Sunday, August 9, 2020

Crispy Pickles

I am blessed to know one of the nicest, kindest women in the entire world.

OK, make that two of them. Mrs ERJ is in that bucket, too.

The other woman is a lady named Jean Burk and she lives east of the City of Eaton Rapids. She is active in 4-H and keeps a string of animals for kids whose parents are too strapped for cash or don't have the facilities for show animals.

The kids can come over and care for and "work" the animals. Then, most years they can take the animals to the county fair and show them.

Three of her animals are gelded goats. That is, they used to be boys but are no longer.

She had a run of bad luck with them. She was doing everything right but still had multiple occurences with urinary tract stones. It was excruciating for the goats. It was excruciating for the Burk family budget.

Eventually, they sorted through the issue and determined that the mulberry tree growing on the other side of the fence was the issue. Mulberry leaves can be up to 8% calcium by dry-weight. The goats reaching up and munching on mulberry leaves threw the scientifically formulated feed's calcium-magnesium-phosphorous ratio out of whack and the goats got UT stones.

End-of-story, right?

Calcium, the secret to crispy pickles

Not so fast, Feldman.

Jean is a country girl and enjoys canning and preserving food. She would do it even if it wasn't a great way to save a few bucks.

While getting ready to make pickles this year, Jean learned that calcium is added to pickles to make them crispy.

This does not surprise me. Apples and pears are sprayed with calcium to prevent bitter-pit and water-core. Both disorders involve structural carbohydrates and calcium's magical ability to quasi-polymerize them. One can even make low-sugar jam with pectin and calcium since the calcium binds with the pectin.

Jean started wondering. Can mulberry leaves be added to jars of pickles? A quick review of the internet revealed that mulberry leaves are entirely edible. Humans regularly add tender, young mulberry leaves to salads.


Jean made a batch of pickles. She chose a combination known to result in mushy pickles, dill slices canned in quart jars. Quart jars require longer processing and the additional time-at-heat makes them mushy.

Jean called me and told me that her idea of adding a couple of mulberry leaves to each jar seemed to make the dill slices significantly crispier than expected.

Since mulberry trees grow like weeds and nobody is going to make a dime from promoting the addition of mulberry leaves to pickles, it is unlikely the news will spread unless I post the information. And granted, one trial is not a peer-reviewed, double-blind, scientific study.

As always, be SURE the tree is a mulberry tree and chose a tree that is from a pollution-free area where the tree will not be exposed to toxic dusts or sprays.


  1. Excellent idea!
    I also tried low temperature pasturization of pickles this year, and am very pleased with the results.

  2. I've been anxiously awaiting a pickle post. Reading how prolific the cuke plants are I under planted in my containers and got a , well lets just call it an underwhelming harvest so far(northern pickling) I like mine peeled sliced very thin with strong vinegar lots of season salt and sugar. I had hopes of canning enough to get till next year. Ah well, next time will be better. On a side note, I found something that I didn't know existed Smallish bottles of 25% vinegar. While I wouldn't want to take a bath in the stuff, if there was limited space for storage this could help.