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default Preserving with Vinegar

Post by Guest on 26th August 2010, 6:07 pm

Pickles, chutneys and relishes use vinegar (and often sugar and salt) to preserve the fruit and vegetables.

It is important to consider the acidity of the vinegar that is being used. The balance between flavour and longevity is always the conundrum. Various liquids are used to make vinegar, each giving a different flavour but also the acidity varies.

Malt vinegar from malted barley (not available in France!) is 5% but is the preferred flavour for pickled onions.
Cider vinegar is usually 5% too but always check as it is often sold as salad vinegar and could be as low as 4%.
Wine vinegars are sometimes 6% but are again often 5% if they are intended for salad dressing.
Distilled vinegars are usually much higher at 8%. We can get 10% easily in the supermarkets in France.

4% is too low for preserving. Cider vinegar is a good flavour for a short term pickle but its acidity is very low and so I mix it with 1/3 of the 10% to guarantee a longer shelf life. Wine vinegars also may need boosting. To keep pickled onions for longer I enhance the malt vinegar with 8% distilled vinegar.
My minimum aim is for New Year. I have even managed to make bread and butter pickle last 10 months by boosting the vinegar acidity. It is a trail and error process and I experiment by making different batches, keeping the boosted vinegars for later in the year and consuming the lighter variations at Christmas.
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