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Avoid Making Sun Pickles

The internet abounds with untested, and potentially unsafe canning recipes. With sun pickles, you fill a jar with cucumbers, add salt, and then fill with cold water. Apply the lid and ring. Then the jar is allowed to sit in the sun each day until the water turns from clear (at the start) to cloudy (in the middle of the process) and then clear again (at the end). According to the recipe, when the water becomes clear again, the pickles are ready to use.

This type of recipe is not safe. This recipe presents a risk of  illness linked to three major foodborne pathogens: E. coli O157:H7, Clostridium botulinum, and Listeria monocytogenes.

Why is this recipe so unsafe?

  • The ratio of salt/water/cucumber is not defined. The precise ratio of these ingredients found in tested recipes allows good bacteria on cucumbers to grow and produce acid (and a safe product), and prevents pathogens (the harmful bacteria) from growing.
  • The temperature inside a jar sitting in the sun could rise above 72°F, too high for proper fermentation. High fermentation temperatures lead to spoilage or allow pathogen growth.



About Karen Blakeslee

The Rapid Response Center was formed in 1995 as a resource for Kansas State University Research & Extension Agents. Resource topics included Food Science, Human Nutrition, Food Service, Textiles, Home Care and other consumer topics. Since that time, the Center has grown to be of valuable assistance to Kansas State University Extension Specialists in those areas.

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