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The color of home canned products

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I made some chutney two years ago and I have the last two jars left. i've kept them in a cool dark cubbard and the seal is still god. My problem is that the color has browned...is it still good to eat or should I toss it?

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  1. If the seal is good, the food is safe. Discoloration is common even when products are properly stored. Just be sure that upon opening there is that pop sound indicating the vacuum was breeched.

    1. Is it really worth risking it? Changes in color mean that SOMETHING has changed, intact seal or not. I once went to a hospital with food poisoning, and it was not fun. I remembered thinking that death might provide a welcome relief from the pain, but hey --this is your decision.

      It may just be a quality issue and not actual poison, but then, again I ask -- is it worth risking it?

      2 Replies
      1. re: RGC1982

        Discoloration is normal in home canned food. As long as the vacuum was maintained and the proper levels of cooking/acidity were established the food should be fine.

        1. re: rockfish42

          I completely agree with rockfish. My jams lose their fine color in about a year. Color changes can be due to the process- eg. my low sugar recipes don't preserve color as well as traditional recipes, but the food is still safe.

      2. If you followed good instructions, not those of your great great aunt, but of an authority on canning, and if the seal is intact (push on top.. does it move? toss it; is it firm, it's OK) then it is OK. The chances of botulism in chutney are less than any other because there is so much acid in it.
        If you look at commercial chutney you will find that it is almost always brown. Sometimes a vitamin C tablet added to the mix just as you take it off the stove can help the color on canned foods, but it doesn't work for everything.

        1. If iodized salt was used in the original canning (rather than kosher or canning salt which has no iodine), discoloration occurs. Perhaps that's the problem.

          1. The chutneys I make with soft fruits (like peach) always brown with time. I tend to think it has something to do with the spices (cloves, cinnamon) as well because I've made them with and without Fruit Fresh to try to preserve the color and both batches end up browning eventually. However, my pickled peaches retained that beautiful jewel gold color except for a tiny, tiny ring of brown around the whole cloves inserted in the flesh. I'm down to a couple of half pints of chutney and a quart of pickled peaches from 2006. Been eating the chutney all along and used the next to last quart of pickled peaches diced and threaded on veal kabobs two nights ago and have noticed no deterioration of either product.

            It's peach season here now and time to ramp up production again for another 2 year supply since we're about out. Peach chutney, pickled peaches, peach jam, peach butter, peach sauce, and frozen peaches...mmmmmm...

            4 Replies
            1. re: morwen

              Do you care to share some of your recipes?

              1. re: MIss G

                Sure, is there a specific one?

                1. re: morwen

                  I would love a tried and true recipe for peach chutney suitable for water bath canning.

                  1. re: Vetter

                    These recipes comes from Marilyn Kluger's "Preserving Summer's Bounty", a book I highly recommend for it's great recipes. I got it in '81 or '82 and people have raved about the preserves I've made from this book. It's available through Amazon but if you're interested in buying it make sure you get Marilyn Kluger's. Amazon offers another book with the same name by a different author and I've never looked at that one.

                    Peach Chutney

                    Scald, peel, and pit 8 lbs of table-ripe peaches. Chop in small pieces and combine in a preserving kettle with 1 cup chopped raisins, 1 cup chopped onions, 1 large clove minced garlic, 3 pounds brown sugar, 2 qt vinegar (I use cider vinegar), 4 tbl chili powder, 4 tbl mustard seed, 2 tbl salt, and 1 cup crystallized ginger, minced fine. Bring to a boil while stirring, then cook slowly for 2 hours or until the chutney is brown and thick. Pour into sterilized half-pint jars. Leave 1/2 inch head space. Adjust lids, and process in a boiling water bath for 10 minutes. Makes about 6 pints.

                    Pickled Peaches

                    Scald, refresh, drain and peel 6 lbs of peaches. Insert 2 whole cloves in each peach. In an enamel kettle combine 6 cups sugar, 2 cups cider vinegar, and 3 cinnamon sticks. Bring the liquid to a boil over moderate heat, stirring and washing down any sugar crystals clinging to the sides with a brush dipped in cold water, and add peaches. Simmer the peaches 5 minutes, or until they are just tender, and transfer them with a slotted spoon to 3 sterilized 1 qt jars, packing them tight. Put 1 cinnamon stick in each jar, pour hot syrup over the peaches leaving 1/2 inch head space. Adjust lids. Process in a boiling-water bath for 20 minutes.

                    I've modified the above recipe by soaking the peaches in Fruit Fresh prior to cooking them to preserve the color. The peaches have a tendency to float and will change color where they come in contact with the 1/2 inch head space. The Fruit Fresh will help limit that. Also, I use a cinnamon stick or two that will fit crossways in the shoulder of the jar to help hold them below the syrup. I also discovered that I can halve and pit the peaches and fit more into a jar rather than doing them whole. Just put 1 clove in each half. I usually do a batch of whole peaches and a batch of halved peaches so I have a choice depending on what I want to do with them later.

                    Peach Butter

                    Scald, peel and pit very ripe peaches. Cook until tender using only enough water to start the cooking. Pulp through a food mill or puree in a blender or processor.
                    To each cup of pulp add 1/2 cup of sugar. For each 4 cups of pulp add 1/2 to 1 tsp ground cinnamon (or one 4 inch stick). Cook slowly on top of the stove, stirring frequently, or bake uncovered in a 325F oven until thick, stirring 2 or 3 times an hour.
                    Pack the boiling hot butter into jars, leaving 1/4 inch head space, and adjust lids. Process in a boiling-water bath for 10 minutes.

                    I've also played with this recipe adding minced crystallized ginger, nutmeg instead of cinnamon, a touch of cloves, brown sugar instead of white, vanilla flavored white sugar, in various combinations in different batches. It's a forgiving recipe and always comes out good.

            2. I only jar tomatoes and jams, but I recall that next to the pectins was a packet of "anti-browning agent"....probably for certain fruits/veggies. It's probably some type of citric/ascorbic acid..

              I've found that the university/count extension offices are a great help! Just google or look in your phone book.

              I think it's safe to eat as long as the seal is intact.