Oh no! Do I have to throw them out?

claysoil(z6 PA)August 13, 2012

I was following a recipe from Fanny Farmer for water bath canned pureed tomatoes. The recipe allowed me to add onions and peppers, so I did, BUT, I sauteed them in olive oil first. I have just read that is a no-no. I used my own tomatoes which are the slicing type, not paste, which makes them lower in acid, right? I cooked them for several hours and reduced them by 50%, so hopefully that raised the acid content. I have canned tomatoes before and we never got sick, but I remember that I added lemon juice to them, and I've looked through the archives and internet and see many references to adding lemon juice.

My question then is, can I open the jars and add lemon juice, use new lids and reprocess the tomatoes? One batch I made today and one I made 3 days ago. Or would it be better to put them into freezer containers? Or should I throw it all out?! All that work! Better than being a botulism statistic though!

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digdirt2(6b-7a No.Cent. AR HZ8 Sun-35)

I'm sorry but there are so many canning guideline violations and high risk mistakes in your methods that there is no way to know to best help.

You used a risky and unapproved recipe source, added onions and peppers that are both low-acid ingredients, pureed it so made it more dense, used the oil, BWB processed it rather than pressure canning, no added acid, made mistaken assumptions about your tomatoes - all tomatoes have basically the same low-acid pH and reducing them does NOT increase the pH, etc.

IMO those are high risk food poisoning bombs in jars. The best and safest thing to do is throw them all out and that is definitely what I would do. Otherwise it is your choice.

I suggest some time spent learning the basic guidelines for safe home canning.

Dave

Here is a link that might be useful: National Center for Home Food Preservation

    Bookmark   August 14, 2012 at 9:43AM
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claysoil(z6 PA)

Dave, thanks for responding to my post. The ONLY thing I did that did NOT follow the recipe was use the oil. So you're saying that I started with bad guidelines to begin with and then made it worse.

    Bookmark   August 14, 2012 at 12:03PM
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readinglady(z8 OR)

It's possible the Fanny Farmer recipe as originally written was OK, but without seeing it and knowing the year of the edition, it's impossible to tell.

There are a lot of misunderstandings about tomatoes. Tomato varieties do vary somewhat in pH but it's not a paste-slicer thing. And even the higher-acid tomatoes aren't really that acid. The onions and peppers further reduce the acidity.

Then if there are botulism spores in the product (They're in the soil and on the produce.) the oil coats the spores, reducing the penetration of any spore-killing acid. So with the olive oil you need a lot more acid and a lot of heat (i.e. a pressure-canner).

Cooking down does reduce water activity, so that helps somewhat in that regard, but it also increases density, further impacting heat penetration and processing time.

Products canned within 24 hours can be re-processed, but since there's no way to know the relative safety of any of the batches and no way to know how much lemon juice to add, it's a moot point.

You could freeze the batches and if you're comfortable with it, cook the thawed product at a hard boil for 10 minutes before consuming it. That will kill any possible botulism toxins.

There may be no problem at all. There's just no way to tell, so it really depends on your tolerance for risk. Your call.

Carol

    Bookmark   August 14, 2012 at 12:32PM
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claysoil(z6 PA)

Thanks Carol, that was informative. I am thinking there is no reason to throw out what I made yesterday since it was popped into the fridge after the jars cooled. We'll eat some for dinner today and freeze the rest. The 6 quarts in the basement from 4 days ago....you're saying if I freeze and boil them well before eating they'll be safe? I intended to cook them again anyway to add more ingredients to them before eating.

    Bookmark   August 14, 2012 at 12:56PM
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digdirt2(6b-7a No.Cent. AR HZ8 Sun-35)

The ONLY thing I did that did NOT follow the recipe was use the oil. So you're saying that I started with bad guidelines to begin with and then made it worse.

Unfortunately, yes that is what I am saying. But that is without seeing the whole recipe too so as Carol suggested, that would help.

That plus you made some incorrect assumptions about the acidity of tomatoes. I wish it was better news for you.

As Carol explained, cooking down does reduce water activity but that doesn't change the acidity, just the density.

The Fannie Farmer cookbooks are all quite old (most recent is 1996) so outdated when it comes to the safe guidelines for home canning.

Dave

    Bookmark   August 14, 2012 at 1:09PM
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claysoil(z6 PA)

Not that this makes it right, but I am finding all kinds of recipes on the internet at different sites for canning tomato sauce that has a much higher ratio of other veggies added to the tomatoes than what I made, and yes, even with oil. Confusing!

    Bookmark   August 14, 2012 at 1:10PM
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claysoil(z6 PA)

Thank you again Dave! I'm reading between the lines here that much fewer people have suffered food poisoning since the guidelines were updated.

    Bookmark   August 14, 2012 at 1:13PM
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digdirt2(6b-7a No.Cent. AR HZ8 Sun-35)

I am finding all kinds of recipes on the internet at different sites for canning tomato sauce that has a much higher ratio of other veggies added to the tomatoes than what I made, and yes, even with oil. Confusing!

Yes it is confusing. Especially when one is new to canning and isn't aware of the safe sources and is unable to distinguish between safe recipes and hazardous recipes. So those recipes found on the web are all do-at-your-own-risk recipes.

That's why the use of only USDA approved and tested recipes is recommended. The Ball Blue Book, freshpreserving.com, NCHFP, and several other approved books all offer several tested and approved recipes for canning tomato sauces with onions and peppers.

Dave

    Bookmark   August 14, 2012 at 3:33PM
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claysoil(z6 PA)

Appreciate your help Dave! Will check out those sites.

    Bookmark   August 14, 2012 at 5:46PM
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