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White Scum “Bloom” When Making Pickles – Fermenting Cucumbers

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Back in June 2009… on June 20th to be exact… I started some pickles, using cucumbers grown fresh from my garden. I ate the first jar rather quickly, but the second jar has been slowly savored. It has been sitting in my fridge the last couple of years… every once in awhile I eat a couple slices for the probiotics. When I pull the jar out today, which had been completely undisturbed for several months, there was a white layer floating on the top. This white layer is sometimes referred to as being mold, white scum or “bloom”. This post on making sauerkraut at Wild Fermentation mentions this phenomenon.

A few weeks after beginning these pickles, I noticed that each one was coated with a white layer. I noted it, but didn’t pay much attention to it, and around 90 days in the fridge, the white layer had disappeared. These pickle slices are still crunchy. I followed the basic recipe from Nourishing Traditions which is:

Wash the cucumbers and tightly pack into a quart-sized wide-mouth mason jar.

Place these ingredients together and mix and pour over the cukes:

1 tablespoon mustard seeds
2 tablespoons fresh dill, snipped
1 tablespoon sea salt
4 tablespoons whey
1 cup filtered water

If you don’t use whey, use 2 tablespoons sea salt. The top of the liquid should be one inch below the top of the lid for fermentation and expansion. Cover tightly and keep at room temperature for three days, then refrigerate.

When I made mine, I didn’t use mustard seeds or dill, only the 2 tablespoons salt!

Here is a video of what the white scum at top looks like, and I will show the white substance at the bottom, in the video you can see how the white substance at the bottom swirls around in the pickle juice when I move the jar.

I have taken some photos to illustrate what this “bloom” looks like, but I also wanted to share that I’ve seen it look much whiter. What it reminds me of, when I see it and it is very white, it looks like someone sprinkled a very fine layer of talcum (baby) powder on top. It may look as if it has ripples or cracks.

White scum "bloom" floating on top of pickles

Homemade pickles, white layer floating on top

Fermented cucumbers - pickles

Do It Yourself Pickles - White Mold

In addition to the top layer, there will sometimes be white substance settled at the bottom of the jar.

White sediment on bottom of homemade pickles

Pickles From My Garden

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