I recently canned pickles using 2 cups vinegar to 8 cups water ratio but I see that most canning recipes ask for 1:1 ratio of vinegar to water. My question is: Can I get botulism from using 2 cups vinegar to 8 cups water? (I boiled 10 min in water bath after).
While no one will tell you if you will get botulism or not, it's the acidity in pickles that makes them safe. According to Douglas Baldwin "Food pathogens can't grow below a pH of 4.0. 5% vinegar is 25% more acidic than this." He goes on to talk about the pasteurization step. You'll have to scroll a bit to read the section. We don't know your vinegar's starting acidity, and you diluted it significantly....So, you would have to calculate the total acidity of your brine, beginning with the acidity of your vinegar, to determine if you are within the correct safety parameters.
Out of sheer curiosity, I recently tested my pickle recipe with an digital PH meter and used buffer solution to calibrate the meter.
Bacteria can't grow below 4.6ph.
My recipe uses Apple Cider Vinegar with 5% acidity at 1 cup vinegar to 4 cups water or 2 cups / 8 cups. I also used tap water and boiled the brine for a long time (Note: Both tap water and boiling reduce the acidity of the mixture.)
After testing my brine and a puree of pickles and brine, the acidity of the mix across two batches measured an average of 3.80ph.
- Straight brine: 3.23ph
The range (PINT jars):
- Pickle juice: 3.70ph to 3.80ph
- Pickle juice and solid puree: 3.79ph to 3.83ph
It takes a whole lot of water to dilute the acidity. So this range falls well below and well within the range of "safety".
*** Please note that I am not a chemist and these numbers are only applicable to my recipe and my kitchen methods. However, what is clear is that 1 cup vinegar to 4 cups water is safe, according to my experiment.
A 1 cup to 1 cup ratio would result in an extremely sour pickle.