Applications - Vegetables

Salt function in pickled vegetables

Cucumber pickles contain relatively high levels of sodium, often exceeding 300mg/1oz serving in commercial products, and there is a strong consumer connotation that pickles are a "salty" food.

Most of the sodium is contributed by the salt ingredient which is absolutely necessary for controlling the fermentation process for curing pickles and in developing an acceptable flavour profile.

Salt withdraws water and various nutrients from the tissue to provide the proper environment for growth of desirable bacteria.

Fresh packed, pasteurised or refrigerated pickles offer opportunities of reducing the sodium chloride level with SOLO® low sodium sea salt without sacrificing consumer acceptance.


Fresh pack pickles

The principal role of salt in fresh pack pickles is seasoning enhancement. This is a rather complicated relationship requiring a balance of saltiness, tartness (acidity), sweetness and spicing to achieve a proper flavour profile.

Minimum acid levels are necessary for preservation, requiring a certain amount of saltiness to suppress excessive tartness.

Good dill pickle flavour usually requires at least 2.2% NaCl to balance 0.6% acetic acid, and higher salt levels can be tolerated as acidity increases.

Replacement - recommended salt levels

  • Dills at 2.5% salt level: replacement with SOLO® at a ratio of 1:1 with selective spicing and high acid
  • Sweet pickles at 1.5 - 2% salt level: replacement with SOLO® at a ratio of 1:1
  • High sugar at 2.5% salt level: replacement with SOLO® at a ratio of 1:1

The substitution of SOLO® maintains a saltiness intensity while reducing sodium, but the bitterness of the potassium and magnesium limit how much can be used.

The degree of substitution is formula dependent.

In formulating pickles with KCl, care should be exercised to select spice grades which are relatively low in eugenol and carvone.

Acidity also suppresses bitterness but excessive acid will significantly reduce acceptance. An optimum level of acidity seems to be 0.8 - 0.9%.



Replacement with SOLO® at a ratio of 1:1 yields a very acceptable flavour. Lower ionic strength will result in higher levels of lactic acid (1.8% vs. 1.3%) contributing a more tart, but not disagreeable, taste.

Vegetables - replacement

  • Canned corns and Green beans: recommended less than 1:1 replacement of NaCl with SOLO® realistic level app. 65% NaCl.
  • Tomato juice and cocktail vegetable juice: full 1:1 replacement of NaCl with SOLO® is possible.