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Canning: Spaghetti sauce canned but not processed

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We need expert canning advice. This summer, we made meatless spaghetti sauce. It cooked all day and went into the sterile Mason jars piping hot. They sealed within an hour, maybe under. But we did not put them in a water bath to process them. The jars look good, the vaccuum is still intact and we're thinking that it's OK to eat. What do the experts say? THANKS.

(Just in case it matters: the sauce contained tomatoes, green peppers, already canned tomato sauce and paste, lots of garlic, dry seasonings.)

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  1. That's risky business, EPJ. A friend of mine did the same thing, using jars heated in the oven, no water bathing. They "pinged," and she was thrilled with the short-cut. However, once the screw ring was removed, you could pop the lid with your fingernail. Not a good seal, but more importantly, the contents had definitely not been sterilized. Even the water bath treatment is not recommended these days for anything but maybe jams and jellies. Pressure canning is recommended for almost everything these days, tomato sauce included.

    Someone else may chime in here to explain if reheating the sauce and boiling before consuming will kill any lurking pathogens.

    1 Reply
    1. re: nemo

      I concur w nemo, it's too bad but it wouldn't be worth the risk to me. Boiling at this stage could kill all the bacteria present but not any possible Botulism spores....
      For next year....you can make speghetti sauce without pressure if you acidulate & hot bath the jars... I add 1/8 tsp kosher salt + 1 tsp distilled white vinegar to each pint jar, I make about 100 pints a season....
      check out Clemson University's web site for the complete skinny.
      Keep canning it is a wonderful thing!

    2. The garlic gives me pause. It can introduce clostridium botulinum to the party, and c.bot can reproduce anaerobically, so a good seal is no guarantee of safety. Best of all, it produces a heat-stable toxin that won't go away even with extended boiling.

      On the other hand, you did simmer the sauce all day, so it was sanitized if not sterile when it went into the jars. And the tomato is sufficiently acid that it tends to be a poor growth medium for bacteria.

      It's a tough call, but this is one where I'd err on the side of caution.

      1 Reply
      1. re: alanbarnes

        Thanks all for the replies. It's what we feared.

        Maybe it'll be one of those trophy displays ("Look at the wonderful spaghetti sauce I canned one year!") instead of a winter's meal. Jennifer