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Canning problems...

Yesterday my boyfriend and I decided to try canning. We did some roma tomatos and basil, and then today I did some hot and bell peppers pickled in vinegar, oil, lemon and onions. Both times, initially, some of them didn't seal (I am using an improvised boiling canner). I was going to reprocess them, but once I turned the cans upside down, they became sealed. Do you canning experts out there think I should redo them, or is it safe now that they are sealed (and were sealed while still very hot)? I checked the seal today for the tomatos and they feel solid. I used recipes from the usda guide to canning.

http://www.uga.edu/nchfp/publications...
http://www.uga.edu/nchfp/publications...

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  1. not an expert and has been awhile since I have canned. But do remember having similar delays with seal and once they did seal-were just fine.

    1. Okay, so we tried to can some tomatoes and tomato sauce today for the first time as well. We boiled the tomato sauce once filled for approx. 35 mins and they seemed to seal properly (the middles of the lids seem secure).

      However, the tomatoes (whole, with lemon juice) are not sealing. I didn't boil them for as long and am wondering if that's the problem.

      Can I re-boil? Maybe, I will turn them upside down as you have.....help!?

      6 Replies
      1. re: leslievillian

        Ooh wish I could advise you, but I don't know for sure whether the upside down technique I did is safe. Maybe try boiling them again, and then turning them upside down when it is done, if they don't seal on their own. In the meantime, maybe someone else can advise on whether the product is safe if sealed by turning it upside down?

        1. re: leslievillian

          Yes, you can re-process.

          Don't forget the basic process when you're canning:
          sterilize the jars (boil the suckers)
          fill leaving the head space dictated in the recipe (normally 1/2 inch)
          wipe the rim of the jar
          set the lids on
          LOOSELY add the rings (do not tighten)
          process for recipe-dictated amount of time

          As for safely sealed by turning upside down I presume you mean that there was a "ping"?

          1. re: odkaty

            Sorry I was not clear. When I took the jars out of the boiling water, I saw that the lids were not sealed (they still moved up and down). I had heard something about turning the jars upside down as an alternative method of canning...so I tried that, in desperation really, as we were pretty tired after all the blanching, peeling, deseeding, etc. After a bit, I checked them, and the seal was tight, and today I unskrewed the rings and they are sealed tightly. Essentially the same thing happened with the hot peppers today, except this time I did hear a bit of a ping and they are also sealed now...

            1. re: Keramel

              The jars generally don't seal until after they come out of the boiling water, so nothing was wrong with them when you took them out. All you have to do is set them on a kitchen towel and let them cool (not touching each other) and they'll seal up.

              1. re: JasmineG

                Ahh!! Ok. THAT's the kind of info I needed! Thanks.

                Everyone has me so worried about botulism that I was a bit paranoid about it...

                1. re: Keramel

                  Yeah, I find it to be really fun to take them all out of the boiling water, and then stand in the kitchen and listen for the ping!

        2. When canning, what everyone is trying to achieve is a vacuum. A vacuum is best achieved with the expansion and contraction of air molecules. Here's an interesting video that displays that. Keep in mind that this is the exact science that occurs to draw down the lids you're using and gives you a proper tight seal atop your jars and bottles.

          Expansion and contraction --> http://www.viewdo.com/now_viewing.php...

          When we can fresh tomatoes, the contents must be very hot (boiling) and the lids are placed *immediately* atop the jars upon filling and sealed. This process works flawlessly, and a vacuum is created successfully every time. It's all in the timing and DO NOT fill to the top! Here, it's all about speed. You need the contents to be very hot and not allowed to cool at all.

          With contents that are cold, the best technique to employ is to fill the jars to the rim with as little air left in the jar as possible. Make sure the contents of the jar are completely submerged in whatever solution you're using. Introduce some heat to create a vacuum, but not enough to cook the contents. Also, listen for the popping sounds given off from the lids when they cool.

          8 Replies
          1. re: Cheese Boy

            Thanks Cheese Boy.
            I used cold-ish whole tomatoes with some lemon juice in sterilized jars and then boiled with the lids on for a short time. The lids did not "pop". It has now been about 18 hours am I okay to re-boil them in an attempt to get them to seal and pop or have I missed my chance??

            1. re: leslievillian

              As long as you boiled them for 20-30 minutes and left them in the "hot" water to cool over night, you should be fine. If you have any doubts and don't want to go through reboiling them, sacrifice a jar by opening it and see if it's properly sealed. (Place that opened jar in the fridge and use it within a week so it doesn't go to waste).

              Also, the lids pop only after they've cooled. Press the center of the lids to see if they have any give to them. If they do, there's no seal. You'll have to reboil them.

              1. re: Cheese Boy

                but it's safe to re-boil? I can leave them in their current jars/lids and reboil to try to seal again?

                1. re: leslievillian

                  I think you need to replace the lids before you re-process. It is safe to re-boil, but if the lids are failing for some reason, you want to eliminate that possibility. 40-45 is standard for quart size jars of tomatoes. Remember that you don't count the minutes until the whole canner comes to a roiling boil--so it's NOT 40 minutes from when you put the jars in the water. Even with hot packed foods it can take a good 10-15 minutes before the pot comes to a boil--obviously it will take longer if the product in the jars is cooler.

                  1. re: dct

                    Okay! Well I re-boiled for 30-35 mins and when cooled they were sealed! Thank you all for your advice!!

                    1. re: dct

                      I forgot the cilantro in my salsa I canned last night. Remembered this morning. Can I reopend all the sealed jars and dump them back into the stock pot, re-boil the salsa and then clean the jars and uses new lids and do the water bath again? Will they be safe to eat by re-processing completely?

                    2. re: leslievillian

                      Something tells me that as long as the contents weren't exposed to air it would be fine to reboil as they are. Try getting them back up to temp and keep them in there at a rolling boil for a solid 30 minutes. Let us know how it turns out. Your experiment will help us with our own unanswered questions.

                      Added ... Just saw your reply 2 minutes before mine. Great ! Success !

                  2. re: leslievillian

                    I boiled my jars of tomatoes with lemon juice for 40 minutes (which is what the recipe I was using called for). Also, they were very hot when put into hot, sterilized jars.

                2. First off I don't claim to be an expert so don't take my words as gospel. You can find another version of what the pros have to say here:
                  http://www.uga.edu/nchfp/how/can3_tom...
                  That being said, start with sealing jars in general. MAKE SURE there is NOTHING on the rim, the tiniest splatter can ruin a seal. Grease is evil, in fact it is probably the number one cause for seal failures. I was taught to always invert the jar for a few seconds to a minute when it comes out of the bath, it works for me. whole objects, such as tomatoes take longer to heat up and longer to cool down. this means give the whole tomatoes more time to process and allow more time for the seal to form. I have always given my jars at least a couple of hours before deciding the seals are failures. overnight is best. Finally I have always considered twenty-four hours a safe window to reprocess, although adding a couple of minutes to the time couldn't hurt. I just processed 200 jars of apple butter this afternoon for my brothers wedding favor. After an hour I had 16 "poppers", I just went and checked again and I have one. Hope this helped a little

                  1. There is a very active canning/preserving forum with friendly, knowledgeable people at Gardenweb - the Harvest forum. They will help bring folks up to date on the latest safest canning methods and there are lots of recipes - try Annie's salsa. NO INVERTING JARS!

                    http://forums.gardenweb.com/forums/ha...

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: leetmom7

                      Good warning leetmom7! Inverting jars is no longer considered safe. Ball has a good website on canning too.

                      I am especially careful with tomatoes when canning. I used to do like grandmom and boil the tomatoes and put into jars and top with the hot lids. Never had any failures, but I no longer do this. It is worth the extra effort to water bath the jars and be safe. Also a pressure canner is worth the investment. I got one for $60. Now I pressure can all my tomatoes.

                      The main reason I pressure can is because many tomato varieties have been breed to be less acidic than they were. And, you don't always know which tomotaes have less acid. Less acid means that water bath canning isn't always the best option, since the acid is what helps preserve the tomatoes safely. Adding lemon juice or vinegar to each jar brings the acid levels up. I just feel safer with pressure canning. In the end, it's no more time intensive or troublesome than water bath canning.

                      Re-processing is an option, but if just one jar fails to seal, go ahead and put in the fridge to use.