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Thread: Pickle Pros please advise!

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Sep 2003
    Rochester, MN

    Unhappy Pickle Pros please advise!

    Hi Everyone, I'm usually just a lurker in these parts, but I thought I'd come out of hiding to seek help from any pickle experts.

    I just made 24 jars of dill pickles. Only now did I realize that I used only half as much salt as the recipe called for. How frightened should I be? Are my pickles hopeless?

    I used:

    12 C. water
    4 C white vinegar
    and 1/3 C. salt (should have been 2/3 )

    They are all processed and sitting on my counter cooling. Drat! Any thoughts appreciated!

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Apr 2002
    I just did a pickle recipe that was 2 3/4 c water and 2 3/4 vinegar plus 1/4 cup salt, processed for 10 minutes in a closed BWB. Based on these ratios (and other safe pickling recipes) your ratios seem low. Typically most pickling recipes use a 1:1 ratio of vinegar and water to ensure a high enough acidity for safety. Did you do a closed BWB on these?

    You might want to post this on

    They have a lot of helpful people there. Sorry I'm not much help! I hope your recipe is safe!

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Sep 2003
    Rochester, MN
    I did process them for 15 minutes in the hot water bath following this recipe:

    It's the recipe I followed last year, and they were wonderful.

    Most recipes I've seen call for a 1:1 vinegar to water ratio, but this one is 1:3 It worked fine last year, but this year I'm worried about my salt concentration.

    Thanks for the tip about the other board.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Nov 2000
    Hmm, my dill pickle recipes call for a 1:3 vinegar to water ratio. I don't have a Ball book here but a quick look at The Joy of Pickling shows a wide variety of vinegar/water ratios from all vinegar to 1:3 to 1:5 to 2:3 and so on.

    I've messed up on the salt before but I never even thought about the safety of the pickles. I figured the vinegar was the important part because of the acidity. I threw them out because of taste. But I forgot to add any salt and you added some.

    And unfortunately a quick look on Google looks like your pickles and mine are not safe. I'll quote this one from the Colorado State University Extension Office cause they explain it pretty good:

    Cider or white vinegar of 5 percent acidity (50 grain) is recommended for pickling. Bottled lemon juice also can used. Do not use homemade vinegar or vinegar of unknown acidity in pickling. Do not dilute the vinegar unless the recipe specifies this. If a less sour product is preferred, add sugar rather than decrease the vinegar.

    Often old pickle recipes will call for less vinegar than water. This is a potential safety problem because enough acid must be present to prevent growth of dangerous pathogens. Recently a Consumer asked if her quick dill pickle recipe passed down from her mother was safe. It called for two cups water for every cup of vinegar.

    In the past, vinegar was sold as seven percent acetic acid. Commercial vinegar is now 5 percent acetic acid. Old recipes developed for stronger vinegar might not contain sufficient acid to be used with today's 5 percent vinegar.

    In this case, if the Consumer makes her mother's recipe as is, it must be stored in the refrigerator for safety. For room temperature storage, the amount of vinegar must be increased so at least as much vinegar as water (1 part vinegar to 1 part water) is used. In addition, the pickles must be processed in a boiling water canner.

    Safe pickle recipes are those tested and published by USDA. They are available through land grant universities, such as Colorado State University Extension. Also those recipes having at least one part vinegar to one part water ratio are safe.

    Here's a canning hotline and several sites you can email (info from the University of Nebraska's food safety extension office):

    National Center for Home Food Preservation

    You can email them canning questions here:

    Alltrista (source of Ball® and Kerr® canning products) also has an email or a consumer canning hotline you can call:




    They must have changed the rules again because I took my grandma's recipe, which didn't even call for BWB, and did some really careful research on it to see if it was safe and the only thing I ended up altering was adding a BWB for 10 minutes. But that research was at least 10 years ago. so I guess I'm outdated And I guess I better go look at that date on The Joy of Pickling too.

    If you do post on the other board or contact any of those places, I'd be interested in hearing what they had to say. I'd go send an email myself but I'm not at home right now and don't have access to my canning recipes for exact details.
    For those in touch with it, Reality is the leading cause of stress.

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