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Jul 13, 2008 12:18 PM

Home Canned Food and Air Bubbles...

Earlier today I made a large batch of hot sauce, and since I had a few spare Ball jars and a lot more sauce than I could possibly use in the short term, I decided to can some of it. I followed all of the instructions in the Ball "Blue Book" and thought I did a pretty good job of ridding the sauce of air bubbles before processing, but as soon as I removed the jars from the boiling water I noticed a bunch of fairly large bubbles around the sides of each jar (the sauce is extremely thick--almost like ketchup--so the bubbles won't just rise to the surface and pop).

I've searched the Web and every canning site says to carefully remove all of the air bubbles, but none of them say WHY this should be done. Do bubbles pose some sort of danger for long term storage? Or can they cause problems during processing? I certainly had no apparent issues and the jars appear to be sealed. Or is the air bubble removal just a beautification thing? I'm thinking that everything in those jars -- including that air -- was boiled and should be relatively sterile at this point, but I thought I should ask here before putting them away and potentially creating some kind of time bomb...

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  1. The reason that I know for getting rid of bubbles is because any air will help the little buggers to grow. That being said, you're always told to leave "head space" in your jars before lidding and processing them. So after they're processed there's a layer of 1/4" to 1/2" of air in there. Always seemed odd to me. I've made ketchup and chutneys and worked with a chopstick to get all the air out and have had the same experience you did, with random bubbles afterwards. Not lots of bubbles but saw some. But all my lids passed the sealed test, heard them pop and they were concave and didn't move when I pressed on them so the vacuum was created. I stored them and used them later with no problem.

    1. I'll be interested to see the other replies you get as this just happened to me today making cherry jelly, totally forgot after sealing the first jar to use my chop stick and get rid of the bubbles in the other 5 jars...I am going to do the seal tests tomorrow and see but right now they all look good, except for the little bubbles...I think one thing I read said if the bubbles are moving that's bad news because it means stuff is growing:( but if the bubbles are not moving you are ok....Guess I will keep this batch for myself just in case....what are the sigs of botulisim...

      1. I think that they want you to get rid of air bubbles, because, the canning process forces the air out of the jars (with the hot water bath) and it would be more effective if there wasn't so much air to begin with. When the top 'pops' it means that a vacuum has been created. So, first question, did the process create a vacuum in your jars? If not, then they are not properly sealed. I have had those bubbles from time to time, as well, and they do go away with sitting. But most important, did you process correctly, is the mixture acidic enough and did the jars 'pop'. Botulism is easily spotted by an outward bulging of sealed jars. Also, when you open the sealed jar, if it whooshes air out, then it was not properly sealed. It should suck air in, hence the vacuum inside the jar.

        1. I found air bubbles in a rhubarb jam we made. Sad to say the unopened sealed jar had begun to mold about a week after canning.

          Gave canning another shot this time with pickled radish. In with the radish went onion, garlic, celery, fennel, and peppers. I did not know about the needed 5% acidity for the vinegar, and went with a recipe that called for water to be added to the vinegar. After the canning process I noticed that I had watered down vinegar that had a 5% acidity.

          The jars have now sealed properly (concave). But when I tip the jar, and let the liquid run through the veggies, I get a few air bubbles that float to the top. The bubbles don't grow like the do in sparkling water or champagne, but act a bit like soap (rise to the top, then after a bit they pop).

          Do I need to worry about these bubbles?

          This is my second attempt at canning and would like to make food not poison. So, any tips you can toss my way would be very helpful.

          Do I need to worry about these bubbles?

          1. Your canned items should not have bubbles in them. The bubbles are, of course, pockets of air trapped in the mixture. The best way I know of to eliminate this is to make sure they're vacuum packed (special jars and lids - I use BALL) using a boiling water bath, checking the temperature over the proper length of time, then sealing so that cooling creates a vacuum chamber. I prepare a fair amount of rhubarb but I don't can it so I can't speak specifically to that canning process. I do believe, however, that it would be included among the high acid group of foods.
            Your Ball jar supplier should have things like bubble removers and head space measuring tools. Some foods (low acid varieties) require a specific length of time at 240 degrees (or more) and a pressure cooker is the only way to achieve those temperatures in the canning process.

            1 Reply
            1. re: todao

              As far as pickling stuff little tiny air bubbles is normal its the vinigar and a special bateria that perserves the for example pickle or whatever is in there, The reaction between the bateria it sits on the pickle and and when any bad bateria attacks the pickle, the bubble you are seeing is the the good bateria working it squarts picker joice at the bateria which is vary acidic and kills the bad bacteria. The good bateria forms a wall around the picled items the litttle tiny bubbles you see is the bateria breathing in the remaining air bubbles after the air bubbles stop the bateria is dies and the item is consided pickled. Some bateria is our friends you know so we should not dismiss their help when we can. That bateria you get from water that is why you add water to vinger to incourage good bateria to grow.

              However, you can not remove all air bubbles from stuff that is canned with something that is water based or with perservitives that have oxygen in them, or some form of carbon.

              Reason why water to exist in liquid form has two ogygen atoms attached to one hydregen atom forming the liquid gas H20