Date: April 1989 (Revised April 1995)
Source: NDSU Ext Service Food and Nutrition Specialists
There are a number of reasons that pickles may turn dark. They include using water with too many minerals, especially iron.
Using a very dilute vinegar solution. There should be at least one part of vinegar to every 3 parts of water. Recipes that don't use this ratio are unsafe.
Using too many ground spices.
Cooking too long with spices or packing the ground spices into the jar.
Using cucumbers with a low nitrogen content.
Development of corrosion on the underside of metal lids.
Using iodized salt, or iron, brass or copper utensils in preparation of pickles. Pickles prepared in these utensils should not be eaten.
If your pickle liquid turns pink shortly after canning, this may have been caused by use of over-mature dill.
Use of sunburned or over-mature cucumbers may produce a product that is dull or faded in appearance. Pickles that have small brown spots have been held too long before pickling.
To avoid dark pickles, use only unchipped enamel, stainless steel, or heat-resistant glassware when heating pickles, or try a stone or crock jar or a heavy plastic container.
Additional information on this topic is included in the Extension bulletin HE-189, "Making Pickles," which is available at your county office of the NDSU Extension Office.
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For More Information Contact your North Dakota County Extension Office of the NDSU Extension Service for additional information or see our main NDSU Web Page for publications and articles on Agriculture, Horticulture, Youth and Family, Business and Community and Food and Nutrition at http://www.ag.ndsu.nodak.edu/