Some people indulge in the tart, savory taste of pickled vegetables, meats, fish, and even pickled eggs. Some people find pickles have a strong taste and a rather unpleasant smell. The flavor of pickles is an acquired taste, and so is its smell. Some people may find the aroma pickles appetizing, but many find the smell of pickled food unappealing.
Pickling is a very common and important way to preserve and store food that’s out of season. Many people eat some sort of pickled food every day, whether it’s pickles in a hamburger, a serving of corned beef, or a side dish of sauerkraut. Like any strong-flavored savory food, the smell of pickles can make their way into your body, your kitchen tools, and your home. Pickles may taste good, but they leave behind a rather sour and briny odor. Here are some ways that you can get rid of pickle smells around your home.
How Pickling Works
Pickling is a method of food preservation that has been used for centuries to store foods that easily spoil, or fresh foods that are out of season. Food is first fermented in brine (a heavy solution of salt and water) to draw out the excess moisture. The salt solution also reacts with the food to produce lactic acid, which lengthens its shelf life and changes its flavor. The food is then stored in an acidic solution, usually vinegar or some other tart, sour liquid.
The salt and the vinegar have chemical characteristics that kill and inhibit the growth of bacteria. While pickling has long been used to store foods that are out of season, the flavor is also enjoyed and appreciated by many people. Many people pickle foods at home using pickling jars and pressure cookers.
Many people are familiar with pickled cucumbers and pickled cabbage, but there are many other foods around the world that are pickled. Here are some of the many pickled foods and dishes enjoyed all over the world:
- Radishes, ginger, and other root vegetables are often pickled in China and Japan.
- Chilies and other spices are pickled in many countries in Southeast Asia.
- Kimchi is a spicy dish of pickled root vegetables and cabbages, and is an important part of a Korean meal.
- In Europe and in the United States, a variety of foods are often pickled. There are conventional pickled dishes like cabbages and beets. Pickled onions and eggs are a popular dish in the United Kingdom. There are more exotic ones like pickled herring (an important part of Jewish cuisine), pickled salmon (raw salmon cured in salt and gin that’s popular in Scandinavia), and pickled okra (which is very popular in the southern US).
Odors from food fermentation and preservation are notoriously difficult to remove, and pickling is no exception. If you pickle foods often, the smell and flavor of vinegar, salt, and the pickles themselves will make their way into your kitchen utensils and change the flavor of other foods you cook. The pickling process can also leave a sour smell lingering in your kitchen.
The pickled foods themselves do not cause the sour odor; instead, the odor is caused by the salts and acids used to preserve them. While there’s no such thing as an odor-free pickle, you can minimize the pickle smells by pickling foods properly. Here are some tips and tricks you should keep in mind when you pickle foods:
- When storing ingredients fermenting in brine, keep the lid of the container tightly closed.
- Unless the recipe calls for it, do not recycle pickling liquids. Use fresh salt and vinegar whenever you’re pickling food. Dispose of the pickling liquid properly; do not pour it down the drain, because the strong acids and salts can corrode your drain pipes. Instead, throw the remaining pickling liquid into a compost pit or a biomass disposal facility.
- Make sure that you use clean, sterilized jars to store pickles.
- Many cultures, especially in Korea and Indonesia, store earthenware pickle pots underground. You can achieve the same effect by keeping pickle jars tightly sealed and stored in a cool cupboard.
- Keep pickle jars tightly closed. Vinegar used for pickling has a very strong scent. If you introduce air into the pickles, you can also introduce bacteria and other microorganisms that not only spoil the pickles, but also give off a foul odor.
- When sealing your pickle jars, make sure you use new lids. Do not reuse lids when canning your own home-made pickles.
Clean Your Jars
While a glass jar may look spotless, some odors from pickling liquids and food residue may still linger inside the jar and the lid. Reusing pickle jars are cheaper than buying new ones every time you pickle foods. Before reusing a pickle jar for a fresh batch of pickles, you should clean it thoroughly.
To properly clean a pickle jar, follow these steps:
- Wash the used pickle jars thoroughly with soap and hot water.
- Boil the pickle jars in a mixture of water, liquid dish washing detergent, and a splash of rubbing alcohol. Rinse and wash them thoroughly to get rid of the excess residue from the detergent and alcohol.
- Boil the new lids of the pickle jar in a mixture of water, dish washing detergent, and baking soda. Let the jar lids boil for 20 to 30 minutes. Rinse them well with hot running water.
- Rinse them for one last time in hot running water to get rid of the remaining odors.
The task may seem difficult and time-consuming, but it’s better than having to store pickles in a dirty jar. Take the time to clean jars thoroughly before reusing them.
Pack Them In Crushed Newspapers
After the lids and glass jars have dried completely, it’s a good idea to store them in a box lined with crushed newspapers or paper towels. Pack the inside of the jar with crushed newspapers as well. The paper will help absorb the excess moisture left behind by washing and condensation. When you’re ready to use your pickle jars again, rinse them again in hot running water.
Hire Professional Cleaners
All the scrubbing and spraying that you can possibly do will not get rid of pickle odors, especially if you prepare your own pickled foods at home. To properly get rid of that odor, you need to hire a professional cleaning service or odor removal service for your home. They are equipped with the right equipment and chemicals to remove the lingering odor for good. It will cost some money, but most cleaning services will charge you a fair price depending on the size of your home, and depending on the strength of the odor.
No matter how much you like pickles, your house doesn’t have to smell like a pickle. While it’s definitely a pickle to clean up pickle smells, you can make your favorite pickles at home without having to put up with the strong smell.
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