Pickled some peppers for the first time...

jutsFL(9b (Orlando))July 22, 2014

I've never actually pickled any until today. I used some HHWax peppers of mine, and just kind of winged the rest after looking it up. I boiled vinegar,salt, and some garlic - then poured it over the peppers. Then proceeded to hot water bath. And I added some 'pickle crisp' made by Ball, it's just calcium chloride (apparently it's supposed to keep them crisp) - I guess I'll have to wait and see on that part though.

The other sauce in the pic is a new batch with Fresno, Takunatsume, and garlic. It's nice and thick with a strong garlic and pepper flavor - but very mild. I'd say maybe 2.5 out of ten on heat.

Here's the peppers in the pot:

Any tips for future pickling are appreciated. I'm sure there's something I left out of this round.


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Looks good to me! I'm planning on doing a few pepper mashes myself with some fermenting jars I made up with a few 32 oz jars and bubblers. Those sauces look amazing with that vibrant red!

    Bookmark   July 22, 2014 at 9:06PM
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You got some nice pepper there.

    Bookmark   July 22, 2014 at 9:11PM
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seysonn(8a WA/HZ 1)

I would pickle mild ones with thicker wall. Jalapeno, gypsy, banana, HHW and similar, If you like them real hot then add few hot ones.

Also, give it a nice color combination and contrast for visual appeal. . A plain green or yellow is too boring to me. It is easier to do it in slices than whole.

    Bookmark   July 22, 2014 at 9:26PM
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jutsFL(9b (Orlando))

Seysonn, I was thinking that after looking at them. Wished I had added a few reds to the jars.

And BrewJalokia, I have yet to venture into the ferments. I keep saying I will, but just haven't pulled the trigger on it.


    Bookmark   July 22, 2014 at 9:42PM
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esox07 (4b)

I hot canned several jars of HHW two years ago. They just get all mushy. I still have a couple jars left. I should probably just dump them as I don't envision I will ever use them. I just cold can mine now and keep them refrigerated. It certainly isn't as convenient and probably has a higher risk of spoilage, but they don't last too long in my house anyway. I love them on my sandwiches.

    Bookmark   July 22, 2014 at 9:49PM
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jutsFL(9b (Orlando))

Nice load of them Bruce, and great colors as well!


    Bookmark   July 23, 2014 at 6:59AM
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Great job Jay on your first pepper pickling. Before you know it, you'll be dabbling in more and more pepper concoctions!!



    Bookmark   July 23, 2014 at 7:21AM
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seysonn(8a WA/HZ 1)

I agree with Bruce. Cold caning is the best.

Here is the rough salt/vinegar ratios:

My 1-1-1 recipe
1 cup water
1 cup cider vinegar (5% acidity)
1 Table spoon pickling salt.
Multiply as wanted.

The other spices and ingredients are secondary and matter of personal preference. It does not matter if it is cukes or peppers or whatever. But pick something that is naturally crisp and crunchy.

I bring the solution gently to boiling temperature. Simmer at low heat, then pour on the packed pickling stuff in the jar. (keep the jar in hot tap water prior to this to prevent thermal cracking) It should kill most existing bad bacteria on the surface but it will not make the stuff mushy. You might want yo let it cool down a bit if you want.
Refrigerate !

pH principle:
Most (if not all) bacteria cannot survive/multiply/produce spores in acidic environment.
On the pH scale 7 is neutral. Higher than 7 is alkaline. Lower than 7 is acidic. For food preservation in liquid, a minimum pH of 4.6 is necessary (for BWB canning)but 4.2 and lower is recommended.
A 5% household vinegar has a pH of 2.4. When it is diluted 50/50 with water it will have a pH of 2.56.

    Bookmark   July 23, 2014 at 4:57PM
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Great thread all.

    Bookmark   July 23, 2014 at 7:11PM
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jutsFL(9b (Orlando))

Thanks for the input everyone. I will be going with the cold canning for the pickled peppers from here on out most likely. I seem to get the resounding response from here and elsewhere that my batch will be mushy (I'll still eat them nonetheless :) At least the next batch should pan out better !


    Bookmark   July 23, 2014 at 11:38PM
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Seysonn - I think you meant to say a MAXIMUM of 4.6 pH is acceptable. I like to keep my sauce below 4.0 if I'm going to keep it at room temp.
John A

    Bookmark   July 24, 2014 at 11:58AM
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I've commented on some other pickling threads recently - you do have to take the pH of the peppers (and any onions, garlic, etc.) into account so half 5% vinegar and half water is the bare minimum for safety - more vinegar is better. I gave some links to NCHFP and NMSU in those threads for recipes. Also recommended The Joy of Pickling - posted a refrigerator recipe and I think there is a mash recipe there.

Maximum pH for shelf storage, water bath canning is 4.6, 4.2 is better, below 4.0 and you can use litmus paper rather than pH meter.

    Bookmark   July 24, 2014 at 2:36PM
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seysonn(8a WA/HZ 1)

Seysonn - I think you meant to say a MAXIMUM of 4.6 pH is acceptable. I like to keep my sauce below 4.0 if I'm going to keep it at room temp.
John A
Yes John. Thanks for reminding.

Posted by ajsmama 5b (NW CT) (My Page) on
Thu, Jul 24, 14 at 14:36

I've commented on some other pickling threads recently - you do have to take the pH of the peppers (and any onions, garlic, etc.) into account so half 5% vinegar and half water is the bare minimum for safety ..

What is the basis for your reasoning , AJS ?
a 50/50 vin/wat has a pH of Even 25/75 vin/wat ratio will have a pH of 2.70.

People have the perception that pH change is directly proportional to acidity change.
When you dilute vinger by "m" fold, its pH does not go up by "m" fold. The change is logarithmic and inverse exponential.

pH = - log" sqrt(m*k)> :
m = molarity of acetic acid in the given solution
k = is a constant factor

    Bookmark   July 24, 2014 at 6:09PM
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Mecdave Zone 8/HZ 9

I'm not sure 50/50 water to vinegar is going to be strong enough. Here's an official recipe from NCHFP...


Also, here's a very good thread on canning. I believe the OP posted his recipe here recently in another pickling thread. Pay particular attention to what salsalady has to say, as she has her own commercial line of sauces and canned goods...


    Bookmark   July 24, 2014 at 6:35PM
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I canned alot of pickles with my peppers in them last year. I hot canned them but I soaked them in alum water first and they are crispy. The first ones I processed with out the alum soak were mushy and not very pleasant to eat.
I might try to make some this weekend.

    Bookmark   July 24, 2014 at 9:30PM
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seysonn, we went around and around on that over on Harvest. It's not just the acidity of the brine, you have to take the solids (less acidic) into account and the simple formula you gave above is only for weak acids in solution, not solids. With solids you have to account for water activity and the solid food's resistance to change in pH, called buffering capacity. Foods high in protein have more buffering capacity and are harder to acidify than vegetables, and vegetables are harder to acidify than water, which has no buffering capacity.

I do not know of any tables giving the buffering capacity of various foods - it also depends on the size, density, etc. of the vegetable (or fruit). That's why it's important to follow tested recipes, or if you are developing a recipe for a canned shelf-stable acidified food, to get it reviewed by a process control authority and tested by a lab and then DON'T CHANGE IT once you've got it down - or else you really should test it again. Even changing the size of the pieces can change the pH and the time it takes to reach equilibrium (which should be below 4.6 within 24 hours to prevent dangerous levels of botulinum toxin from forming).

    Bookmark   July 24, 2014 at 10:11PM
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seysonn(8a WA/HZ 1)

We are talking about pickling vegetables here, not canning meat and proteins. That is why acidification method is not used to preserve those item and pressure canning(high temperatures) used instead.

There are two categories of vegetables:

--- acid type : They are acidic
--- nonacidic: They are neutral or alkaline.

The latter have some buffer capacity to resist lowering pH value. The former can be readily acidified and preserved without a need for pressure canning.

Talking About Peppers:= acidic vegetable.

pepper are low acid vegetables with a pH range of 4.7 to 5.5. So they don't have a buffer capacity to resist lowering pH.

The term "approved" only refers to commercial production for resale. What remains is "recommendations".

Then again, You can always follow the so-called tested formula.

    Bookmark   July 25, 2014 at 6:48AM
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Mecdave Zone 8/HZ 9

Ok, I'll go ahead and quote salsalady...

QUOTE: BB and Sizzle, you are both doing a modified Hot Pack. BB didn't post the brine recipe*, but if it's like Sizzle's* it's fine. With the meticulous process of boiling the jars, heated brine, high vinegar ratio, slicing or at least slitting open the pods so the brine gets all the way in (and then sloshing the jars to make sure it DOES get into the pods), all those little details are important to the safe product and the success you have.

Usually, I'm in the "just because Gramma did it that way for 40 years and never got sick doesn't make it safe" camp. But in this case, you guys are doing it right. Part of the reason the FDA and Extension Services mandate to BWB everything is because people skip steps or don't have enough vinegar, etc. BWB pretty much just make it almost for sure safe. END QUOTE

*Note - BB's brine is the 5:1.25 Approved recipe, and Sizzle's is 3:1 w/7% vinegar.

Here is a link that might be useful: Canning without a waterbath

This post was edited by mecdave on Fri, Jul 25, 14 at 8:05

    Bookmark   July 25, 2014 at 7:54AM
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madferret(UK 8b-9a)

I've a pickling type question. I bought (rightly or wrongly) some acetic acid which is about 40% (from memory). I

If I dilute it 50/50 with water would that be equivalent to 20%?
If it's diluted 1:4 water would that make it equivalent to 5%?

Also is it really suitable? Or should I specifically pickling vinegar?

I'm not sure either of it's suitability or it's strength.


    Bookmark   July 25, 2014 at 12:03PM
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seysonn - I wasn't talking about pickling meat (though it can and is done), was just discussing buffering capacity. And yes, vegetables have some degree of buffering capacity whereas water doesn't which is where the simple formula breaks down. The denser the vegetable and/or harder the rind the more resistant to change in pH it is. So carrots and beets require more acid (and longer processing times and/or precooking before jarring) than peppers, and whole thick-skinned peppers require more than pepper rings or blanched peeled peppers. Heating the vegetables in the acid bath helps to acidify them, whereas cukes for example are mostly water and don't have as much buffering capacity so just heating the acid solution and pouring it over them is enough (heat processing after closing the jars helps too but in cucumber pickles is mainly done to kill other microbes and extend shelf life by killing mold spores and creating a strong vacuum).

I'm sure there must be tables online that have the buffering capacity of various vegetables but I didn't find any the other night and I'm not paying $150 for a food science book to look it up. But just b/c I can't produce such a table doesn't mean I'm making this stuff up.

Read paragraph 2, top of 2nd page in the attached PDF where it mentions buffering capacity if you don't believe me that this applies to vegetables.

"...some barriers exist in the
preparation of acidified foods, including inadequate acid in the cover brine to overcome
buffering capacity of the food, the presence of alkaline compounds from peeling or other
processing aids, and the peels, waxing, piece size or oil in the product which can cause a barrier
to penetration of the acid."

You're free to do anything you want in your kitchen, but following "approved" USDA recipes for home canning is smart if you don't want to put family and friends at risk. And following FDA regulations regarding review, testing, and approval of recipes is required for interstate commerce. Within state - that depends on the state's cottage food laws, but it's prudent to at least follow the USDA recommendations even if the laws are pretty lax just to CYA.

salsalady sells her stuff refrigerated (and not a strong vacuum b/c it's not BWB'd) - but she's right that you need enough acid. Wrong that BWBing will make up for it if not - in fact, the opposite. As I said on other thread(s), botulism toxin can form in the anaerobic environment if pH is over 4.6, so it's actually safer NOT to seal the jars (either by BWBing or open-kettle - what she calls modified hot pack - and just refrigerate them if you don't know that the pH is below that.

madferret - wow, that's strong stuff! Be careful handling it, it's very caustic. In the U.S. I guess we used to be able to buy 20% vinegar and so the recipes called for less water than they do now. You will have to dilute that to use - are you sure it's food-grade? Even if it is, I don't know that I'd want to handle it in the kitchen - or anywhere. Wear gloves and googles! Did you buy it for weed killer?

My apologies to Jay for getting sort of OT - I'm sure your sauce is fine if you used straight vinegar. Judo had posted a while ago on Harvest - if you have any questions about the safety of your recipe you can post over there and get some more experienced eyes to look at it - or call your local extension office. I'm not an MFP, have just been pickling a few years and took the FDA's acidified food course last year.

Edited to add: there is no such thing as an "acidic" vegetable - though peppers are a fruit (and so are tomatoes), tomatoes are borderline acidic which is why USDA recommends adding acid to jars when canning (though FDA gives an exemption to tomato products under 4.7 - ? - and doesn't consider them "acidified foods"). Anything under 4.6 requires acidification for safe BWBing - that includes peppers, onions, cucumbers, etc. that we consider vegetables as well as borderline or low-acid fruits such as tomatoes, figs, melons and Asian pears.

If you don't want to acidify (pickle) them, you have to pressure can, though USDA also recommends acidifying tomatoes before PCing - probably because of the very short processing time.

Here is a link that might be useful: Food Safety Considerations - in plain English

This post was edited by ajsmama on Fri, Jul 25, 14 at 18:37

    Bookmark   July 25, 2014 at 6:29PM
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I wouldn't trust any formula. Get yourself a meter. Not too expensive. I think I paid about $30 for mine.
John A

    Bookmark   July 26, 2014 at 12:49PM
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A good meter is a lot more than that - you'll spend that on the solutions for calibrating it. I'd go with tested recipes for home canning rather than trusting a meter that may give a false sense of confidence.

    Bookmark   July 26, 2014 at 2:12PM
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madferret(UK 8b-9a)

Ajsmama- Yes I'll be careful, gloves and goggles for sure,probably even an old lab coat I have too.

I just checked and it said 9:1 water and vinegar to make 4% vinegar and it is for pickling. I don't think it's from fermentation though so I'm presuming they'll be next to no flavour.

I'll give it a go in a small batch and see what the results are. :)

    Bookmark   July 27, 2014 at 6:27AM
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That math works out if it's 40%. But I'm still worried that this isn't food-grade (I didn't think 40% would be). Since you say no fermentation it must be synthetic or made from methanol or acetaldehyde (butane or naptha). I had to look it up ;-)

I'd really recommend just buying vinegar at the grocery store. According to Wikipedia, "many" (most?) food purity laws say you have to use vinegar made by fermentation.

If you use American recipes remember that they are based on 5% vinegar so if you buy 4% just use it straight (subbing for any water in the recipe so that you have enough "brine").

Here is a link that might be useful: Wiki link to acetic acid

    Bookmark   July 27, 2014 at 9:05AM
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madferret(UK 8b-9a)

Thanks for the help.

I'll have a look for some proper vinegar I think, and save that stuff for weed killer. I'm looking forward to good crop of fruit & veg this year as we've had an excellent summer (for a change). :)

    Bookmark   July 28, 2014 at 2:52AM
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I'm glad you saw my post before you started. I was worried about you!

    Bookmark   July 28, 2014 at 9:30AM
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