Agro articles in EnglishAgriculture

A Lab That Keeps Us All Out of a Pickle
(Part 2)

Applying the Lab Work
After ARS’s pickle pasteurization work helped reduce spoilage in the industry, pickles became less expensive, and dill pickle slices became popular on burgers in restaurants everywhere.Zink, who has been involved in both the introduction of FDA’s new 5 log reduction requirement and formulating guidance for how to implement it, extolls all the “extra” steps Breidt has taken, saying, “That’s what is so important about what Breidt and this lab do.

Both FDA and industry can depend on the objective data, the basic science, and his depth of knowledge and expertise so that both sides understand how to reach the goal of great pickles with great assurance of food safety.

“There are not many instances where we have scientists working that closely with both industry and regulators. It’s a very good model that promotes a level of cooperation that I wish we would see more often,” he adds.
Brian Bursiek, executive vice president of Pickle Packers International, the principal industry association, echoes Zink’s praise for the ARS Food Science Research Unit. “Because the staff in Raleigh are intimately familiar with pickling production processes and FDA requirements and procedures, they can help clarify what changes actually mean and require,” Bursiek says. “They are helpful in educating industry about how to comply. The lab provided science-based solutions when the industry and FDA needed them.”

Some products are still packed by hand, but food safety always comes first.The respect that the lab’s work engenders also supports FDA in other crucial ways. For example, having Breidt’s precise data on what conditions achieve a 5 log reduction, an FDA inspector at the U.S. border was well armed while checking a large, very expensive shipment of olives coming from Italy. The inspector found the pH of the solution that bathed the olives to be much higher than what Breidt had reported as effectively safe.

“Given the six-figure value of that shipment, we actually called Fred to double check that the pH was out of the safe range, and then we rejected it for import,” Zink says. “Because of this lab’s work, there was definitive, objective science on which we based our decision. The import company didn’t even go to court to try and fight the FDA ruling in the face of such respected science.”

That wasn’t the first time the ARS Food Science Research Unit’s work has been of specific use to FDA, according to Zink. “Once in a while, when state or FDA inspectors see a pickle production operation for the first time, they are surprised to see large, 10,000-gallon vats open to the sky.

They get a little excited and want lids added or suggest that the vats should be made of stainless steel,” he recounts. “I always pull out an old journal paper proving that it is the ultraviolet light from the sun that is the sanitizing agent for those vats of cucumbers, that the sunlight prevents mold growth, so they need to be open to the sky and sun. The author of that paper was John L. Etchells, the first research leader of the ARS lab.”
That work is just part of a long history of contributions from the ARS Food Science Research Unit.

A Lab With History
In 1986, ARS’s Henry Fleming (right), best known for helping find the cause of “bloating” during cucumber fermentation, walks among wooden open-top tanks used by the pickle industry with North Carolina State University professor Ervin Humphries (left) and Douglas Brock of the Mt. Olive Pickle Company.Etchells, who led the lab from 1937, shortly after it was formally organized, until he retired in 1975, made many contributions to the science of safe and efficient commercial pickling.

But perhaps his greatest contribution was developing the first commercial pasteurization process for grocery store shelf-stable pickles. He also improved the fermentation process and reduced spoilage by a significant amount, which helped make pickles less expensive and increased their consumption in the United States. For example, dill pickle slices became a standard accompaniment on hamburgers in restaurants everywhere, and today, they represent 25 percent of the pickle market.

So highly regarded have his processes been for providing food safety that, in the mid-1990s, they got a pickle supplier off the hook for a food recall when a fast-food chain tried to blame the hamburger pickle as a source of staphylococcal enterotoxin, which would have required a large-scale product recall. The ARS lab tested the supplier’s pickle slices for FDA and found that they were indeed clean. Other studies by the lab showed that the positive enterotoxin test was a false positive, caused by natural peroxidase enzymes that formed during the fermentation process. This was accepted as confirmation that the pickles did not contain any enterotoxin.

Etchells also worked out the first preservation prediction chart in the 1950s for sweet pickles that were not pasteurized by heat. It gave an acid/sugar/salt combination for commercial production, ensuring pickles that would be stable during shelf storage.

“This chart is still used as an industry standard,” says Carl Gilbert, product planning and scheduling manager for B&G Foods, North America, Inc., in Hurlock, Maryland. “It is still our benchmark. For example, when we are developing a new relish product that is going to be made from fermented pickled vegetables and not thermal-processed (pasteurized), we go back to that chart to be sure we are on the correct side of food safety. If we didn’t follow this chart and then had to do a full pasteurization, it would really affect the flavor and texture of the product.”

More Advances
Microbiologist Ilenys P�rez-D�aImportant advances continued to flow from the lab after Henry Fleming followed Etchells as research leader from 1977 until 2003. Foremost among these was finding the cause of “bloating”—pockets of gas that balloon up within cucumbers during fermentation—which disqualified as much as one-third of each standard 10,000-gallon production batch from its highest value use as whole pickles. Reducing bloat was an economic revolution for the industry.

Fleming, along with his successor, ARS chemist Roger F. McFeeters, who was research leader from 2003 to 2011, began working on the pickling industry’s major environmental problem—disposing of large amounts of brining salt. Brine disposal was one of the factors that helped push California olive pickling and processing out of that state and overseas in the 1980s. Environmental regulations have only continued to tighten since then.

Food technologist Suzanne JohanningsmeierFleming’s and McFeeters’s work, which increased brine recycling many fold, is considered the lab’s third great revolution, this time both economic and environmental, for the pickling industry.

Today, ARS microbiologist Ilenys Pérez-Díaz and ARS food technologist Suzanne Johanningsmeier are continuing McFeeters’s work by replacing brining salt—sodium chloride—with calcium chloride. When it comes to environmental disposal, calcium chloride can be a desirable soil amendment rather than a pollutant.

“Roger McFeeters came up with the idea that sodium chloride could be substituted by calcium chloride to maintain firmness,” recounts Pérez-Díaz. “In laboratory studies, we found that it retains firmness in the cucumbers and even speeds up the microbiological work of fermentation. The problem is that in the absence of salt, it also speeds up the microbial activity of spoilage bacteria.”
To remedy that, the team tested adding sodium benzoate, fumaric acid, and horseradish extract, which is known to have antifungal properties.

Chemist Roger McFeeters“Our team finally came up with a technology that looked workable and reduced the amount of sodium chloride that would need to be disposed of by up to 80 percent,” Pérez-Díaz says.

Then they turned to nearby Mt. Olive Pickle Company, the largest independent pickle company in the United States, to try out the technology under commercial conditions. Mt. Olive technical services director Janet Turner says, “We were interested in the ideas because we want to show continued efforts to reduce chloride usage in our processes.”

The company started out experimenting with calcium chloride fermentation in eight 55-gallon barrels in 2010. By 2013, Mt. Olive was using the technology in 80 tanks, turning about 66,000 bushels of calcium chloride-fermented cucumbers into hamburger dill chips and several flavors of pickle relishes and salad cubes.

“Working with ARS researchers gave us access to knowledge and lab analyses in the beginning that would have been difficult for our company to obtain on our own,” Turner says. “The time and experience of Drs. McFeeters, Pérez-Díaz, and Johanningsmeier and their support staff gave us the confidence to conduct these trials.”

Now Pérez-Díaz and Johanningsmeier are working on applying the calcium chloride technology to gherkin pickles that are imported from India. They undergo a 40-day Atlantic transit time packed in vinegar, salt, and sulfite, which is now being considered as an undesirable ingredient for people who are sensitive to it.

Pickled relishes.“We are designing a system in small jars, reducing the salt and replacing it with calcium chloride and replacing the sulfite with fumaric acid and other natural preservatives. Right now, we are testing at the 40-liter semi-commercial scale,” says Pérez-Díaz.

The United States is a major gherkin market, but India also supplies them to many other countries, so improving the health and environmental circumstances of this product could have worldwide impact.—By J. Kim Kaplan, Agricultural Research Service Information Staff.

In the photos:

1. After ARS’s pickle pasteurization work helped reduce spoilage in the industry, pickles became less expensive, and dill pickle slices became popular on burgers in restaurants everywhere.

Photo by Stephen Ausmus.

2. Even at the country’s biggest independent pickle producer, Mt. Olive Pickle Company, some products are still packed by hand, but food safety always comes first.

Photo by Mt. Olive Pickle Co.

3. In 1986, ARS’s Henry Fleming (right), best known for helping find the cause of “bloating” during cucumber fermentation, walks among wooden open-top tanks used by the pickle industry with North Carolina State University professor Ervin Humphries (left) and Douglas Brock of the Mt. Olive Pickle Company.

Photo by Robert Flynn.

4. Microbiologist Ilenys Pérez-Díaz is part of an ARS team that has developed new technology that replaces as much as 80 percent of the sodium chloride in brining liquid with calcium chloride.

Photo by Peggy Greb.

5. Food technologist Suzanne Johanningsmeier was also part of the team that showed how to replace most of the sodium chloride in brining liquid with calcium chloride. The technology helped solve a major environmental disposal problem for the pickling industry.

Photo by Sandra Parker.

6. ARS chemist Roger McFeeters (second from right), who led the Raleigh laboratory from 2003 to 2011, discusses pickle making with producers in India, who must meet U.S. safety standards if they want to export their products to the country.

Photo by USDA-ARS.

7. Pickled relishes.

Photo by Mt. Olive Pickle Co.

Thanks to our friends at Agricultural Research Service!

Larisa English Club Explained

written by Billgreen54 ESL Tutor

Larisa English Club is all about you; students of the English language. Your desire to study and speak great English is why we have created this on-line English resource.


Larisa English Club is a work in progress from years of experience in the classroom. Professional English teachers and students contribute to our English Club with ideas and experiences.


Our website has content created for learners of a second language. Free resources for students as well as teachers of the English language is our main goal.

Video files from Larisa English ClubVideos are posted often and provide English learners with information all about the English language. English videos should be viewed as supplements to your daily dose of English language study.


We encourage comments and language requests from students and teachers alike. We hope you enjoy our videos and educational content found throughout our site.

Contributors to our website are teachers and educators who care about you. They are constantly surrounded by English learners of a second language.

Audio files from Larisa English ClubAudio educational content is provided with resources from Larisa English Club contributors and English education partners. Many of our resources can be downloaded completely free of charge.

Look for content on our website that displays a special “Download Now” link. Our purpose for offering free educational content is to allow students the opportunity to study anytime, anywhere.

PDF files from Larisa English ClubPDF resources can be found throughout our site. English resources from beginner to advanced have been created by many educational providers.

Study English at a level you feel slightly challenged with and your English will improve daily. We encourage comments and suggestions at Larisa English

What is the best way to learn and remember English? Simple! Teach others. What do I mean by “Teach others?” That is simple to!

Learn English by teaching your friends and family what you have learned. Do it over and over, it will stay with you for a long time, maybe forever!

Study the areas of English that interest you the most. Surprisingly, you will learn other parts of English too.

All learners of a foreign language must remember that repetition is key to memorizing what you study. Studies have shown that it takes an English learner an average of seventeen interactions with specific elements to make that knowledge stick. In other words, after being exposed to a certain part of just about anything including English, you will most likely not forget soon.

What is the best method to study and learn great English? The truth is; There isn’t just one! Facts are facts. Everyone learns differently.

Some students like reading. Some like listening. Some like lecturing. It is all about you and what interests you. I can tell you from personal experience teaching English over nine years, no two people are the same.

That said, most successful learners of English, do it by teaching others first. The second best way might be when we speak to others. Group discussion is an important element to speaking.

Without practice and some challenges, students learn to speak fluently slower. If you want to speak great English, practice speaking with others.

Don’t forget, learning the basics in English should always come first for a second language. Speaking can also be incorporated in your English study at the earliest stages of your learning journey.

There is one great way to evaluate your English. It is simple called “Progress”. With progress you are moving ahead and towards new elements in English. If you have to relearn today what you learned yesterday, you have work to do.

The main idea is to make daily progress. If you are making daily progress, you are doing it right. For students who feel they are standing still with English, try something different.

It might be your study habits or one of many other factors. Just take a look at what you are doing everyday and just know that progress is the key to learning and speaking great English.

Once you have studied and learned the basics in English grammar, now it is time to practice, practice, practice. This is always a great idea with friends, family and colleagues.

They help you and you help others. Speaking fluency should be your number one goal. Proper pronunciation is also key to speaking understandably.

Some students and teachers believe that English can be studied and learned without grammar. This is simply not true. Many students are told this by teachers who don’t know grammar either.

This is very dangerous. Not knowing grammar before trying to use it in spoken English is always a bad idea. Once a student buys into this idea of speaking without grammar, he or she always forms nasty habits. Most of the time, these habits are impossible to break.

At some stage in your study of English, you will get to a point where you have a mountain of questions. This is often one of the last stages in English. This is when you need to work with an English teacher that can answer those questions.

This can only be done by someone who is qualified, confident and experienced. Never trust an unqualified person to teach you English or answer your questions.

Work with a qualified English teacher who will answer your questions accurately with confidence.

One important key to learning better and better English is continual exposure to the language. This can be a number of different ways but, do what is best for you. Is it music? What about watching your favorite sitcom? Does your spouse speak English?

Can you practice together? While there are many ways to learn just about anything, practice and being around others is one of the best methods of attaining English proficiency.

Once you feel confident that you have learned as much as needed to achieve your goals, now it is time for more vocabulary. Vocabulary along with speaking English is essential.

When you get to the Intermediate level of English, study new vocabulary daily. Look for three and four syllable words. As we climb that ladder of English proficiency, we need to speak and understand others.

Native speakers of English as well as advanced ESL students speak with words that might be more specific in meaning. To better understand others, you need vocabulary.

Remember, words are just words until you decide how to use them. Most nouns can be used as verbs while many verbs can also be used as nouns. A word is just a word until you decide what job to assign it.

The same goes for all words in English. Most people know the word “Yes” as an adverb. Did you know it is also a noun. Just like all words in English that follow the “Article” as a single word, it is a noun.

Verbs, Modifiers and Adjectives work the same way. To play the record (Noun) or to record (Verb) or to happen in a record time (Modifier). Another example might be the word “Live”. To live (Verb) in a country or to attend a live (Adjective) concert.

Remember that a word is just a word until you have decided how to use it in a statement. The usage and pronunciation might change.

What is the best way to study English? As mentioned before, there isn’t one. That said, for most people who study with a private tutor, progress is often faster. On-line lessons are another great way to study as well.

For those who like or need the interaction in a classroom with others, group study might be best. A professional private language school should offer, private, semi-private, mini-group and group lessons.

Remember that many schools refer to an hour of English as an academic hour. An academic hour of English is just 45 minutes. Professional private language schools always teach a full 60 (Sixty) minutes for each lesson.


What’s New?

The Antarctic is Turning Green
Larisa Article written by Billgreen54 ESL Tutor

The Antarctic is Turning Green

Ian Johnston Independent Environment Correspondent

Scientists say the frozen continent is likely to ‘alter rapidly under future warming, leading to major changes in the biology and landscape of this iconic region. The Antarctic is turning green with rising temperatures having a “dramatic effect” on the growth of moss in the frozen continent, scientists have discovered. Since 1950, temperatures in the Antarctic Peninsula have risen by about half a degree Celsius each decade. This is much faster than the global average.

The Antarctic

Growth rates of moss since 1950 have been running at four to five times the level before. This is according to a study by UK-based researchers who studied three sites across a 1,000km stretch of the peninsula. In addition to climate change, the extinction of animal species is prolific. Plastic waste, fossil fuel ash and radioactive particles from nuclear bomb tests will all leave a permanent record in the planet’s future rocks.

“Between 1950 and 2000, temperatures increased by half a degree per decade on average,” said Dr Amesbury of Exeter University. “The reason we are so confident the moss is responding primarily to temperature, is because of the wide-scale response we see in our moss banks from three different sites that stretch 1,000km across the Antarctic Peninsula.”

The researchers who reported the results of their study in an open-access paper in the journal “Cell Biology”, also looked into how sensitive the moss would be to further warming.

“The results of that analysis lead us to believe there will be a future ‘greening’ of the Antarctic and a further increase in moss growth rates. “We are likely to see massive amounts of moss colonizing new areas of ice-free land created by the warmer climate.

Read more here.

History Topic!

Land Discovery of The Antarctic in 1675

Thank you Wiki.

The first Antarctic land discovered was the island of South Georgia, visited by the English merchant Anthony de la Roché in 1675. Although myths and speculation about a Terra Australis (“Southern Land”) date back to antiquity, the first confirmed sighting of the continent of Antarctica is commonly accepted to have occurred in 1820 by a Russian expedition. The first human born in the Antarctic was Solveig Jacobsen. He was born on 8 October 1913 in South Georgia.

Scientists in the Antarctic

The Antarctic region had no indigenous population when first discovered. It’s present inhabitants comprise of just a few thousand transient scientific and other personnel. They work on tours of duty at several dozen research stations maintained by various countries. However, the region is visited by more than 40,000 tourists annually, the most popular destinations being the Antarctic Peninsula area (notably the South Shetland Islands) and South Georgia Island.

In December 2009, it was noted that the growth of tourism, brought along with it, consequences for both the ecology and the safety of the travelers in its great and remote wilderness. This was at a conference in New Zealand conducted by experts and signatories of the Antarctic Treaty. The definitive results of the New Zealand conference were presented at the Antarctic Treaty states’ meeting in Uruguay in May 2010.

Conversation Topic

Leading statements and questions

For learners of a second language, sometimes, dialog or conversation can be difficult.

For learners of a second language, sometimes, dialog or conversation can be difficult. Conversation engagement, is not that difficult with a few simple tricks. Asking a simple question to start out a conversation is easy with simple question words. I covered question words in a previous English Club.

Question words are often needed to carry on a conversation. The idea is to ask questions connected to details already mentioned. Try to do this while the other person is speaking. This is easy by visualizing objects and situations that are connected.

I call these “Leading Statements and Questions”. It is all about dialog and how to continue a conversation. Now, we go back to those questions words and how they connect. Here’s an idea and example. “What is your favorite food?”. An answer might be “My favorite food is pizza”. Now visualize in your thoughts “What kind of pizza do you like?”. Another question could be; “How often do you eat pizza?” or “Where do you eat pizza?” or “What is your favorite pizza?” or “Why is pizza your favorite?”

You can ask many questions with question words with leading questions and visual thoughts. Here! Take a look at a few examples with our speaking practice…

Speaking Practice

Creating Dialog with Leading Questions

Notice how I focus on the “Park” and “Connections” to the park along with other details relating to the park.

Larisa English Club Speaking PracticeDialogues

Leading questions are easy when you get the hang of it. Practice questions in English and keep the conversation going.

Basic Grammar Review

Prepositions of Place, Movement and Time

Classroom posters are another way for students to learn from and have a reference point when working with a teacher and fellow students.

English prepositions are always fun to learn. It helps if a teacher has classroom teaching aides to assist with examples. Classroom posters are another way for students to learn from and have a reference point when working with a teacher and fellow students.

English prepositions are all about place, movement and time. Before getting started with prepositions, there are two important words to teach as thoroughly as possible.

Start with the word “Arbitrary”. The word arbitrary is used when we refer to something when relevance is not exact. In this case, the word’s “something or anything are indefinite”.

The main objective here is to help students better understand that, when describing with prepositions, often there is more than one choice. In other words, examples like “Please sit near the table or by the table” have little difference in meaning. The main idea is to learn how to communicate. If we both understand what the other is saying; isn’t that perfect English? Or better yet! Perfect communication.

The second important word to learn is “Collocation”.

The second important word to learn is “Collocation”. Collocations or colloquial speech is when we use words in a certain order that are common in English. Commonly spoken word combinations are easier to understand than one might think. Collocations can be used many different ways in English. Common statements, phrasal verbs and the list goes on and on.

 One of the best ways to teach collocations and common word order is with a list of examples. This is done in order of importance. In other words, start by writing a simple statement with the most popular word combination or collocation. Examples might include, “Please have a seat at the table” or “Please have a seat by the table”.

Although these statements mean two different things, they are used universally. The main idea here is “Which word combination is used more commonly?”. Please sit “AT” the table is more common compared to; Please sit “BY” the table. Therefore “AT” is more common compared to “BY”.

Can we use both examples? Yes! Why? Because, I understand you!

Typical time expressions are all about colloquial speech. Place and movement prepositions are generally specific to places and movement but, many can be interchanged.

This is due to the difference between perfect grammar and spoken English. Again, it is often more important to communicate understandably, than to attempt to speak perfect English.

So, which prepositions are the ones we should start with and why teach prepositions in chunks? There are three to start with. Those would be “At, In, On”. These are the three most common prepositions. One of the best ways to learn prepositions is to connect them with understandable words. In other words; Vocabulary that you already know.

In English, there are many methods of teaching grammar. The main idea is to ask questions.

In English, there are many methods of teaching grammar. The main idea is to ask questions. Why do we use the word “AT?” “We use the word “AT” with locations or places”. Why do we use the word “IN?” “We use the word “IN” with limits”. Why do we use the word “ON?” “We use the word “ON” when two things touch”. These are common examples and general thoughts. There are exceptions to just about every rule in English. Just remember collocations and flexible English.

Choose other preposition words to chunk together and form common ways to describe identical situations. All students need to know that while all speech is important, the main goal should always be understandable communication. If an expression or statement is not perfect English but, the other fully understands your statement, isn’t that perfect English?

English Grammar

Reported Speech

A few simple thoughts about “Reported Speech”. There are two ways to report what happened or what someone said, “Direct Reported Speech” and “In-direct Reported Speech”.

Direct reported speech is used when we use the same tense when stated. In other words, if someone says “Hello”, we can refer to the statement with something like “He says hello!”. In this example, we use the same tense as what was said.

“Indirect reported speech” is when we refer to a statement or fact from the past and go back one tense in our statement. So, if someone said “I am hungry” we would say “He said he was hungry”. Notice how the verb “To be” changed from “Am to Was”. In this example, we went back one tense to refer to what was said.

Reported Speech

Another important element to “Reported Speech” is when we use “Modal Auxiliary Verbs”. In direct speech, we use the same modal verb used. In other words, if someone something like “I will go to work next week”, you report with the same modal verb. If you report with indirect speech, use “Would”. So, will to would, can to could, may to might and so on.

This is just a short explanation for reported speech. For more information regarding reported speech, look for grammar books at the Intermediate level and above.

Until next time…

I hope you enjoyed Larisa English Club number 5. Remember that “Life is an Adventure”. Live it to the fullest each and every day!


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