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What if I didn't sterilize my canning jars?

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I canned 12 jars of peaches yesterday and 8 more of peach pie filling. It's my first time and I'm not sure why, but I didn't actually sterilize my jars. I washed them with soap and water, but then just put in the fruit and water/pie filling and proceeded to can them up.

They all sealed just fine and I boiled them all for at least 20 minutes (the raw peaches 30 minutes).

Did I just do a lot of work for nothing? Is there any way to salvage this?

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  1. what u did is fine and have no worries. I have canned for my entire life and rarely sterilized beforehand; most people i know simply run the jars and covers through the dishwasher first, but doing by hand is fine also.

    Enjoy your peaches.

    1 Reply
    1. re: dibob817

      You did sterilize them-- in 20-30 minutes of boiling!

      I was taught by a master food preserver that if you have the food in the canner at a boil for at least ten minutes, you can skip the pre-sterilization. Hence people should pre-sterilize if they're only going to boil small jars of jam for 5 minutes. I just do my jam 10 minutes and don't notice a decrease in quality.

    2. dibob817 and Vetter are correct. According to the National Center for Home Food Preservation at the University of Georgia it is "unnecessary to presterilize jars for fruits, tomatoes, and pickled or fermented foods that will be processed 10 minutes or longer in a boiling-water canner."

      http://www.uga.edu/nchfp/how/general/...

      So it's official. Enjoy your peaches.

      2 Replies
      1. re: alanbarnes

        THANK YOU! To all of you, but this one especially - it set my mind at ease. As a newly single mother, I am doing all that I can to prepare for what looks to be a tough winter.

        We will be eating our peaches long into the cold months and I will probably make some apple sauce next month b/c the same farm where we got the peaches has apples, too.

        1. re: kalisisrising

          Good snag, Alan. NCHFP is a goldmine of "just the facts" that everyone should click thru to see it's depth and diversity.

          When looking for food answers that involve possible pathogens or risks, always restrict your domain to "edu" in Google advanced search.

      2. Anything processed for 20 min does not require sterilizing.

        1. no worries - but a quick tip... if i'm just making one or 2 jars of something ill fill them 3/4 of the way up and microwave them until the water boils for a minute or two. i figure between the boiling and the MW any nasties will be done for