Non-Reactive Pots and Pickling

Filed in Canning and Preserving by on August 18, 2015 3 Comments

Can you use aluminum cookware when pickling?

cooking pot

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It’s pickling season here in the Mid-Columbia. My favorite local farmer is now taking orders for pickling cukes. Actually, his advertisement originally said “tickling cukes.” Obviously the newspaper’s classified ad designer is not a home canner!

So, whether you are putting up pickling cukes, tickling cukes, or any other kind of pickle, you may notice that the recipes says this: heat vinegar, spices, et.al. in a non-reactive pan.

Which leads to the questions:

What is a non-reactive pan? and
Why do I have to use a non-reactive pan when making pickles?

A non-reactive pan (pot) is made of:

  • stainless steel
  • enamelware
  • glass

So your good quality stainless cookware is non-reactive. If you, like me, have any of the old glass Corning Visionware pots still hanging around, they too are non-reactive. Enameled cast iron (like Le Creuset) or general country-style enamelware are also non-reactive. All of these pots would be perfect when making pickles.

Because a reactive pot:

Leaches into the pickles, giving them a metallic taste. In other words, vinegar reacts with metal, and causes the metals to “leave” the pot and join the vinegar “party.” Reactive pots are those made from:

  • aluminum
  • copper
  • brass
  • iron

To Recap:

Aluminum pots – ok for everyday cooking, best avoided when making pickles.

Stainless steel pots – great for everyday cooking, great for making pickles.

Copper pots – perfect for making chocolates, not so perfect for pickles.

Glass pots – ok for everyday cooking, great for making pickles.

Cast iron pots – excellent for everyday cooking, best avoided when making pickles.

Enameled cast iron – great for everyday cooking, great for making pickles.

Is it a great day for pickling where you are?


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About the Author ()

Renee Pottle, an freelance writer and Home Economist, is fanatic about all things food. She blogs about canning and food preservation at SeedToPantry.com. Find her professional food writing info at PenandProvisions.com.

Comments (3)

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  1. Ann S Poole says:

    My grandmother, mother and now I put a copper pipe about 8” long in the last pot of heated sweet pickle syrup. I only leave in about 10 minutes before I take out. It turns my pickle a pretty green. I never thought about it being dangerous and I’ve lived through 4 generations of sweet pickle making. It’s a brined 14 day pickle using alum. There is no metallic taste…. should I stop???
    I just turned 76, and love homemade pickles. 😊

    • admin says:

      Ann, I believe the issue is that reactive metals like copper give the pickles a metallic taste. But let me do some further research just to make sure.

    • admin says:

      Ann, just did more research and enlisted the help of the most knowledgeable Master Food Preserver Trainer I know. There are a couple of issues with using a copper pipe: there is the metallic taste, but more importantly the potential for copper toxicity. Acid (the vinegar) will leach copper from the pipe and can build up in your system. Of course, a copper pipe isn’t food grade either, meaning it really can’t be sanitized to today’s standards. She recommends not only ceasing to use the copper pipe, but to dispose of any pickles already made using the copper pipe.

      Since this is an older recipe, just a reminder to make sure you use 5% acidity vinegar and that the pickles are either processed or stored in the refrigerator once made. There is a similar (I think!) recipe over on the Home Food Preservation site that lists processing times. https://nchfp.uga.edu/how/can_06/14day_sweet_pickles.html.

      Good luck. I am sure that your pickles will still be delicious – maybe not as bright green but safer! Thanks for checking, and stumping me with this question! Take care. Renee

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