Are your homemade pickles too sour or vinegary? Here’s how to prevent and fix over-fermented pickles!
Nothing throws off a good batch of pickles like a sour or vinegary taste that makes your mouth pucker a little bit too much. I mean, gross. When pickles taste sour, all the flavors get distorted—and that’s not what you want when trying to enjoy the fruits of your hard-earned labor.
But sour pickles aren’t something you have to live with. You can fix it—pretty quickly.
We’ll show you how.
There are different methods to fix the sour flavor of homemade pickles depending on how they were made. For pickles made in salt brine, soaking them in water can dilute the sour flavor. For pickles made using vinegar, add a sweetener to mask the sour flavors.
Before you start adding water and sugar to your batch of homemade pickles, take a moment to read through some of our tips. Below you can learn how to correct your sour pickles and even how to avoid making them too sour in the first place. Let’s get started.
What Makes Pickles Sour/Vinegary
If your latest round of pickles tasted too sour, you may be tempted to just toss the whole batch. Luckily, there are a few methods you can use to correct the flavor mishap.
Before we jump into fixing the sour pickles, it may be helpful to know what caused the recipe to turn out so sour in the first place.
Fermented pickle recipes use cucumbers, dill, salt, water, a variety of spices, while pickles made with the canning method are made with vinegar and pickling salt.
Pickles that are fermented in saltwater brine rather than in a vinegar mixture are more likely to turn out sour.
Fermented pickles (also known as brined pickles) must go through a fermentation process for several weeks for the fermentation to take place. Fermentation is when bacteria produce acids necessary to preserve the pickles. The bacteria also generates and creates the pickled flavor.
Because brined pickles have a much slower fermentation process than vinegar pickles, they absorb more of the brine and spices, giving them a more intense flavor.
If you prefer a sweeter pickle, avoid making fermented brine pickles. Instead, choose a vinegar pickling recipe.
How To Fix Sour Fermented (Brine) Pickles
When making pickles, the ideal situation would be to correct the sour flavor before the pickles are fermented; chances are the sour flavor will go unnoticed until it comes time to eat them. Although your pickles are already fermented, the flavor can be salvaged.
While everyone develops their own methods of fixing sour pickles, there are a few that the majority of people agree on.
Soak In Water
Soak fermented pickles in water to help dilute the flavor concentration.
Start by dumping out the liquid the pickles are currently in and replacing it with fresh water. You only need to let your pickles soak for about 10 to 30 minutes depending on how sour they are. Taste the pickles every ten minutes to make sure they do not get too diluted.
If the pickles sit in the water for too long they could lose all of their flavor.
Do not do this with every jar of pickles at the same time. For now, start with one jar and open the others one by one as you need them. This will prevent the pickles from turning soggy.
How to Fix Canned Pickles That Turn Sour
With so many health benefits, it’s easy to understand why many people choose to can their own pickles rather than buying them at the store. If you already took a crack at making some healthy pickles of your own, do not worry if they turn out sour.
Measure The Vinegar Brine
When it comes to the canning method of making pickles, another factor that could lead to sour pickles is an incorrect ratio of vinegar to sugar or improper spice preparation.
Be sure to follow the recipe carefully, the proper strength for vinegar brine is 4-6% acidity. Make sure you keep it in that range to ensure the pickles don’t come out too vinegary.
Cooking your spices for too long can also make their flavors more intense resulting in a strong sour or bitter taste.
Add A Little Sugar
Rather than removing the vinegar flavor with water, correct the flavor with some sweetener.
“Just boil up some sugar syrup (1:1 water:sugar), stir it in, let it hang out in the fridge for a day, and taste, You’ll probably need to add a bit of extra water, too.”Erica, Chowhound User
Similar to the fermented pickles, you should only complete this process one jar at a time, rather than all at once.
After making your simple syrup, let it cool before pouring it into the jar. Mix the liquids thoroughly. Put the jar in the fridge, tasting frequently to ensure the pickles do not become too sweet.
Do not put the opened jar back on the shelf. Once the seal has been broken, the mix becomes susceptible to unhealthy bacteria growth.
Another method for masking your pickles’ sour taste is to use stevia instead of sugar.
Stevia can be nearly 300 times sweeter than sugar and therefore should only be used in small amounts. Many choose stevia because it does not have calories or artificial ingredients, making it healthier than actual sugar.
The folks at Healthy Canning suggest using only 1/2 teaspoon at a time. Let the pickles sit for some time before tasting and continue to add stevia until they reach the desired flavor.
Although it may be tempting to dilute the vinegar mixture with water, do not alter the recipe’s liquid ratio. Doing so could result in improper pickling and mold growth.
Why eat Fermented Pickles?
Fermented pickles are rich in probiotics, beneficial bacteria that help support gut health, immune system function, and metabolic health. Pickles fermented in salt brine also contain B vitamins, trace minerals and are a good source of vitamin K, which helps support bone and heart health.
There are many benefits to eating pickles that were made with vinegar. Pickles and their juice are packed with antioxidants. Pickles in vinegar can also lower blood pressure and reduce heartburn. Vinegar also has a glucose-lowering effect which can help to slightly lower your blood pressure.
Did I answer all your questions about how to fix pickles that are too sour?
In this post, we took a look at the simple yet complicated world of making homemade pickles and how to fix pickles that turned out too sour or vinegary.
Fermented pickles can be fixed by diluting them with a bit of water.
While adding a bit of sweetener to canned pickles made with vinegar will quickly reduce any sour flavors.
You can make some great pickles with fermenting or pickling. Each has its unique flavor profile. Try them both! You may find one of your new favorite dishes.