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Pickling question

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Pickling question

Post  Chopper on 8/16/2010, 4:22 pm

When I pickle something (OK, I have done it ONCE) I use equal parts vinegar and water. I have seen a 1 part vinegar to 3 parts water recipe also. Anyone have any thoughts on this?

I have read to use 5% vinegar as opposed to 4%. Wouldn't diluting it to a 1:3 parts have the same effect in lowering the acid content too much?

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Re: Pickling question

Post  Megan on 8/19/2010, 8:35 pm

Our good friend Ander217 has been teaching me a lot about canning. What you need to do is get the MOST CURRENT specs/recipes from a trusted source (like the most recent Ball Blue Book or your extension office), and use those. They update / change the rules from time to time. I have the most recent Ball book and they seem to use different dilutions (or no dilution) for different things... and I am much too new to it to understand why or to challenge their decisions. I'm just doing what they say. Botulism = BAD. flower
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Undiluted vinegar

Post  ander217 on 8/20/2010, 9:24 am

Chopper, the answer to your question is yes. You can dilute vinegar too much in pickling recipes to be safe. Unless I get a recipe from a trusted, up-to-date source such as a new Ball canning book, I now use only undiluted, 5% vinegar in my pickling recipes.

The ph of a food must be below 4.6 to be safely canned in a water bath. Some vegetables are more dense than others, so it may take higher concentrations of vinegar to bring the ph to the proper level. In addition the growing conditions and difference in varieties may raise or lower the amount of acid in a food. (That is why tomatoes are such a controversial food now - can they still be water bathed with extra acid added, or should they be pressure canned?) How many of us can check the ph of every food we can?

The experts have equipment which can test all the factors affecting ph of every food, and they base their recommendations on their findings. I don't have scientific equipment in my kitchen to test the ph of everything I make, so I use their recipes even though they may change again tomorrow as something new is learned. Food-borne illness from canned food is extremely rare, but I feel better knowing I'm feeding my grandchildren the safest food I know how to make.
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