Pickled Veges all too Vinegary

robyn_tx(8 Dallas)February 19, 2013

Hello - I spend time at several other forums, but just found this one - so glad I did.

Last year, my pickles (dills and B&B), and pickled beets and onions were all terrible. Every jar was very vinegary. I use recipes from Ball or other reputable sources and follow the ingredients precisely. I canned over the course of the week, so it's not like I had brain flatulence for a day and screwed up every recipe. :) Veges were all crisp, looked beautiful ... but can after can tasted terrible.

The only thing I can think of is that my canning salt is old. Would that matter? I don't know why it would - but it's the only thing I can think of.

Any of you experts have any other ideas?

Thanks

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readinglady(z8 OR)

How long did you wait before opening a jar? Pickled vegetables will mellow but you have to wait some time.
For example, if I can pickled beets in July or August, I normally don't eat them any earlier than Thanksgiving.
If you opened a jar within a week or two of canning, they will taste terrible.

Carol

    Bookmark   February 20, 2013 at 3:49AM
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digdirt2(6b-7a No.Cent. AR HZ8 Sun-35)

And what specific vinegar did you use? White or cider? Brand name?

Plus, give us a specific recipe you used ie. which Ball book and name of recipe so we can look it up to review.

Thanks.

Dave

PS: welcome to the forum too !! :)

    Bookmark   February 20, 2013 at 10:16AM
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eahamel(9a)

I agree that you need to wait. Some that I pickled last year taste wonderful now. Most are about a year old; I don't know how long it takes for them to mellow - I just put them on the shelves and forgot about them. But the vinegar has mellowed over time, that's for sure. I used the Ball book and Joy of Pickling for almost all of them.

    Bookmark   February 20, 2013 at 10:54AM
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wertach zone 7-B SC

I agree, time is on your side when pickling almost everything!

The taste improves with time, as stated above.

I make a sweet pickled squash, using a bread and butter recipe. I never touch it for at least 3 months, sometimes I can't wait, but it is even better after 6+ months!

I like it with beans in the winter so I always try to save a jar or two from the previous year so that when I get cold weather in the fall, I'm ready.

    Bookmark   February 20, 2013 at 3:56PM
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robyn_tx(8 Dallas)

Ahh, very good thought on the timing, and should have mentioned, but these were canned last May and I opened some as recently as this past weekend and they, too, were terrible. I usually let them rest for 8-10 weeks before I dare open a first jar. Seals are all just fine. Headspace seems fine. I use store-brand 5% white vinegar. It was freshly opened. I used Pickle Crisp as well for the cukes only.

My beet recipe was from Ball "Complete Book of Home Preserving" 2006, page 311. My B&B pickles, same book, page 303 Traditional B&B Pickles, which is a hot pack, single day recipe. Made twice before and were fine. Red Onions, same book, page 316, Red Onions in Vinegar. First time doing those.

My dills were from "Complete Book of Small-Batch Preserving" by Ellie Topp. (Great book for small batch and lots of great chutneys, relishes, etc. in this book!). These were 1-day brine, cold pack. In case you don't have that book, recipe is:

3 lb. cukes
8 C water- 4C tap and 4C cold
1/4 C pickling salt

Brine overnight, drain & rinse.

2 C white vinegar
2 C water
2 T pickling salt
4 heads dill
4 garlic cloves

Cold pack with dill & garlic, process 15 min for quarts.

Thanks all of you for taking an interest in helping me troubleshoot. I have had good results as a beginner canner (last 4-5 years) but this past year was so sad. Pic attached - they looked lovely! But only the chutneys and 'maters/sauce were edible.

    Bookmark   February 20, 2013 at 9:38PM
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digdirt2(6b-7a No.Cent. AR HZ8 Sun-35)

I use store-brand 5% white vinegar.

That is what I thought might be at least part of the issue. Off brand vinegars have flavoring issues sometimes. Plus cider vinegar works much better IMO. it is a more mellow flavor.

Just something to consider.

Dave

    Bookmark   February 20, 2013 at 10:25PM
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robyn_tx(8 Dallas)

Thanks, Dave. In all my 53 years I've never once bought name brand vinegar for anything but I can surely go to the expense for the canning. And they were all made from the same Kroger jug, so it could have been an off-batch. Appreciate the comment about cider vinegar ... funny I thought that would affect flavor negatively. I'll go learn more about that.

So I didn't hear any thoughts about the salt - which I thought was a silly theory anyway - but y'all are confirming that old salt is likely not a cause for problems. I even googled "does canning salt go bad?" and didn't find hits! LOL

Thanks again

    Bookmark   February 20, 2013 at 11:23PM
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laceyvail(6A, WV)

I too always use cider vinegar for pickles. I find white vinegar too sharp.

    Bookmark   February 21, 2013 at 6:07AM
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readinglady(z8 OR)

Traditionally, farm-based home canners used cider vinegar for pickling as it has a "softer" finish. Distilled vinegar tends to be very harsh. The apple cider base is generally pleasing and actually advantageous in most pickles.

The advantage of distilled vinegar is it doesn't darken the color of a light pickle, but there I use white wine vinegar instead, as it is also milder. I can't remember how long it's been since I used distilled for anything but cleaning.

Do be careful buying cider vinegar as even brand names sometimes are "cider-flavored" not true apple cider vinegar. I got fooled by that on a bottle of Heinz, of all things, and I learned my lesson.

Carol

    Bookmark   February 21, 2013 at 6:47PM
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eahamel(9a)

All salt is old. Very, very old. It's mined from dry areas that used to be salt water seas. I mean millions of years ago they were seas. So salt by definition is very old. It's a crystal - pure sodium chloride - and doesn't age.

I don't use white vinegar for anything except housecleaning. It's very good for cleaning drainboards, kills most of the germs. But I don't can or cook with it. I use specialty vinegars for everything else, especially for pickling. If you want good apple cider vinegar, go to a health food store. I don't use the store-bought stuff, even if it has some "mother" in the bottom. Although some grocery stores now do have Spectrum or Bragg's brands, which are good.

    Bookmark   February 22, 2013 at 10:40AM
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readinglady(z8 OR)

The last time I pickled beets I used the best organic cider vinegar I could locate. It really made a difference and the dark color was irrelevant in the beets.

Carol

    Bookmark   February 22, 2013 at 2:04PM
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sidhartha0209(KY_6a)

Wow, I've always used white vinegar to pickle my peppers because I thought it would be more 'neutral' than cider vinegar. I like cider vinegar and I cook with it a lot, I like the recipe for pickled peppers I have now but I'll try some with cider vinegar this year. I've always used the best vinegar, usually Heinz, that I can find.

This year I went with a 2 part vinegar, 1 part water, w/ 2 tsp salt per qt of solution, the pickled peppers are great, not vinegary at all. Go figure.

    Bookmark   February 22, 2013 at 4:11PM
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david52 Zone 6

I always use cider vinegar, and I get the best flavor results by mixing 1/2 - 1/2 the standard store cider stuff and organic, live mother Bragg vinegar. The later just costs too much to use exclusively, but I will do that for chutneys and such where flavor really matters.

I have neighbors who, until recently, made their own cider vinegar 'the old fashioned way' starting with bushels of apples from their own orchard. I had some pickles they'd made, and the flavor was amazing. Unfortunately, the matriarch passed away, and the kids are no longer interested, and the black bears took over the orchard.

    Bookmark   February 23, 2013 at 10:46AM
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robyn_tx(8 Dallas)

Just learning about Bragg's apple cider vinegar made this thread very valuable to me. Thanks so much!

    Bookmark   February 24, 2013 at 12:50AM
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sidhartha0209(KY_6a)

Went looking in WalMart for Bragg's vinegar yesterday and found that Heinz is now making raw unpasteuerized cider vinegar with the mother in it, so that's what I got, and it IS pricey, about 4-5 times the cost of distilled vinegar; ain't that crazy???

    Bookmark   February 25, 2013 at 10:45AM
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david52 Zone 6

The best place and best price for Bragg's is usually by the gallon in natural and health foode shoppes . It's still pricey, around $16 - but much better than buying it by the qt.

What I try to do is buy a gallon now and again over the course of a year, and then it isn't as painful when canning season rolls around.

    Bookmark   February 25, 2013 at 12:17PM
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sidhartha0209(KY_6a)

"The best place and best price for Bragg's is usually by the gallon in natural and health foode shoppes . It's still pricey, around $16 - but much better than buying it by the qt."

David, the Heinz raw unfiltered unpasteuerized cider vinegar with the mother in it I bought at WalMart yesterday was $3.98 a qt.

I think stretching the expensive stuff by blending it with standard vinegar is an excellent idea. I'm anxious to try the Heinz with some cold pack pickles, in cole slaw, and to make some salad dressing.

"Heinz now has a new variety that is very much the same as Bragg...it is Heinz Unfiltered Raw Unpasteurized With The Mother. Just purchased some at Walmart for about $3."

Here is a link that might be useful: Is the Heinz brand apple cider vinegar as good as Bragg ACV?

This post was edited by sidhartha0209 on Mon, Feb 25, 13 at 15:01

    Bookmark   February 25, 2013 at 2:47PM
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david52 Zone 6

I'll look for it. It must be a relatively new product, there aren't many sources with a quick google.

    Bookmark   February 27, 2013 at 10:54AM
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