the fridge the cucumbers looked and tasted great, but I've noticed filmy white deposits near the bottom of the jar. It looks like egg white or spider webs floating in the liquid. It's hard to believe that bacteria could be growing in such a salty acid environment, but could that be it? Maybe it's the vinegar "mother" I've heard about? Please tell me if you know what this is.

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    1. re: ericthered

      No, but it's only been two days. I intend to eat these within the week.

    2. Sounds like you've grown a Mother of Vinegar, RMJ. But without seeing it, I can't be sure. Honestlly, I don't think I'd eat those pickles on the offchance that something nasty is growing, even in such an acidic environment. How do you feel about starting over? And doing a regular canning safety procedure, boiling the jar and the brine both.

      2 Replies
      1. re: mamachef

        because whatever could survive in that environment could potentially be pretty virulent....

        ...I second the idea -- start over, but follow the safety rules this time. (Malignant bacteria don't care whether your timeline is short-term or long-term -- they're quite happy to make you ill today, tomorrow, or two weeks from now, as long as you give them a good breeding ground)

        1. re: sunshine842

          yep. and if it specifies a certain vinegar, don't substitute.

      2. Is rice vinegar as acidic as regular canning-strength vinegar?

        1. How long do quick pickles last (just doused in vinegar/salt/sugar). I make them frequently and still eat them after a week. I try not to go past a week - even if they still look good (but sometimes not an issue since I finish them before they hit a week).

          1 Reply
          1. re: chocomel

            I can only tell you that while they may lost longer and look just fine, I NEVER keep a quick pickle for more than a week, and I try to estimate how much we'll need to last just that long, to reduce waste. This is just my personal hard and fast rule, though.

          2. Rice vinegar isn't remotely strong enough for pickling. Even for short-term consumption. Maybe for just a couple of days, but that's it. And I sincerely doubt that what's swimming/mutating in your jar is a "Mother of Vinegar" - especially from rice vinegar, salt, water, etc., etc.

            Throw those pickles out before you're forced to develop an intimate relationship with your bathroom or worse.