Canning and Preserving Class
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Lesson 3: Vinegar Pickling
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Introduction: Vinegar Pickling

This preservation technique can be used with either water bath canning or refrigeration to make pickled vegetables, chutneys, and more. All hail pickled delicious things!


Why This Method Works

The major player in this process for outsmarting the spoilers is vinegar and the low pH of the brine it creates. The high acidity of vinegar combined with either the heat of boiling water bath canning or the cold storage of refrigeration, alters the environment inside the jars enough to ensure safe preserving.

With canned pickles, because we're using the boiling water bath canning method, the combined ingredients must have a pH of 4.6 or lower. You can buy a pH meter to test your recipes, OR you can stick to the following rule:

Never dilute the vinegar in your brine with more than 50% water. As long as you stick to a ratio of a minimum of 50% vinegar, you will maintain safe levels of acidity.

NOTE: For the above rule to be effective, you must use vinegars that have a acetic acid content of 4.5% or higher. If you stick to using commercial vinegars, they should fall in that safe range. The label will provide that percentage info. (I personally like to use apple cider or red and white wine vinegars. White vinegar tends to taste astringent to me.) If you have your heart set on making your own vinegars, then it's imperative that you invest in a quality digital pH meter so you can be sure you're using something with a low enough pH.

With refrigerated pickles, the above rule isn't necessary to follow because of the effectiveness of cold storage against the spoilers. Using less vinegar will produce a milder flavor, with less of a bite. You will see that less vinegar is used in the fridge pickles we'll make next.

NOTE: A refrigerator recipe cannot be turned into a canned recipe unless you increase the amount of vinegar to meet the 50/50 vinegar to water ratio rule.


Tools & Equipment

Here's what you'll need if you decide to make each of the suggested projects in this lesson:

Refrigerator Pickles

Canned Dilly Carrots

*It's not necessary to sterilize the jars. Washing and drying them is enough as we'll be using cold storage in conjunction with the vinegar for the Refrigerator Pickles and we'll be boiling water bath canning the Dilly Carrots for 10 minutes.


Refrigerator Pickles

This recipe is the easiest of the two I recommend for pickling practice. As I said above, due to the effectiveness of cold storage against the spoilers, refrigerator pickles don't require canning. This makes them a quick breeze to make.

My instructable for Refrigerator Pickles (link below) is a gentle – and delicious – introduction to home pickling!

Refrigerator Pickles


Pickled Dilly Carrots

The next suggested project, is for delicious dill pickled carrots that can be either canned for long term storage, or, more simply, made to be kept in the fridge for up to 3 months.

In this instructable (see link below), I'll show you both methods for making and preserving these tasty snacks!

Pickled Dilly Carrots


Storage Tips

Canned Dilly Carrots

Store in a cool, dry place like a cupboard, pantry or root cellar for up to one year. Once opened, store pickles in the fridge and eat within 3 months.

Refrigerator Dilly Carrots

Store in the fridge for up to 3 months.

NOTE: For both versions, for maximum deliciousness let pickles rest in brine for 4-5 days before serving.


Put on Your Smart Pants

Cause it's quiz time!!

{
    "id": "quiz-1",
    "question": "Which of the following statements is true?",
    "answers": [
        {
            "title": "Vinegar is acidic = a high pH",
            "correct": false
        },
{
            "title": "Vinegar is acidic = a low pH",
            "correct": true
        }
       
    ],
    "correctNotice": "That's correct! Low pH means high acidity.",
    "incorrectNotice": "That's incorrect! Try again."
}
{
    "id": "quiz-2",
    "question": "For canned pickles, what is the highest ratio of water to vinegar allowed for making safe brine?": [
        {
            "title": "60% water / 40% vinegar",
            "correct": false
        },
{
            "title": "50% water / 40% vinegar",
            "correct": true
        }
    ],
    "correctNotice": "That's correct!",
    "incorrectNotice": "That's incorrect. You must NEVER add more water than there is vinegar in order to make a safe brine. You can have less water, but never less vinegar!"
}

What's Next?

Next up, we will explore the completely healthy and mouth watering world of lacto-fermentation!

CLASS PROJECT

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