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Food Safety: Storing Raw Garlic in Vinegar

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Hi, everyone! I'm new here and have been checking out the forums. Love what I have seen so far. I hope this question is not to basic. I did some googling, and not quite sure I have seen a safe answer to my specific question.

I want to make a recipe "So I Cheated Refrigerator Dills". It calls for removing dill pickles from store bought pickle jar, discarding the liquid then refilling the jar with onions, dill weed, ground cayenne pepper and raw garlic cloves. Then filling the jar with a boiling mixture of vinegar, water and pickling salt (I'm going to use kosher, I read on a site that they are equivalent). Then, the recipe says to let cool and store in the refrigerator. Which I plan on doing. Is this safe as far as the possibility of getting botulism from the raw garlic?

The jar of pickles I have is more like a half gallon, but it's still going to take a while to cool. Is this safe? Or, do I need to leave the garlic out?
Any advice would really be appreciated.

PS One additional question, is this a recipe I can play around with, like including other vegetables like different kinds of fresh peppers, onions, carrots and stuff? This is not really canning, but does that mean I'm safe to include garlic or to play around with other ingredients?

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  1. Assuming your mixture is below a pH of 4.0 (the exact figure I believe is higher), you can't get botulism. Even if it isn't, it's pretty rare.

    You're using vinegar, salt and water. Not much can grow, but still you want to make sure the pH is low enough to be absolutely safe. If you get an acidic tinge on the tongue, it's safe.

    1. preserving garlic using salt and vinegar you're cool, if you were using a nice olive oil you might be dead and then sweet dreams buttercup.

      the big question becomes what level of sour do you want and what the heck is the pickling time for these other items? it does vary.

      1. Garlic in oil is a botulism issue.

        Vinegar is fine.

        1. so you're basically pickling store-bought pickles?

          Head over here www.chowhound.chow.com/topics/805067 and start from scratch -- better pickles, and certainly no more effort than faffing around with storebought pickles.

          1. As others have said, you're fine.

            Botulism is dangerous in preserving because it thrives in low oxygen environments (removing oxygen kills a lot of other pathogens), and is not killed with normal boiling water. So if you can something, and there are botulism spores in the ingredients, they can multiple and then kill you later. Actually, what is poisonous is the toxin that the botulism spores produces in the right environment.

            It is, however, quite rare in most situations. High enough acid, salt and/or sugar levels will prevent it from multiplying. So will cold and oxygen. So to get botulism, you need a low acid, low salt, low sugar, low oxygen environment, preferably warm.

            So vinegar and salt based pickles are very safe. Jams are generally very safe too, due to the acidity in the fruit, and the high percentage of sugar. Recipes for pickles/jams to be stored at room temperature usually involve boiling the sealed jar in water, to kill off anything right at the start.

            The stuff that is potentially dangerous is things like canning meat or fish, oil based preservation, and canning vegetables. In those cases, to make something safe, you have to cook the sealed cans in a pressure canner, because you need a higher temperature than boiling water to kill off the botulism.

            As far as refrigerator pickles go - I do these all the time, and you pretty much use any vegetable you want. My usual approach is to wash/chop the vegetables, sprinkle with a bit of salt and let sit in a colander for about half an hour, put in a jar and pour hot vinegar over them, adding whatever seasonings I want. Let sit for a few days before eating, and they last for at least a month (I usually finish them by this point, they may last longer). Throw them out if the taste goes off, or if it starts to looks funny.

            Pickled onions are great - I use garlic and pickling spice. Pickled hot peppers are also good. I've also done pickled beets (just vinegar), a basic antipasto-like mix with carrots and onions and cauliflower with some herbs, dill-garlic green beans, and my mom does a recipe that uses julienned daikon and carrots. The last one smells nasty, but tastes great.

            As an aside - vinegar based refrigerator pickles are a great option for people on low sodium diets, as you can make them without the salt, and still get your tangy condiment.

            3 Replies
            1. re: tastesgoodwhatisit

              Thanks to everyone!! I am very grateful. I was afraid that this question was too basic. But, I was told long time ago that a novice canner, which, I most certainly am, shouldn't really experiment and just use standard recipes. I was just nervous cause the recipe I have doesn't speak to safety issues at all, so I felt little in the dark.

              And to make matters worse, I have recipes that call for putting raw garlic in oil. Lots of recipes. And, I was pretty sure that is not a good idea --- as the responses in this thread indicate.

              So, I just wanted to be sure I could trust the recipe I was going to use. And I really appreciate the replies.

              The only reason I'm not doing 'from scratch' right away. Small health issues that slightly limits mobility and such. But, I am really, really looking forward to working my way up to 'small batch' canning of many items.

              Another thing, I'm doing this week is marinating artichoke hearts in a homemade marinade. In fact that is one of the recipes that I have that calls for marinating garlic (with the other ingredients) in oil. I won't be doing that. I got that recipe from a blog but they said it was adapted from Saveur. So, I just really wanted to be sure what I was doing was safe.

              Thanks again!

              1. re: Tall_Mike

                I would say that short term oil marinades in the fridge are perfectly fine. I'll do think like artichoke hearts, with olive oil, seasonings and garlic without thinking twice - marinate overnight, and saving leftovers for a few days.

                1. re: tastesgoodwhatisit

                  The rule is 10-14 days in the fridge. After that you should toss.