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Thread: Food preservation question re: canned pasta sauce failure

  1. #1
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    Question Food preservation question re: canned pasta sauce failure

    I canned pasta sauce for the first time last fall. I didn't have much in the way of tomatoes, so I just made 2 1-pint jars. The other day, I opened one and it smelled funny, so I tossed it out. The other one smelled off, too. The seals were fine (ie, they made the right noise when I opened the jars).

    When I canned them, I put boiling hot sauce in the jars and then boiled the jars in a bath of hot water. This was after I washed and sterilized the jars, of course. Is there something else I should have done? I've heard that tomatoes can be tricky because of the acidity. The applesauce that I did the next day has kept very well, and I've canned jam before with success. Any pointers for tomatoes?

    -Amanda

  2. #2
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    You need to make sure you have at least an inch of boiling water above the tops of the jars, and you should have space beneath them (I set mine on a round wire cake rack tossed into the bottom of my pot). The other thing I've noticed is that my tomato-basil sauce is the one thing that will turn right about 1 year from the time I can it (I noticed a white growth around the top on some that went past that once), and that has some lemon juice added to increase the acidity. Everything else seems to last longer.

    Did the color seem off? Did you notice any bubbles in the sauce? I'll check my books and see if I can think of anything else for you. It's possible the sauce needs a pressure cooker to can properly. I really enjoy canning, but I'm a bit put off by pressure cookers.

  3. #3
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    Talking

    I didn't submerge the jars totally in the hot water bath, just up to about 1/2 inch below the top of the jars, so maybe that's it. I also didn't leave any space beneath them. The color seemed fine (or at least, not any different from when I made the sauce), and there weren't any bubbles from what I could tell.

    I was canning based on one of my cookbooks, and they were not very detailed about how to can each type of food. It may be time to invest in a book that's just about canning. Any recommendations?

  4. #4
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    I did a search on aol, looking for "home canning", and came up with over 3000 hits. You might want to do some looking around for background info that way. Can't say I spent much time looking at individual sites though.

    I donít know what kind of canning you like to do, but Kerr and Ball (the folks who make the jars) both publish home canning guides that are paperback or magazine bound. They can probably be found at Walmart, Target and places that sell canning jars as well as used bookstores. Sunset magazine and Better Homes and Gardens also have home canning books, but I canít tell you if these would be a good general reference since mine are both older. The USDA changed its home canning guidelines, and I havenít been able to find a date, so I would say look for books published about 1990 or later for general information on canning. Once you have that, you can figure out how to adapt and process an older recipe.

    I have both the Kerr Kitchen Cookbook and the Ball Blue Book and can recommend them as general reference books. For more inspiring recipes, I have:

    Keeping the Harvest by Nancy Chioffi and Gretchen Mead: This one is another general guide, covering everything from canning, jams & Jellies, drying, freezing, and pickling to curing. Mine was published in 1991 and indicated it has been updated to meet new USDA guidelines. I would probably say this could be an alternate to the Kerr or Ball books, but you will notice I have all three.

    Gourmet Preserves by Judith Choate: The binding on this paperback is giving out. Recipes such as Red Onion Marmalade (just as good with yellow onions), Sichuan Pickles, Red Pepper Mustard, Beer Mustard, Basil Jelly, Champagne Jelly, Tapenade, Horseradish Jelly, Blueberry CatsupÖ.you get the idea.

    Pickles & Relishes, 150 Recipes Apples to Zucchini by Andrea Chesman: a good book for all kind of pickles, including crocked pickles and sauerkraut.

    Fancy Pantry by Helen Witty: Similar to Gourmet Preserves in that it goes beyond the basics, but it is a combination of canning recipes, breads and crackers, homemade pastas and other things.

    Preserving Today by Jeanne Lesem: This book is the source for the Pineapple Apricot Marmalade (made with canned pineapple and dried apricots, can be cooked in the microwave (I double and cook on the stove) and made anytime of year, and the Key Lime Marmalade I posted some time ago. It has some good basics as well as unusual recipes. However, you should note that it still refers to open kettle methods (no hot water bath), so you should have another updated basic book too.

    Have I lost you yet? These were probably all bought the summer DH and I made our first strawberry jam and wound up putting up over 200 jars of goodies (guess what everyone got for Christmas that year!) or the following year. Iím sure there are some newer books too, but the three basic ones will surely get you started and answer many questions. I know there are others here who also can, so donít be shy about asking again. Have fun!

  5. #5
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    This has absolutely nothing to do with canning per se, but just a bit of trivia...Ball Company (from Ball jars) is from the small town in IN where I grew up. I was born in Ball Hospital and attended Ball State University. Attended cultural events sponsored by Ball Foundation.

    Kim

  6. #6
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    Red face

    Oh, yes, if you didn't have your jars off of the bottom (mostly for breakage) and completely submerged by 1 inch of water at the boil that is where you went wrong.

    I have a GREAT book that I turn to when it's time to can, "Putting Food By" by Janet Greene, Ruth Hertzberg, and Beatrice Vaughan.

    I'm not a hard core canner, and if I have a question, I have to turn to the books. I also keep the Ball canning book up to date as well.

    It used to be that tomatoes were always a water bath canning item, but these days you just don't know when you have a low acid variety. It is best when canning tomatoes with a water bath to be sure that you add 1 Tbsp of lemon juice per jar. In fact, I believe that the recommend using JARRED lemon juice for canning. That is because you do not know how much acid is present in a fresh lemon since it changes with the season.

    Canning is a science, and its best to not do it until you at least have invested in the Ball book. There are so many places to go wrong and it is your health that you are dealing with!!

    Also, when you "toss" your canned goods you are supposed to do it in a certain way as to not contaminate any animals or water supplies. It's a big deal and you should pick up a book! I love the "Putting Food By" one because they explain things in a simple way, but let you know the dangers as well as the "WHY" behind it all.

    You can also check out your local Extention office, they may have canning classes or people on staff to help you!!

    Tami

  7. #7
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    Oops -- posted twice. Sorry.

    [This message has been edited by junietoo (edited 04-05-2001).]

  8. #8
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    Here's another vote for "Putting Food By" and I also like any of the Farm Journal cookbooks.

    I've been canning -- both cold/hot pack and pressure canner -- for a lot of years. I've used deep water baths and steamers, depending on the product canned, with no mass failures (just a few defective lids here and there that didn't keep their seals.)

    For hot packed tomatoes, make sure your jars are hot and your lids (always new, never re-used) have had boiling water poured over them. Use boiling hot tomatoes. Leave about 1/2 inch headroom in your jars, wipe off the rims with a clean, lint-free cloth and use tongs to place the lids. Hand tighten the ring and then back it off (loosen) 1/8-1/4 turn.

    The old-fashioned, blue-speckled cold pack canners have racks to raise and lower the jars and keep them away from the direct heat. It's a good investment if you're going to be doing some canning (it's great for a big tub of soup stock, too.)

    The water should be over the tops of the jars. Start the processing time when the water returns to a boil.

    Once the processing time is up (adjust for altitude if necessary), put the jars on a towel covered counter out of the draft. You'll get that satisfying tell-tale "thwup" as the lid seals. Those that don't must be refrigerated and used within a week or so. Some people reprocess unsealed tomatoes -- I don't.

    Store in a cool, dark place without the rings (or loosen them so there is no pressure on the lid) and don't stack (it tends to put uneven pressure on the lids and may cause a seal failure.)

    I think that's about it -- someone jump in if I've forgotten anything.

    Good luck, mandarin2j, there's nothing more satisfying than a store room full of home canned jars. Sunny peaches shining in the midst of a January snowstorm are worth all the effort.

    Barbara

  9. #9
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    Tami, yes that is a good book also. I looked at it but didn't buy it because of the others I already had, and after 2 kids arrived, we slowed down on the canning we do, A LOT.

    Amanda, I couldn't find a web site for Kerr, but Ball has one (the home canning products were spun off to a seperate co called Alltrista Corporation) at www.homecanning.com. You can by the Ball Blue Book there for 4.95. There is also basic canning information on line, recipes, and all kinds of equipment and accesories you can buy. The jar lifter is the most important one for me, follwed by a wide mouth funnel.

    Kim, guess when it comes to having a Ball, you come by it naturally. They have a plant or ditribution center in Conroe also. Make you feel right at home?

  10. #10
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    Wow, thanks ladies! I'll check out the "Putting Food By" book and one of the company books for starters and move on from there.


    -Amanda

  11. #11
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    Originally posted by kwormann:
    This has absolutely nothing to do with canning per se, but just a bit of trivia...Ball Company (from Ball jars) is from the small town in IN where I grew up. I was born in Ball Hospital and attended Ball State University. Attended cultural events sponsored by Ball Foundation.

    Kim

    Kim, I have to relate this story after seeing your post.

    My senior year of college was spent at a university in Southeastern France. Before classes began in October, a group of us international students enrolled an intensive language course and often went out for a drink with our instructor after class to practice our blossoming French conversational abilities. One of my fellow students was from Muncie and attended Ball State.

    One evening, this student, "Sally", went on at length and in a very loud voice to descibe Muncie and what the town was most known for- Ball jars.

    The word she used to describe the company and the function of Ball Jars was preservatif, which of course makes us Anglophones think "preserves" , as in jams, jellies, canning.

    Hilariously though, in French preservatif means "condom". So bless her heart, Sally loudly and proudly informed us and all the bar partons present that her city in America was famous for condom manufacturing, and that her favorite preservatif was strawberry.

    Just wanted to forewarn you, in case a trip to France is in your future , that you might get some strange looks when you tell people from whence you hail
    The French can't smirk too much, especially those who come from the city of Condom......

    Thanks for indulging me in this trip down memory lane. Excuse me while I go eat a madeleine (any Proust fans out there?)


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