I am new to canning, and admittedly didn't research enough before making...
I am new to canning, and admittedly didn't research enough before making about 50 jars of cucumber pickles using cucumbers from our first garden this year. now that i'm reading about possibly making zucchini relish, i've come across information about the importance of ph when doing water bath canning and i'm terrified that all the pickles i've made are not safe. how can i know if they are safe?
the recipe i used is as follows... for the brine: 3.5c vinegar 4.5c water 3T pickling spice (in cheesecloth for boiling and simmering the brine, then removed) 3/4c white sugar 1/2c pickling salt in the jars: cucumbers, 1 dill head (from our garden), 1 clove garlic cut in quarters the recipe called for a 5 minute water bath. i did 6-7 minutes.
my concern is that from what i have now found on other canning sites, a 10 minute water bath is recommended. also, the original recipe that i used called for 4c water and 4c vinegar, but our first batch was too strong with vinegar, so i cut it to 3.5c vinegar and 4.5c water. now i'm concerned i've made the brine less acidic and unsafe. after a lot of reading the past couple days, i know now that it is not ok to alter a water bath canning recipe :(
i'm also not even sure if it's safe that i did some jars as slices instead of spears.
if i open a jar and test the ph, will that tell me if they are safe? if not, what can i do, how can i know? thank you!
Warren County Ohio
I am glad you are getting started canning and working to educate yourself!
In terms of preparing the pickles, generally spears (typically used for dills) or coin cuts (typically used for bread and butter or sweet pickles) are fine. If whole cucumbers are used, it would be preferred to have a recipe with processing times specific to whole cucumbers.
I looked through several resources to see if I could find a similar recipe. Generally I'm finding recipes which have 100% vinegar, 1:1 vinegar to water, or 3 parts vinegar to 4 parts water. I did find a few with processing times of only 5 minutes, but all of those had 100% vinegar.
It is difficult to determine if the pickles would be safe without knowing the pH, and to do so you would actually need to have a blend of pickles and brine (so using a blender to puree). The pH needs to be 4.6 or lower to be safe for processing in a water bath canner.
How long ago did you process the pickles? Freezing, refrigerating, or reprocessing the pickles might be options, although they would not be as crisp.
I hope this helps. If you have any questions or clarification, you are welcome to e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org.