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Pickle Went Wrong?

Discussion in 'Tanning' started by SloppyDoe, Jul 31, 2022.

  1. SloppyDoe

    SloppyDoe Member

    Hello, I had made a mistake in my pickling stage and wondering if anyone can give me some insight as to what went wrong. I mixed up a batch using saftee acid with the correct formula. I made about 6 gallons of pickle. I checked my pH and it was 1.5. I had a ram pelt go into the pickle that's been dried hard and salted. The ram went through perfectly and was later tanned with no issues. I did NOT dump the pickle, and I put a dried coyote and fox that were NOT salted, just dried and were relaxed with Ultra-soft previously as per instructions. They were rinsed before going into the pickle. I didn't check my pH levels. I believe that's where I went wrong, it must have not been at a safe level. Would this be correct? The skins started slipping bad so I threw them away. Is it because they were dried? Maybe I didn't rinse well enough? Or just my mistake of not checking the pH? This is probably super obvious but I have more dried and salted skins that I might mix together in a new pickle. I WILL check every single time for now on.
  2. 3bears

    3bears Well-Known Member

    always check pH multiple times for the first day or so after introducing anything into a pickle and adjust pH accordingly. Your ram skin likely absorbed a bunch of the salt and acid, like it should. You then introduced other skins into a weaker solution. What was the pH of them after rehydrating in Ultra Soft, which likely does little to nothing against bacteria. Do instructions say anything about salt? Salt helps keep bacteria at bay. Chock it up to a lesson learned and always keep an eye on pH level in your pickle.
    Keith and SloppyDoe like this.

  3. SloppyDoe

    SloppyDoe Member

    Thank you for your response, that makes a lot of sense! Luckily they were cheap pelts but yes, a valuable lesson learned. The only thing about salt in the instructions for the Ultra-soft is that it's compatible, as expected.
    3bears likes this.
  4. Frank E. Kotula

    Frank E. Kotula master, judge, instructor

    You have one reason that causes this, BACTERIA
    First off even though they were partially dried and then hydrated means nada! You can throw a green cape straight into a pickle but you won’t get proper swell to it. I basically just salt dry my deer but do an overnight night salt brine on my mammals after I skin them and they go right into the pickle with no issues.
    So knowing it’s bacteria, now was it there prior or not knowing your pH which now let’s bacteria grow could easily have been an issue to your slippage.
    Fresh capes should be tested an hour or two after they go in and then the next day. I will also check after I shave them. Once it’s stable then I generally have no issues with pH but I have a lid on my pickles. Placing a lid on them helps from acid dissipating in the air as most acids will do that if left uncovered.
    It’s good to have con hand a salinity meter next to your pH strips.
  5. Safety acid will not hold the pH. It will creep up.
    I have been using both safety acid and citric acid. each in different vats. I was having problems to include yeast mold growing on both vats. Even in just a few days the mold would grow.

    So back to formic! Zero pH fluctuation over the last 30 days and zero yeast growth!
  6. Denton Shearin

    Denton Shearin 2009-Breakthrough Award, McKenzie Award,

    For coyote and foxes, I'd consider using Krowtan.
    Also, if I know I'm going to be running multiple skins through a pickle, I'll mix a bigger batch. 15 to 20 gallons.
    Plus all the good advice above.
  7. SloppyDoe

    SloppyDoe Member

    Thanks for all the advice! I have pets and such so a safer acid might be the way to go for now. I might try formic soon however. For now on, I will check pH much more often.
  8. Frank E. Kotula

    Frank E. Kotula master, judge, instructor

    Keep your vats covered and you won’t have airborne mold growth or make sure you mix daily to stop this.
    That’s the only time I’ve ever seen mold grow on a pickle ( it’s harmless) isn’t not covering it or mixing plus I use citric a lot and my pH stays the same without issues only cause it’s covered. Uncovered pickles do have a tendency to lose its pH value. Some great information given by Bruce Rittle yrs ago.
  9. hoytarcher

    hoytarcher Member


    When you say a salt brine, are you referring to just soaking them in salt and water? Or covering in salt for one day then into the pickle?
  10. Frank E. Kotula

    Frank E. Kotula master, judge, instructor

    A salt brine is water saturated with salt. Covering in salt is just that but one day covered in salt still needs to be hydrated cause that salt pulls a lot of fluids out of the skin and it needs to be replaced.
    If you don’t hydrate and decide just to place it straight into a pickle it won’t hydrate the proper way.