Recently an AnswerLine client spotted these two products on the shelf with the canning supplies and wanted to know what they were and how they should be used. Both are calcium chloride, a generic firming agent that is used in the pickling and canning industry. In recent years calcium chloride has become available commercially as Pickle Crisp® by Ball or Xtra Crunch® by Mrs. Wages. These are both granular products that offer fast results with the same great taste and crispness of lime (calcium hydroxide) but with less fuss. Calcium chloride does not have the hydroxide component of lime and therefore does not lower acidity of pickled food or pose a food safety risk. A small amount is added to each jar of pickles before sealing following the manufacturer’s directions. (It should not be added to the vat during brining or fermentation.) Calcium chloride is used by brewers and wine makers and has been found to improve the texture of canned apple slices, pears, and peaches. It has also been used with canning whole tomatoes to hold the tomatoes together. (I personally have used the Ball product and like it very much with pickled foods; I have not tried it with the fruits and tomatoes as suggested.) Calcium chloride may impart a bit of a salty taste but adds no sodium. These products have an indefinite shelf life but will clump and become hard when exposed to humidity so it is important to keep them in as dry of conditions as possible.
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