Test tape reads acidity in an instant — Looking through the Pickling Pal Mailbag I came across a note from now of our students who needed to know if her first pickling attempt was successful. She wanted something more than the “smell it and if it doesn’t smell like it shouldn’t” wisdom to share with her students. Here is the scoop on lacto-fermented or brine pickles.
A food with a pH of 4.6 or less is termed a high acid or acid food and will not permit the growth of bacterial spores. Foods with a pH above 4.6. are termed low acid and will not inhibit the growth of bacterial spores. By acidifying foods and achieving a final pH of less than 4.6, most foods are resistant to bacterial spoilage.
Actually, there is a scientific way that is readily available, if you ever worked with pH testers around swimming pools. Testing has become a satisfying conclusion to my pickling recipe. There are only a few indications for the home pickler to know if these microscopic minions have actually been successful.
- Brine slowly becomes cloudy over 4 days 1.
- pH (acidity) of the brine drops below 4.7
This tester works on a tear-off roll, good for hundreds of tests!
Once lactic acid bacteria—the probiotic makers of your brine pickles—are done with primary fermentation, usually about four days, they have created an acidic environment. It’s just the way they like it. No other bacteria can get established once they have colonized your Perfect Pickler recipe. You might also feel comfort that your digestive tract also likes the same acidic environment.
One of the easiest and certain ways to determine the acidity of your just-finished pickles is with a pH test . I use a simple type that you dip into the finished pickle brine for a few seconds and then you match the strip color to the standard colors on the test kit. Presto! You have your reading in seconds.