The Scoop on Pickle Crisp

I’d never heard of Pickle Crisp until a couple of weeks ago, when I was giving a radio interview and a caller mentioned the product. Pickle Crisp, I learned, is a trade name for calcium chloride, a common additive in commercial canning. Calcium chloride is used for several purposes, but in pickles it is mainly a firming agent.

On searching the Web for more information, I learned that Pickle Crisp had been marketed by Jarden, the company that makes Ball jars, but was no longer available.

To find out more, I contacted Lauren Devine at Jarden. The company sold Pickle Crisp for about two years. It was intended to replace pickling lime, which home picklers, particularly in the South, have long used to firm such pickles as bread-and-butters and pickled figs. But lime is troublesome to use: You must first soak the fruit or vegetable pieces in a mixture of lime and water, and then rinse and soak them repeatedly until the water is clear and the lime won’t affect the pickle’s pH much. Calcium chloride is easier to use: You add 1/8 teaspoon along with the fruit or vegetable pieces and the pickling liquid to a pint jar, or 1/4 teaspoon to a quart jar. (Jarden has tested Pickle Crisp only with fresh pickles, not with fermented ones.)

Unfortunately for Jarden, sales of Pickle Crisp were slow, and only upon removing the product from the market did Jarden realize that there was much demand for it. Jarden decided to bring the product back, but in improved form. The old Pickle Crisp was a powder that tended to dissolve into steam. The new version will have bigger grains.

The new Pickle Crisp should be in the home-canning sections of supermarkets and farm-supply stores next March or April. In the meantime, if you want to try pickling with calcium chloride you can order it by that name

About Linda Ziedrich

I grow, cook, preserve, and write about food in Oregon's Willamette Valley.
This entry was posted in Pickles, Preserving science and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

7 Responses to The Scoop on Pickle Crisp

  1. Mark smith says:

    Will pickle Crisp Work for lacto fermented dill pickles?

    • Although Ball recommends Pickle Crisp only for vinegar pickles, commercial picklers use calcium chloride in fermented cucumber pickles as well, not just to keep pickles crisper but also to reduce the quantities of sodium chloride used in brining and thereby reduce the salty wastes that can pollute our waterways. I have so far added calcium chloride to pickle brine only once, and because I prepared no control crock the results were inconclusive. Adding 1½ tablespoons Pickle Crisp per gallon of water, however, did seem to firm the cucumbers a bit, and the strangely harsh taste of Pickle Crisp wasn’t noticeable to my tasters. If I’m interpreting the studies correctly, just ¼ teaspoon Pickle Crisp per gallon may be effective in keeping fermented cucumbers firmer.

      • Mark smith says:

        Thanks for your response. I am confused on whether to use 1/4 teaspoon or 1 1/2 tablespoons of pickle crisp per gallon of water.

      • Barbara Monterosso says:

        I use young grape leaves to keep lacto fermented dill pickles crisp, also from my garden, and they are edible! Just place two-three, well rinsed, young leaves on the bottom of the pickling jar or crock before packing with cucumbers. I cover the top of the cucumbers with a couple as well to keep everything well under the brine, but now I use pickle pipes so it’s not necessary anymore, just a habit from when I had to burp jars.

      • May says:

        I followed the instructions for the pickle crisp on a test batch. What I got were more like refigerator pickles. Not crisp at all. I will go back to lime cure from now on. I may try it again on onions since some thought it helped a little on the crispness

      • You make an important point, May: the increased firmness you get with calcium chloride is nothing like what you get with lime. If you really like the lime cure, it makes sense to keep using it.

  2. If you’re wary about Pickle Crisp, Mark, you might start with as little as 1/4 teaspoon per gallon. If the pickles turn out as firm as you like, you’ll know that you don’t need more. For comparison, it would be helpful to simultaneously start a control batch, without Pickle Crisp but otherwise the same. I’d be interested in hearing about your results.

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