This section is from the book "Save It For Winter.", by Frederick Fry Rockwell. Also available from Amazon: Save It For Winter; Modern Methods Of Canning, Dehydrating, Preserving And Storing Vegetables And Fruit For Winter Use, With Comments On The Best ... For Saving, And When And How To Grow Them.
Fruits, vegetables, or nuts to be "pickled" are put into an acid or saline solution. Pickled products "keep" merely because the bacteria, which constitute the army of General Decay, refuse to live and have their being in the brine or acid saturated tissues of the product. Those who are familiar with the old fashioned Dill Pickle, hooked out of an open barrel and handed out on a piece of brown wrapping paper, can in this instance sympathize with the bacteria! But there are good pickles, mighty good pickles. No supply of things to be kept for winter can be considered complete without a generous proportion. And, personally, I have never been able to understand why it is impossible to get manufactured pickles which are as good as those made at home, but such seems to be the case.
Sugar, like salt and acid, is used to help to preserve certain fruits and vegetables by making a condition that is unfavorable to the growth of destructive micro-organisms. It is the "common-denominator" in most jellies, preserves, and conserves. In many cases, however, much more sugar is used than is really required. This not only makes an unnecessary expense, but also a product that is insipid or oversweet, where a much more appetizing one might just as well be obtained. The use of perfectly fresh fruit and of sanitary methods in putting up the product will help materially in cutting down the amount of sugar necessary.