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recipe-help Percentage of acid or acid by weight methods?

Hey Guys,

Been lurking since I joined, I have read and reread the the Hotsauce 101 thread, my woozies get here tomorrow along with my canning gear (gonna can other things besides hot sauce), PH tester is on order with solution ect, and I have searched on this topic, but maybe I am a shitty search so:

I make bread and do everything by weight and percentages. In the 101 thread it talks about the recipe links it provides as typically using 1 cup of vinegar to 10 cups of veggies. But not every cup of veggie is equal because of weight differences and size differences of chopped veggies. So I see recommended salt % is usually 2 or 3% by weight of total. Is there something like this to get you close when using white and apple cider vinegar? i.e. if I use 1000g of peppers, fruit and veggies, is there a % of these vinegars i should use to get me into the ballpark of near 4.0pH?

If yes, and it gets me to the ballpark and I test pH at the end of the boil, and i am too high...is it as simple as adding lime juice and/or more vinegar to the boil to bring it down?

I ask all of this because I have ideas of "what" I want my sauces to taste like (my first go around is gonna be a smoked jalapeno sauce with hints of sweetness and flavor from pineapples and mangos. But I am getting like...writers block? of figuring out where I am gonna start with the ratios. Like if there is a "use 30/40/50%" vinegar based on weight of veggies...., or is it 30/40/50% of the total weight of peppers/veggies/fruit vinegar to get in the ballpark, and 3% salt by total weight....then I know I the rest of the ratios when using 1000g of peppers,fruits, veggies

And if I am not clear is it


1000g stuff
400g of acid stuff (giving 40% of total weight of stuff)
42g of salt to give 3% of total weight in total)



570g stuff
400g of acid stuff (giving 40% of total weight in total)
30g salt (giving 3% of total weight in total)

Maybe its my engineer brain and I am overthinking it *shrug*


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The 3% salt is for fermenting. That is probably way too much salt for sauces.

There is some good information here. It is for pickling, but has info about veg weights and amounts. 5 pounds = 4 quarts

Good luck and have fun.
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@chilistang When it comes to hot sauce, pH is Boss. If you're making a refrigerator sauce it's still important, but if you want a shelf-stable product it's CRITICAL. Be sure you can measure pH accurately.

An acidic (vinegar, lemon juice, lime juice, ascorbic acid, etc) is used to reduce (lower) pH. Refrigerated products should be below 4.6. For shelf stable products, I use 3.5 as my target. Since most of these acidics affect taste/flavor of the sauce, I use AS LITTLE AS POSSIBLE. Fermented sauces shouldn't need any acidic added at processing (unless you make additions). When finished fermenting, they're usually 3.5 or lower.

The amount of salt used is dependent on type of sauce – fresh vs fermented. For ferments, it's a percentage of weight. For fresh, it's simply to taste.

Based on “...smoked jalapeno sauce with hints of sweetness and flavor from pineapples and mangos”, sounds like you are NOT fermenting, so like SL says, percentage of salt is N/A. Just salt to taste. The amount of acidic to use is driven by pH (and taste to some degree I guess). But, like I said, pH is Boss. Check your pH several times during processing, especially after additions, to ensure you're in the safe range prior to bottling.

And I agree, have fun with it!

P.S. I do everything by weight as well. It helps with repeatability as well as scale-ability. So, weigh and write down everything. It really helps as you move on to later versions of the sauce.
Thanks for the info Downriver and Salsalady, I am hoping my PH meter gets delivered on Monday.

I guess my ask was ... is there a ballpark % to get you in the neighborhood of around 4.0 by % of weight? And adjust as needed from there.
is there a ballpark % to get you in the neighborhood of around 4.0 by % of weight? And adjust as needed from there.

i am not an expert (probably barely even a novice) but the short answer, i think, is no. the reason being that the initial pH of the peppers/food items is going to vary somewhat, and then magnify that by the fact (unless i'm wrong) that pH is a logarithmic scale, meaning pH 4.0 is ten times more acidic than pH 5.0 and 100x moreso than pH 6.0. for that reason, the amount of points you need to lower by is going to greatly affect the amount of acid you need to add.

i might be totally wrong about this, as i am just pulling stuff out of my head that might not be correct...
It’s a bit of a non-sequiter, since you can’t measure acidity by weight… acidity is the ability of a liquid to lose its protons, and that ability is described by pH. A half cup or 20 grams of acid doesn’t mean anything.

So, what you’re asking for is possible, but generally involves using a bunch of online calculators to figure final pH based on the known pH your other ingredients.

An alternative: if you always use a standard strength of acid, like the standard 5% acetic acid vinegar dilution, you could do everything by volume or weight. That said, plenty of vinegars are sold at other strengths, and you’re likely to want to try fermentation at some point, so it’s probably better to get used to relying solely on measured pH. And if you get big enough to worry about regulations, it’s pretty much all about pH.
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Just write down the volume of the vinegar as well as the type used and the acidity for your future reference. If you ever need to adjust, you'll figure it out. For example I use a rice vinegar that is 4.2, and distilled is 5. But the flavors are very different so it's not just a mathematic formula. It's more about keeping the safe pH while getting the the flavor profile right. So don't worry too much over it. Tasting your recipe and measuring pH is key. And then there's consistency. Color. Heat. It's a balance.
Good luck! Buying woozies means you are serious. But don't let it ruin your fun.
I guess my ask was ... is there a ballpark % to get you in the neighborhood of around 4.0 by % of weight? And adjust as needed from there.

No, acidity is not measured/adjusted by weight.
Acetic acid powder is actually mostly starch, because it’s a liquid at room temperature. The powder is acetic acid absorbed by starch.

Citric acid is a crystal powder, but interestingly it’s technically only an acid after it’s dissolved in a liquid. Because acidity is only a property of liquids.

Chemistry is my weak point, so I don’t get the fine details, but I had to look up acidity in particular a while back and was surprised.
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And to add more confusion to the equation...remember to factor in the acidity of the mango and pineapple. Thereby reducing the amount of vinegar needed. Also note lime and lemon juices are more acidic than vinegar and vinegars have different acidities.....

Just go for it with a small batch, write everything down, put the batch in the reefer overnight....
Taste it the next day.
Adjust flavors or pH as needed.
Heat and bottle.

Remember.....Have Fun!!!
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