Alum

Discussion in 'Food & Cooking' started by blue_wolf, Oct 3, 2005.

  1. blue_wolf

    blue_wolf

    Messages:
    86
    Likes Received:
    10
    Exp:
    Professional Chef
    I recently picked up a new cook book (new to me) called "Wisconsin Country Cookbook and Journal". It has a lot of really great recipes and ideas for cooking. The only problem is I come across this ingredent "alum" and I have no idea what it is. I look it up, and it says something about being a pickling agent, but one that isn't used much anymore due to the fact it can cause stomach discomfort. What exactly does it do and is there a replacement out there for it.
     
  2. phatch

    phatch Moderator Staff Member

    Messages:
    8,458
    Likes Received:
    453
    Exp:
    I Just Like Food
    It's a flocculant. Still often used in swimming pool cleaning and in pre-treating BAD water for consumption. The current military water treatment tablet is called Chlor-Floc. The chlorine sterilizes, the flocculant causes the miniscule suspended matter to clump up for easy straining--essentially a clarifying agent for high turbidity water. Does the same for pools and pickles.

    It also has a strong puckering effect in the mouth. You may remember the old cartoons where the cat would pour alum in the dogs mouth just as the dog was about to catch the cat. The dog's mouth would then shrink to a tiny size, saving the cat.

    You should be able to find it online for cooking purposes. A search turns up http://www.americanspice.com/catalog/item-20105.html. It mentions it also has a crisping effect on pickles.

    I knew a guy who would treat canker sores with alum.
    Phil
     
  3. phatch

    phatch Moderator Staff Member

    Messages:
    8,458
    Likes Received:
    453
    Exp:
    I Just Like Food
    Oh, as to a substitute? My mom always used grape leaves off our concord vine in with her pickles as a crisping agent.

    I don't think the grape leaf flocculates though.

    Phil