Kalsec Inc., Kalamazoo, Mich., offers complete pickle seasonings as well as individual extracts of spices and herbs for companies that wish to customize their formulations. Complete seasonings include Kosher Style Dill Pickle, Dill Pickle, Bread and Butter Pickle, Sweet Pickle, Mixed Pickle, Pickled Beet and Brined Jalapeño.
A list of more than 30 spices and herbs includes a special water-soluble and decolorized oleoresin capsicum as well as pungent black and white pepper, ginger, mustard and horseradish. Kalsec also offers extracts of onion and garlic.
The basic dill pickle recipe encompasses more than half a dozen flavors, reports Howard Haley, product application manager, Kalsec. Dill is the predominant flavor. Garlic and capsicum round out the taste and deliver pungency. Other ingredients include bay leaf, celery, caraway, onion, ginger, coriander and mustard.
Sweet pickles utilize sweet spices such as cinnamon, clove and allspice with some capsicum and a bit of orange or lemon.
Based on customer requirements, Kalsec can manufacture the spice extracts without the emulsifier Polysorbate 80. In addition, all extracts are available Kosher and non-GMO.
"Spice extracts provide precise flavor control, a cleaner, clearer brine and sterility," says Haley. The flavor and strength of the spice extracts are consistent from season to season. They are microbiologically very clean, so they will not lead to the growth of yeasts and molds in pickled products. The clear extracts can be measured precisely and dispersed easily in pickling brines.
Extracts function well in both the fresh-pack and process methods of pickle manufacturing. For fresh-pack, whole or sliced cucumbers are placed in jars; brine is made up and filled into the jars. The jarred products are heated to 145°F to deactivate the pectinase enzyme in the cucumbers and then quickly cooled. They are stored for several days to equalize the flavors.
The cucumbers for process pickles ferment in a vat of salty brine until packaging. Then they are soaked to rinse out some of the salt, sliced or ground and packaged. Brine and flavors are added at 140°F.
Cucumbers are among many vegetables and fruits that can be pickled. Onions, beets, bell peppers, cauliflower, carrots, olives, tomatillos, jalapeños, green tomatoes and watermelon also get flavor from the pickling process. In some more unusual applications, exotic fruit like tamarinds and some non-plant foods like herring, shrimp, eggs and bologna are pickled.
"Most pickles are based on old, traditional recipes," comments Haley. "Compared to 15 years ago, the American public is much more venturesome. When they see something that's different, they want to try it." In that spirit, he suggests some new ideas for pickling spices, such as tarragon or mint in a savory pickle or fenugreek in a sweet pickle.
Flavor profiles like Italian, Cajun and Indian are popular in food, why not pickle flavors with oregano, cumin or other non-traditional spices?
Kalsec offers custom formulation services to help processors develop flavor profiles that will delight consumers.