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Canning -- Pickled and Fermented Foods

A salsa recipe I have calls for 24 cups of tomatoes, 2 cups of vinegar, 1 cup peppers and 1 cup onion. Is this okay? Can I reduce the amount of vinegar?

Rating: 93

Vinegar is required to acidify the product (meaning to reduce its pH to less than 4.6). Safe recipes always have at least a 1:1 vinegar to water ratio. Less vinegar than this can result in an unsafe pickled product. More vinegar than this can be added but as acid increases, the tartness of the product increases. To determine if there is enough vinegar to acidify a specified amount of product, use the following as a guideline: * Salsa is a chopped mixture of vegetables so the vinegar should quickly acidify the vegetables. * Do not tightly pack the jars. This will create a condition in which it takes longer to acidify the product. * Always water bath acidified products after packing. Water bathing will kill E. coli. Remember that E. coli has been shown to survive in acid foods. Water bathing will easily destroy it. The acid will prevent the outgrowth of Clostridium botulinum. * Water can be added to the vinegar to reduce its tartness. However, the ratio should never be less than 1:1.

PREPARED BY: Angela M. Fraser, Ph.D., Associate Professor/Food Safety Specialist, NC State University in July 2004

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