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This reading, part of a site devoted to the science of cooking, explores how beneficial bacteria are involved in the fermentation process that is used to pickle vegetables. The reading focuses on the competition between those microorganisms that facilitate fermentation and those microbes that damage this food production process. Lactic acid bacteria are key players in the creation of pickles. The reading explains the functions of these bacteria and describes the conditions in a pickle crock--including the appropriate salt concentration, a lack of oxygen, and optimal temperature--that allow them to thrive. A sidebar points out how pickles become crunchy through osmosis. Copyright 2005 Eisenhower National Clearinghouse
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