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pH vs concentration of vinegar

Posted: Thu Jan 12, 2017 4:43 pm
by JT101
Hi everyone

Age old question here I'm sure, but I've been searching for an answer with no luck

I've been making homemade cider vinegar and I want to pickle with it. Now I know what you're gonna say. Homemade vinegar has a variable acidity and so shouldn't be used. Use store bought 5% vinegar unless I test my vinegar with a titration kit to ensure it is at least 5%.

Well titration is a pain, and also isn't pH the most important factor here, especially after the food has been added.

So the question is, can I get away with a pH test only? I personally don't care what the concentration is, so long as it's acidic enough to pickle food.

Cheers

Re: pH vs concentration of vinegar

Posted: Fri Jan 13, 2017 8:45 am
by diggernotdreamer
I tested mine with a paper and it was 3, I tested my shop bought and the paper said it was 5 and so did the bottle. I did read that you can put the vinegar into the freezer and take of the ice thus reducing the water content, so does that mean that some of it doesn't freeze

Re: pH vs concentration of vinegar

Posted: Fri Jan 13, 2017 11:38 am
by Green Aura
If you're using homemade vinegar for pickling you should ensure that the pH is no higher than 4.0, which should protect against most harmful bacteria and the formation of mold.

Distilled white vinegar is apparently about 2.4, with a strength of 5% so to be safe you probably need to aim for something similar.

Something I've just discovered, which explains a lot of things to me, is that old recipes (you know the ones passed down through families) tend to be based on a 10% vinegar which is why, when used with 5%, you get softer, mushier pickles. That explains why my mother's picalilli (made from her old aunt's recipe) just wasn't right in later years. We put it down to her fading culinary skills but I'm now thinking it was just different strength of the vinegar.

Re: pH vs concentration of vinegar

Posted: Fri Jan 13, 2017 2:38 pm
by JT101
Interesting about your mothers recipe. I might look into that. What was the 10% strength vinegar? Must have been wine vinegar. Cider vinegar could never get that high.

ANyway, the point I'm trying to make is, you really only need to test pH right? I mean that is THE most important factor. meaning I can ignore the percentage concentration and just test for that.

Re: pH vs concentration of vinegar

Posted: Fri Jan 13, 2017 10:32 pm
by diggernotdreamer
I found this information The pH value of 4.6 is important because it is the limiting factor for the growth of an extremely dangerous microorganism called Clostridium botulinum, which produces a potent toxin that causes the lethal disease botulism. The regulations concerning acidified foods were established to assure the control and inhibition of the growth of Clostridium botulinum by proper acidification and pH control, as this microorganism is very heat resistant and therefore it is not destroyed by pasteurization or cooking temperatures below 212°F.

My apple cider vinegar with the mother tested 3, the Aspell cider vinegar tested 3 (5%), filtered home made vinegar without the mother tested 4, so I am presuming from this, that we can safely use our home made vinegar to pickle, otherwise, it's been nice knowing you all

Re: pH vs concentration of vinegar

Posted: Fri Jan 13, 2017 11:23 pm
by JT101
Haha. Just out of interest, what kit do you use? Litmus paper, or an acid indicator kit? If you could tell me the exact equipment I'd appreciate it. That Ritchies Wine & Beer acid test kit has some pretty poor reviews, and the cabbage indicator I'm not sure of the accuracy of.

Re: pH vs concentration of vinegar

Posted: Sat Jan 14, 2017 9:42 am
by diggernotdreamer
I used a bit of cheap chinese litmus paper, so it is probably really accurate

Re: pH vs concentration of vinegar

Posted: Sat Jan 14, 2017 10:01 am
by JT101
Laugh Out Loud

Re: pH vs concentration of vinegar

Posted: Sat Jan 14, 2017 11:48 am
by Green Aura
JT101 wrote:What was the 10% strength vinegar?


Dunno. Probably mass-produced malt vinegar before the manufacturers worked out how far they could water it down before killing people. :roll:

diggernotdreamer wrote:I used a bit of cheap chinese litmus paper, so it is probably really accurate

The acid test by which all others are measured, surely. :wink: