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Canning experts please - I need some advice

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Canning experts please - I need some advice

Post  FeedMeSeeMore on 7/2/2016, 8:18 pm

I just water bath canned dill pickle spears in pint jars using a Ball pickle mix. This is only my 2nd attempt, the last being 2 years ago.
It was a success as we've eaten them all and are still here to tell about it Smile
It's nearly like I am starting for the first time again. I have to admit I was pretty anxious about it.
To the very best of my ability I followed the instructions exactly. I did remove any air bubbles before sealing and processing.
I don't recall if I experienced the questions below last time.

Questions:
1.There were a lot of air bubbles escaping from some of the jars as they processed. Why? Is it normal?

2. After moving the jars to their resting place to cool, I noticed some air bubbles moving to the top. Should I be concerned?
The jars sealed quickly as I heard the pinging only minutes after setting them aside.

3. A few of the spears floated to the top of a couple of the jars and so the very tops are not immersed entirely in liquid. Is that okay?

I looked all over the net for answers and most troubleshooting info seems pretty vague to me. Thanks
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Re: Canning experts please - I need some advice

Post  AtlantaMarie on 7/3/2016, 8:45 am

@FeedMeSeeMore wrote:I just water bath canned dill pickle spears in pint jars using a Ball pickle mix. This is only my 2nd attempt, the last being 2 years ago.
It was a success as we've eaten them all and are still here to tell about it Smile
It's nearly like I am starting for the first time again. I have to admit I was pretty anxious about it.
To the very best of my ability I followed the instructions exactly. I did remove any air bubbles before sealing and processing.
I don't recall if I experienced the questions below last time.

Questions:
1.There were a lot of air bubbles escaping from some of the jars as they processed. Why? Is it normal?

2. After moving the jars to their resting place to cool, I noticed some air bubbles moving to the top. Should I be concerned?
The jars sealed quickly as I heard the pinging only minutes after setting them aside.

3. A few of the spears floated to the top of a couple of the jars and so the very tops are not immersed entirely in liquid. Is that okay?

I looked all over the net for answers and most troubleshooting info seems pretty vague to me. Thanks


Everything's fine. Yes, that is all normal.

Even though you've gotten all of the big air bubbles out of the jar, there's still O2 in the water. The boiling forces more of that air out.

Dontcha just love that "ping?" :-)
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Re: Canning experts please - I need some advice

Post  FeedMeSeeMore on 7/3/2016, 10:24 am

Thank you! My mind is at ease now Smile
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Re: Canning experts please - I need some advice

Post  AtlantaMarie on 7/4/2016, 7:03 am

:-) Glad to help!!
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Re: Canning experts please - I need some advice

Post  trolleydriver on 12/21/2016, 4:04 pm

I've still got some jars of chutney and salsa from the canning that I did in the Fall of 2015. Assuming I followed the correct canning instructions, are they still within their shelf life?

I also noticed that some of the cucumbers that I canned this Fall are poking into the head space above the liquid in the jars. Is that OK? I think this was answered in the second post in this thread but just want to confirm.

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Re: Canning experts please - I need some advice

Post  AtlantaMarie on 12/21/2016, 4:08 pm

They should be fine. I'd shake the cukes to ensure they're wet...

As far as expiration dates, I use stuff I've canned from 8 years ago with no problems. As long as they're sealed properly and the jars are kept dark & cool, the shelf life is pretty good.
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Re: Canning experts please - I need some advice

Post  trolleydriver on 12/21/2016, 4:27 pm

Thanks AM. Smile

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Re: Canning experts please - I need some advice

Post  Kelejan on 12/23/2016, 4:13 pm

Another thought, FeedMe.  As the liquid cools the air bubbles will get smaller.  I feel that might be a plus?
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Re: Canning experts please - I need some advice

Post  CapeCoddess on 12/26/2016, 2:07 pm

Sad  This jar of beans has been bombed by the dreaded creeping crud.

Unfortunately I opened it just to make sure and it stinks to high heaven!  My understanding is that I am to seal them, jar and all, in a baggie and throw it in the garbage. I'm asking all you experts to please advise if this is correct. I would rather compost if possible. Also can I cap it with a screw on and keep the Tattler lid and it's rubber ring?
CC
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Re: Canning experts please - I need some advice

Post  AtlantaMarie on 12/26/2016, 4:52 pm

Sorry, CC. I wouldn't take the chance. You've already taken a big gamble by opening it & smelling it. Botulism spores could get into your system that way...

Seal it in a couple of good bags & toss the whole thing! Tattler & all...

If you start having blurry vision, dizzy spells, breathing issues, IMMEDIATELY go to the ER. Let them know about that jar & that you opened & smelled it.
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Re: Canning experts please - I need some advice

Post  plantoid on 12/26/2016, 5:26 pm

Un sterile contents in pressure caning jars like that usually means the contents are dangerously toxic ..

So as has been said , Yes the double bagging without opening and safe disposal are paramount in keeping safe .
 Even bleach is not the answer to cleaning up spills nor unfortunately is boiling water at normal temperature of 100 oC / 212 oF

May I also suggest that you also wear a pair of new marigolds and also dispose of them double bagged for your safety just in case the contents have leaked out down the side of the jar .

 I have a related question for you .......  When you get moulds like that growing in a pressure canned or hot water bath preserved jar the lids will often lift off  due to  gas generated by the moulds.

 That begs the question ....  Did you undo the lid retaining device ( in your case the steel screw down ring )  about 24 hrs after it cooled down & tried to lift the jar by the unsecured lid ..if the vacuum was good it would normally allow you to lift the jar , if it has failed the lid comes off.

 Doing that will tell you also that if it lifted with the ring of then you didn't bring the pressure canning session up to temperature  or perhaps it was not done according to the length of time recommended in the canning charts.


 Who's canning charts did you use & what canner & method are you using ?
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Re: Canning experts please - I need some advice

Post  BeetlesPerSqFt on 12/26/2016, 5:39 pm

Throw it out jar, ring and all! If that jar turned bad before you opened it (-- as opposed to in the fridge after opening) that probably means some part of your process was marginal (not enough time under heat, not acidic enough?) Were these pressure-canned, or pickled?

Microbes tolerant of extreme conditions may survive composting. I don't think you want increased numbers of that microorganism anywhere near your garden. You can't tell whether there's any botulism in the jar. It doesn't necessarily have a particular look or smell, but since something that does look and smell wrong survived, the botulism organism could have survived, too. The CDC says inhalation botulism does not occur naturally (https://emergency.cdc.gov/agent/botulism/hcpfacts.asp) -- but there are other nastys that mean you should still seek treatment for if you experience symptoms.
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Re: Canning experts please - I need some advice

Post  Scorpio Rising on 12/26/2016, 5:56 pm

@BeetlesPerSqFt wrote:Throw it out jar, ring and all! If that jar turned bad before you opened it (-- as opposed to in the fridge after opening) that probably means some part of your process was marginal (not enough time under heat, not acidic enough?) Were these pressure-canned, or pickled?

Microbes tolerant of extreme conditions may survive composting. I don't think you want increased numbers of that microorganism anywhere near your garden. You can't tell whether there's any botulism in the jar. It doesn't necessarily have a particular look or smell, but since something that does look and smell wrong survived, the botulism organism could have survived, too. The CDC says inhalation botulism does not occur naturally (https://emergency.cdc.gov/agent/botulism/hcpfacts.asp) -- but there are other nastys that mean you should still seek treatment for if you experience symptoms.
Yes.  Pitch it all, do not compost.  Commercial recycle is OK. Botulinum toxin is extremely Hardy, and a spore as well.
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Re: Canning experts please - I need some advice

Post  trolleydriver on 12/26/2016, 6:45 pm

After reading the recent entries in this thread I think I will no longer be canning anything.  Shocked What a Face affraid

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Re: Canning experts please - I need some advice

Post  CitizenKate on 12/26/2016, 7:05 pm

I plan to continue, but this is a good heads up to be very diligent to follow all procedures and recommendations when home canning, never take shortcuts, and never modify a tested canning recipe.
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Re: Canning experts please - I need some advice

Post  AtlantaMarie on 12/26/2016, 9:34 pm

Canning is fine, TD. But like Kate says, you've got to follow safety procedures.

And "when in doubt, throw it out" is a good maxim to remember... :-) Especially when we're talking about pressure canned items like CC's beans.

I've got stuff I canned 8 years ago that I wouldn't hesitate to eat - once I check to make sure it's still sealed properly and I don't see any nasty stuff through the jar.

A great resource is the National Center for Home Food Preservation. www.nchfp.uga.edu They're based at the Univ of GA. Dr. Andress does all the USDA canning recommendations & books.
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Re: Canning experts please - I need some advice

Post  trolleydriver on 12/26/2016, 10:07 pm

You are right AM ... canning is fine. Thousands of people have been doing over a long period of time with very few incidents.

So far I have followed the USDA Canning recommendations and Bernardin Home Preserving guide. I did use a recipe for some chutney that was not in those documents. I may just throw out those specific jars.

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Re: Canning experts please - I need some advice

Post  AtlantaMarie on 12/27/2016, 8:24 am

No, no. Don't do that, TD! Just make sure that the seal is good, it's not rounded up (which would show "undesirable growth"), and there's nothing you can see but pure chutney goodness. If that's the case, it should be fine.

I actually can my own "untested" recipes quite often. BUT I make sure that I check other recipes in books by Ball, USDA/NCHFP, etc. to see what components call for the longest pressure/time. I base my time &/or pressure on that. (If I could bold this I would. That's the big piece of advice for the morning.) And if I have any question on wb vs pc, I go w/ pc. Everything can be pc'd. Not everything can be wb'd.

Like I said earlier, Dr. Andress at NCHFP does the UDSA books. Unfortunately, UGA has cut her budget to bare bones. AND she's teaching & counseling & speaking at other places. She pretty much a one-woman department at this point. And she just doesn't have time to do the testing she used to. (I'm in contact with some folks that work pretty closely with her.)

Here's something else - if you look on... fb for instance... you'll see lots of pages on canning. Some of them are strictly "by the book, no deviations, USDA guidelines is how you do it." (They can be pretty brutal & judgmental to others who are just asking questions - maybe about how grandma did something.) Then there are the "rebel" groups who will try anything because grandma/great-grandma/my best friend did it and nothing bad ever happened to anyone in the family.

I get both sides of the argument. Canning procedures have changed drastically over the past 30 years. And that's happened because our knowledge of what actually happens during the canning process has increased. Our knowledge about germs has increased. But if Dr. Andress is the only one doing testing for USDA and she's got SO MANY things going on, how can we make any further headway on what's "safe" and what's not? We don't live in a stagnant bubble...

And, truth be told, the incidence of botulism is quite rare.

You've got to use your best judgement. Just like anything else.

So will I use paraffin to seal my wb'd jars? No. I've heard too many stories about mold growing underneath the wax. And it was common practice to just scoop that mold out & eat the items anyway. Do I have friends who still seal their jars this way? Yes. "Grandma did it this way." And when I receive something from them, I smile & say thank you. And when I get home, I'll either toss it (if I'm not sure how long it's been sitting on their shelf) or, if I know it's fresh, re-can it properly if I'm not going to be eating it right away.

Will I "oven can" my jars? (That's another "old" practice.) No. I'm just not comfortable with that. My PERSONAL thoughts are that the temp won't get up high enough in the jar middles to kill any lurking germs. But I know someone I like & respect on this forum who does. He's done it for years. And he hasn't had any problems apparently. I'm not going to judge him for his practice. It's what works for him...

Will I wb veggies/beans/meats for several hours instead of pc'ing them? No. I'm just not willing to take that chance. (USDA guidelines WERE written for a reason after all...) But I know of people who do.

(The USDA's books are just that - guidelines. They are not the do-all, end-all, be-all.)

Will I purchase/use a "steam canner"? Nope. Another old method that I'm just not comfortable with. And I know they're in production again...

And, again, will I take my recipe or my grandma's recipe & can it? You betcha! AFTER I check other "tested" recipes to ensure I'm doing it in the safest manner possible.



Okay, vent over... Go forth & can! AFTER you make sure you're being safe! :-)

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Re: Canning experts please - I need some advice

Post  camprn on 12/27/2016, 9:00 am

@CapeCoddess wrote:Sad  This jar of beans has been bombed by the dreaded creeping crud.

Unfortunately I opened it just to make sure and it stinks to high heaven!  My understanding is that I am to seal them, jar and all, in a baggie and throw it in the garbage. I'm asking all you experts to please advise if this is correct. I would rather compost if possible. Also can I cap it with a screw on and keep the Tattler lid and it's rubber ring?
CC
Just compost the contents & wash the jar.
I don't trust Tattler lids and won't use them.

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Re: Canning experts please - I need some advice

Post  CapeCoddess on 12/27/2016, 11:47 am

Too late, Camp.  I just bagged it up and tossed it this morning. Sad  Seeing your response made me feel like you and I have been thru this before. Wish my memory was what it used to be.... Wink

Plantoid, yes, I do check the seal after the metal screw is removed, while washing the jars in prep for storage.  I must have missed this one.  

I use a Fagor pressure canner:
https://www.amazon.com/Fagor-10-Quart-Pressure-Cooker-Canner/dp/B0000CFH7X
and the book I go by for beans is 'Canning and Preserving for Dummies'.
The only downfall with this canner is that you only have 2 psi choices - 8 and 15.  So when recipes call for 10, I have to use 15.  My beans come out a bit mushy sometimes unless I shorten the precook to just boiling.  I've often wondered if a higher pressure heats the center faster or not, in which case I could shorten the canning time?  
Does anyone know?

Fabulous and informative vent, Marie!  Thanks for that.
@AtlantaMarie wrote:
I actually can my own "untested" recipes quite often.  BUT I make sure that I check other recipes in books by Ball, USDA/NCHFP, etc. to see what components call for the longest pressure/time.  I base my time &/or pressure on that.


That's exactly what I do!  
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Re: Canning experts please - I need some advice

Post  AtlantaMarie on 12/27/2016, 1:55 pm

You're welcome. And, no, unfortunately, I don't recommend shortening the cooking time... But, yes, you can precook to just boiling. Or maybe try just soaking overnight. They're gonna cook anyway... And since your pressure is above what the book says....

I also think you did the right thing by tossing the jar too. I know glass is pretty impermeable, but you don't want to take a chance on having that stuff in the open...

If you're interested in downloading the USDA guidelines, it's free. You can access thru NCHFP or just do a google search.
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Re: Canning experts please - I need some advice

Post  CapeCoddess on 12/27/2016, 2:32 pm

@AtlantaMarie wrote:

If you're interested in downloading the USDA guidelines, it's free.  

Yes, I already have it book marked on all my computers...and refer to it occasionally, especially if what I'm looking for is not in the 'Dummies' book.

I emailed Fagor just a bit ago asking them if higher pressure shortens the cooking time.  I tend to agree with you that it won't but let's see what they say.  

About the mushy beans, I've seen recipes online where they do a raw canning with the beans.  Put the dry beans in about 1/4 of the way up and then add boiling water.  I think I'll send another email to Fagor and ask them about that.
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Re: Canning experts please - I need some advice

Post  CitizenKate on 12/27/2016, 3:56 pm

@AtlantaMarie wrote:
I actually can my own "untested" recipes quite often.  BUT I make sure that I check other recipes in books by Ball, USDA/NCHFP, etc. to see what components call for the longest pressure/time.  I base my time &/or pressure on that. (If I could bold this I would.  That's the big piece of advice for the morning.)  And if I have any question on wb vs pc, I go w/ pc.  Everything can be pc'd.  Not everything can be wb'd.

...

Here's something else - if you look on... fb for instance... you'll see lots of pages on canning.  Some of them are strictly "by the book, no deviations, USDA guidelines is how you do it."  (They can be pretty brutal & judgmental to others who are just asking questions - maybe about how grandma did something.)  Then there are the "rebel" groups who will try anything because grandma/great-grandma/my best friend did it and nothing bad ever happened to anyone in the family.

I get both sides of the argument.  Canning procedures have changed drastically over the past 30 years.  And that's happened because our knowledge of what actually happens during the canning process has increased.  Our knowledge about germs has increased.  But if Dr. Andress is the only one doing testing for USDA and she's got SO MANY things going on, how can we make any further headway on what's "safe" and what's not?  We don't live in a stagnant bubble...

And, truth be told, the incidence of botulism is quite rare.

You've got to use your best judgement.  Just like anything else.

...

Okay, vent over...  Go forth & can!  AFTER you make sure you're being safe!  :-)

That is an excellent amendment to my earlier statement about never modifying a tested recipe. I mainly intended that for people who are just getting started in home canning and don't yet have the knowledge to understand all the considerations. For those people, I still say, "just. follow. directions."

For people who have schooled themselves in what is currently known about safe canning, of course there is room to develop new ideas, or just make the tested recipes work better for you.

I still make the salsa recipe from the Ball Blue Book, but I've added more cilantro, some pickled chili peppers, and some lemon juice. That was mainly for flavor, but I also know lemon juice and pickled chili peppers will make the mix more acidic, so I believe most people knowledgeable about home canning would agree those are safe changes to make.

One occasion when I did almost get into some trouble by second-guessing a recipe, was the first time I made chili. I was following a Blue Book recipe, which is a good recipe, but noticed - what, no beans??? Instructions say, "Add the beans at serving time." I thought, what difference does it make, why not just add them to the jars?" So I added them before canning. The chili was great for about the first 6 months, but after that, I opened a jar (the seal was still fine and the vacuum was still present in the jar, nothing amiss that was visible through the glass), and started to notice a faintly musty scent. At that point, I chucked it and all the rest I had.

I didn't find out until several months later, when I was listening to an NPR Science Friday interview of a home canning expert at Jarden Home Brands... the processing time given for their chili recipe is for chili without beans because the food will have a different density with the beans in. More dense food is less penetrable by heat, so it's possible the inside of the beans were not getting heated enough (in that amount of time in the canner). I did notice, however, the Blue Book does have recipes for canned beans, but the processing times are somewhat longer. So I may try it again with beans, but add more time to the processing.

I included a link to the interview - some good info shared there, you can read the transcript or listen to the podcast. I encourage you to give it a listen.
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Re: Canning experts please - I need some advice

Post  plantoid on 12/27/2016, 7:31 pm

I too use the Dummies guide as well as the Ball Blue book

 When filling the jars do younuse a filling funnel ? Do you wipe the rim of the jar to make sure ther is no crud that might stop the seal being in total contact ?

 Do you " soak the seals "  in just off the boil hot water for about five minutes to soften them up ?
 
Are any of your rubber seals over two years old and have been opened to the air .. this can cause seals to age harden due to oxygen in the air and fail .

 I take it that you never ever try and reuse activated seals .. if you do it's a very very bad practice to carry out.

 The 42 pint All American Pressure Canner I imported into the UK has a specific hand book for it . That Ball Blue book is also useful .

 I also have a couple of canning books on my Kindle I didn't pay much for them either , some were free  .

Here are some of the more useful books I found good for my mindset :- 

My Presto canner cook book  by Skip Plemmons 

As it is set up for 15 pounds the recipes in it will be of use to you .


Home caning meat ,  poultry , fish & Vegetables  ..... by Stanley Marianski & Adam Marianski 
 Technical book on mainly commercial canning but well worth taking the trouble to read it several times over to understand what you are actually doing is safe .


Complete guide to home canning & preserving .     Second revised edition  U.S department of Agriculture

 Dover publications    www.doverpublications.om       code TX601.U63 1999 641.4 ' 2 - dc21       99-16803 CIP

To me this was the bee's knees canning book for there are several easy to understand charts in it and it takes you step by step into pressure canning
 It is split in two main parts one for hot water bath canning ,  the other for pressure canning . Each recipe gives the pressure , time and any adjustments needed for canning in places at  higher elevations

 Some foodstuffs can be preserved by either method and it gives both ways with times etc .
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