Can I safely substitute zucchini for cucumbers in this recipe?

jbmagJuly 11, 2010

I have an abundance of zucchini this year and found a recipe for dill zucchini pickles that doesn't include sugar (we don't like "sweet" pickles). It's awful! The texture of the zucchini was great, though, so I was wondering if I could safely substitute the zucchini for cucumbers in my favorite dill pickle recipe.

This is the brine:

2 c white vinegar - 5%

6 c water

1/3 c pickling salt

I pack cucumbers into the jar with a dill head and a garlic clove and pour the brine over the top. BWB for ten minutes.

My concern is that most recipes I find for zucchini pickles has a 1:1 ratio of vinegar and water. I will be using a 1:3 ratio in this recipe.

Thanks for the advise!

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Linda_Lou(SW Wa.)

Sorry, no. That recipe is not safe for any type of pickle. That is a really old recipe based on vinegar that was as much as 40 % acidity. Nowdays we use 5% acidity and brine must be at least half vinegar to water ratio. Anything less can lead to botulism. Some cheap vinegars and rice vinegars are only 4 %.
So, if you will use half 5 % acidity vinegar,half water, and then use the salt, dill, and garlic, and process for 10 min. you will be fine. Then you can use for both cukes and zucchini.

    Bookmark   July 11, 2010 at 6:51PM
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readinglady(z8 OR)

It's always a big help to provide sources for recipes. Otherwise we have to ask and wait or search to determine if it's safe-tested or not.

I see that dill pickle recipe is posted as an old favorite on the University of Minnesota Extension site, but they strongly caution that this is a recipe with less tolerance for acidity alterations, that jars should NOT be overpacked with cucumbers for the same reason and that processing times and temperatures (for Minnesota altitudes only) must also be properly controlled and monitored to be certain of sufficient heat treatment to kill spoilage microorganisms.

Basically that tells me this is a recipe with no margin for error in acidity, density or processing. I'm already uncomfortable with this pickle; I wouldn't consider subbing or changing anything.

My personal recommendation is to forget the zucchini. If you make the cucumber dills, be sure you're precise at every stage of the process.

Carol

Here is a link that might be useful: Minnesota Method Dills with Cautions

    Bookmark   July 11, 2010 at 7:05PM
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readinglady(z8 OR)

Linda_Lou, we cross-posted. It surprised me that this recipe specifies 4-6% vinegar, which makes it even more "interesting."

Carol

    Bookmark   July 11, 2010 at 7:07PM
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jbmag

Thanks so much for the advise. I think I'll try Linda's suggestion and increase the vinegar so it's half and half.

Appreciated!
jennifer

    Bookmark   July 11, 2010 at 7:56PM
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readinglady(z8 OR)

If you find the pickles are a little more sour than you care for, you can always add just a "pinch" of sugar after opening.

Also, apple cider vinegar is less harsh, though it may slightly darken the pickling solution.

Carol

    Bookmark   July 11, 2010 at 9:25PM
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pixie_lou

FWIW - I bought a package of the Mrs. Wages Kosher Dill Pickles Mix. The recipe on the back says to use:

3-1/3 cups white vinegar (5% acidity)
7-1/3 cups water
1 pkg Mrs. Wages Kosher Dill Pickle Mix

It goes on to say that if more liquid is needed use a ration of 1:2 vinegar:water.

So is this recipe safe? I always assumed you needed equal parts vinegar/water. I didn't read the pkg before purchase. And I was planning on making zucchini dills.

    Bookmark   July 11, 2010 at 9:56PM
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digdirt2(6b-7a No.Cent. AR HZ8 Sun-35)

Yes, the Mrs. Wages recipes packets are safe because they have added citric acid in the mix. They are fully acidified. The addition of citric acid is what allows for the lower ratio of vinegar to water in packaged mixes and in commercially canned pickles.

Dave

    Bookmark   July 11, 2010 at 10:17PM
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Linda_Lou(SW Wa.)

That information is 10 years old.. Plus, we are not thrilled with the Minnesota methods. They did their own independent study. As you can see, they do not meet USDA guidelines for safety.
I sure would not trust them. Not knowing what I have studied about botulism.
Check the package of Mrs. Wages and see if it has citric acid added. I do agree, I use cider vinegar due to the more mild flavor.

    Bookmark   July 11, 2010 at 10:50PM
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digdirt2(6b-7a No.Cent. AR HZ8 Sun-35)

Yeah I have never understood why the Minnesota extension's methods have never been updated to keep up with the times. All the other state extension's have kept current but it is as if MN is determined to be the last hold out of the 30's and 40's. They have several different recipes on their website that I sure wouldn't touch!

And yes, Mrs. Wages lists the citric acid on the package ingredients, or always has in the past. I haven't bought any packs this year to check if it is still there yet as I'm still using up last year's packets. It is in them.

Dave

    Bookmark   July 12, 2010 at 8:55AM
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pixie_lou

Thanks. I just read the Mrs. Wages packet - and yes, citric acid is listed as the last ingredient. We also have maltodextrin and "spice extractives". Salt and garlic are the only ingredients I can readily identify!

This was definitely an impulse purchase on my part.

    Bookmark   July 12, 2010 at 9:36AM
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readinglady(z8 OR)

It sounds like the Minnesota site is making a concession to canners who insist on making this old recipe. I don't know how stringent their testing is, but their language makes it very clear that there is no margin for error and it is a risk.

Pixie_Lou, while it is generally true that pickling recipes require a minimum of 1:1 vinegar to water, there are some safe-tested recipes that don't meet that minimum. You have to consider the source.

For example, this NCHFP recipe for Fresh-Pack Dills calls for 2 quarts of water to 1 1/4 quarts of vinegar. So there are exceptions. It's one of the more confusing aspects of canning.

Carol

Here is a link that might be useful: NCHFP Fresh-Pack Dills

    Bookmark   July 12, 2010 at 12:36PM
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Linda_Lou(SW Wa.)

I highly recommend that you all get yourself the most current USDA guidelines, The Ball Blue Book, and So Easy To Preserve.
Please read my message about the Univ. of Georgia. There is NO money to fund this any longer. They are doing all they can just to keep the website information online.

    Bookmark   July 12, 2010 at 2:13PM
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jbmag

One more quick question. . . if I use Linda Lou's suggestion and go half and half with the water and 5% vinegar, can I mess with the spices a little? Specifically, can I add cayenne pepper to the brine before pouring it over the packed zucchini, garlic clove and dill head?

Appreciate the advise! I'm always nervous about deviating from a canning recipe. The consequences could be scary!

    Bookmark   July 12, 2010 at 10:41PM
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Linda_Lou(SW Wa.)

The Minnesota site is old ! That is always something to check, the date of the information.
You can add as many and different dried things as you want, as long as you are not adding fresh things, it is fine.

    Bookmark   July 12, 2010 at 11:30PM
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readinglady(z8 OR)

There's no problem with adjusting amounts of dried spices, herbs, peppers.

Carol

    Bookmark   July 12, 2010 at 11:30PM
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readinglady(z8 OR)

That Minnesota site may be old, but I found the same recipe on sites from Michigan, Ohio, Florida, Maine, Pennsylvania, North Carolina, New Mexico. I quit searching at that point, but I'm sure there are more. Two sites were updated in 2008 and one in 2009. None except Minnesota offered the cautions I quoted, which actually makes them more safety-aware than comparable sites.

So it's understandable that home food processors would trust a USDA recipe (albeit an old one), posted on Extension/University authorized sites and offering recent revision dates.

Carol

    Bookmark   July 13, 2010 at 2:58AM
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