Psst... We're working on the next generation of Chowhound! View >
HOME > Chowhound > Home Cooking >
Oct 1, 2009 10:20 AM

Canning question: canned homemade chili, safe?

Hi! I've been using Chowhound for a while now, but have never felt the need to post. Until now.

Recently, I pressure canned a large batch of homemade chili (basic recipe: ground beef, tomatoes, peppers). I cooked it first as usual, then decided to process it rather than freeze it. I did not follow a traditional canning recipe, I just decided to can what I usually make. I pressure canned it at 15lbs for 45 minutes. I then let it sit on the shelf for about a week until I realized that it my methods may be unsafe. It's now in the fridge awaiting it's fate: belly or trash.

I realize that this is not a safe method of canning. Multiple extension offices have told me so. I should have followed a tried and true method, and I should have processed the jars for twice as long. However, it is a lot of food to throw out, and I'm curious if others might have some advice. Knowing they've been "half-processed" and on a shelf for a week:

1. Would you eat this food?
2. Would you open and reprocess them for 90 minutes and consider them "safer"?
3. Would you freeze it?
4. Would you throw it out?

Thanks! Again, I know I should have followed a recipe, so it doesn't help to reiterate that (the extension office really let me have it). I'm curious about what you would do. I hate to waste all this food. No liability. I know my risks :)


  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. Well, I have done a good bit of canning, but never with meat. Though from what I've read it's not just the processing, but the actual Ph of the food you've canned. It is possible to test the Ph with Ph paper, but you'd need to know what Ph is safe. Maybe the extension office could help with this (if you dare call again now that they've chewed you out!). I hear you about not wanting to waste the food, but of course the outcome of eating bad canned goods is pretty horrible. I'd play it safe and probably just throw it away.

    1 Reply
    1. re: Procrastibaker

      Thanks. That's the way I'm leaning. It's less than $50 in food supplies, so I guess I could just whip up a batch this weekend and freeze it this time.

    2. This was in the San DIego Union Tribune on 10/29/09
      Words to the wise: Canning is as much about safety as it is about preservation

      1. Before you chuck it, do a Google search for Chili canning recipes.

        Maybe you'll see one that is very very close to yours. A difference in spices won't matter... but if the main ingredients are the same then see how they say to process it.

        1. 1. No
          2. No--I don't know how long it takes for botulism spores to develop, but it is a really horrible thing to get--it's not like salmonella or listeria, where you are unhappy for awhile. Botulism can kill and cause paralysis and compromise your health for years.
          3. No
          4. Yes. The risk is not worth it to save $50. What scares me more than not using a tested recipe is that you only processed it for half the time needed to kill off bugs. I think you just need to let it go and chalk it up to experience.