For those interested in pickles and other food preserving, I recommend 
getting a good modern book and reading it first.  The one our family 
uses is:
  Stocking Up III
The All New Edition of America's Classic Preserving Guide
by Carol Hupping and the staff of the Rodale Food Center    copy rite 1986
ISBN   0-87857-613-4

These books are updated from time to time with the intent to make food 
processing safer and the food better tasting and retain more of the 
The book I have often takes the time to tell the why of why one process 
should or should not be used.  Get the latest version you can.  As 
mentioned in  earlier post  botulism cells can't grow in environments 
with pH lower than 4.6.  Anything without these acid levels must be 
pressure canned.  Pressure canning allows for temperatures to be higher 
that 212 deg F. so that botulism spores can be killed.  Also these books 
have charts so that different foods are processed for different amounts 
of time and pressures depending on food density and can size so that 
essentially a piece of food in the center of the can gets hot enough at 
its center to be safe.  I have seen instances where home caned tomatoes 
(an acid fruit that doesn't necessarily need to be pressure canned ) 
that have been water-bath canned have gone bad.  This spoilage is 
usually obvious.  One just throws it away.  What is important is that 
food spoiled by botulism doesn't fizz or stink or taste bad and the 
toxins produced by it can kill you.  SO:  Get a good book with sound 
recipes and stick to it.  You can change up the spices, but don't muck 
with the proportions of vinegar and lemon juice as these are the sources 
of acid. Also don't take a _water bath_ canned tomato recipe and add a 
bunch of something like zucchini to it.  Tomatoes are an acid fruit and 
zucchini is not so half zucchini would cut the acid in half. You could 
however _pressure can_ as if it were straight zucchini to error on the 
safe side. Lemon juice or citric acid is often added to tomatoes in more 
modern books as some of the more modern tomato varieties are being bread 
for lower acid and are unsafe to water bath can without a little extra acid.

Now say your a brewer and accidentally made vinegar.  That's ok for 
flavoring fresh food but don't use it for canning because it's acid 
content may not be sufficient to work properly in preserving. Use store 
bought vinegar that is regulated to a specific strength.  Medieval 
recipes: cross reference with similar modern ones.  Make sure that the 
quantities of things that keep things safe are maintained . A pH meter 
might even be a good idea. If you ain't willing and haven't tested it on 
yourself first, don't test it on your friends!

For the brine cured (fermented) pickles the Euell Gibbons Dill crock 
given in the book  uses 3/4 measure salt and 10 measures water and 1/4 
cup  cider vinegar to a gallon.
Note the salt should be canning salt which does not contain iodide and 
is a specific grain size.  Sea salt may not contain iodide but is 
usually larger crystals and has a mixture of various salt types which 
may through a recipe off.  Use of tested recipes is important till you 
have a good understanding of what your doing and know how the process 
should go, taste and so forth.

It is my understanding that the salt prevents the growth of many 
organisms while providing a good environment for lactic acid producing 
bacteria to grow.  This in turn produces an acid environment that is 
unfavorable to botulism.  I don't know what effect the salt has if any, 
specifically on botulism.

So how about wine and beer.

Beer ? can some of you all  grainers refresh my memory on what wart 
wart  and mash pH is?
Mead (honey water mixes) can get has high as 4.2 or 4.3 but is usually 
lower and wine is usually 3.5 or lower. so no botulism there since pH is 
well below 4.6