Apple Butter not sealed

2ajsmamaOctober 10, 2010

I think I know the answer to this, and I wouldn't even ask about pickles or salsa, but I found an 8oz jar of low-sugar apple butter I made on 10/3/10 that had the button popped, and I easily pulled the lid off (though it was stuck on slightly). It's been in my basement in a covered cardboard box (no ring) for a week. Should I pitch it? Or refrigerate it and use it ASAP?

Not sure if the problem with spreads is mold or if it could be contaminated with other nasty stuff (esp. since it's low-sugar). Thanks

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

Problem is molds and it is a double problem with low sugar stuff. Basement storage can further increase the chances.

For assured safety, pitch it. Otherwise, it is your choice.

Dave

    Bookmark   October 10, 2010 at 2:11PM
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2ajsmama

Yeah, I figured (even though we have dehumidifier running in basement). Wouldn't even use it for baking?

At least it wasn't the maple syrup batch.

I don't remember if this was a lid that came on a jelly jar, or one of the 2 I found in a box of lids that looked fishy (bought at TSC). It's pretty bad when even new lids fail! But I was running low so chanced it. I've emailed Ball about the problem with their lids (both the shrink-wrapped cases of jars with lids already sealed, though not a strong seal, and the box of replacement lids that had 2 the looked the same as the shrink-wrapped ones). They never replied.

    Bookmark   October 10, 2010 at 3:31PM
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readinglady(z8 OR)

I wouldn't have a problem using it, especially for baking, IF no mold can be detected visually or by smell.

You could also (again assuming no mold is detected) further add to your comfort level by re-heating the apple butter in that jar to the boil and then using it in baking. I don't believe it's required, but sometimes we do things because we feel better, and that has merit.

Fruit butters are definitely more problematic unsealed as they do have a lower level of sugar than regular preserves.

In this case it's a matter of the odds and the likelihood (statistically very small) that mold will have developed within a quite short time-frame. Now, if you noticed that jar next February, that might be different.

Carol

    Bookmark   October 10, 2010 at 4:35PM
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2ajsmama

Thanks - I stuck it in the fridge, will decide tomorrow what to do.

I just cut up a bunch of green tomatoes (salted and standing now), threw some brand-new widemouth pints in the DW, and you know out of 3, 1 lid was definitely stuck on, has an indentation. I do have some spares (bought 1 box of WM when I bought the regular mouth lids at TSC). Don't want to risk the pickles!

    Bookmark   October 10, 2010 at 4:38PM
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macybaby

I've been doing a lot of canning in my summer kitchen (out-building). Depending on the time of day I take out the unused jars, the lids may be sealed down quite well. Not enough that I can't easily pull them loose with my fingers.

Some of the jars sat in the sun coming in the window all day long, and then as the son goes down, the temps may drop into the 50's rather quickly (no insulation). The cooling of the air inside the shrinkwrapped jars can cause them to seal up.

Never had a problem with the lids because of this.

When I out there in the evening, I usually hear several "pops" as some are sealing up a bit.

It could be that with the apple butter, you had some siphoning and a bit of apple got under the seal. It will seal tight, but as the apple dries out it can cause the seal to let go. For me, apples are the worst for this, followed by tomatoes.

    Bookmark   October 10, 2010 at 6:17PM
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2ajsmama

This is the first seal I've had let go, though I've had some (tomato sauce) that didn't seal at all. I took the lid off this morning and you're right, the rim is sticky. So either I forgot to clean it, or it did boil out some though I didn't notice apple in the canning water. I have noticed that with tomato sauce and salsa, my headspace isn't clean. Wasn't a problem with my blackberry "gum". Some of the apple butter is clean, but most also has residue in the headspace and some on the underside of the lid.

Apple butter is fairly thick, followed by Chunky Tomato Basil sauce, then Annie's Salsa. But they all boil up into the headspace (like I said, this is the only leak, and the jar doesn't feel sticky, just the rim). Is it just the nature of the beast, or am I not leaving enough headspace? Sometimes I'm really careful about measuring it (and freeing bubbles) with the bubble tool, other times I just "eyeball" it. But every batch does it.

    Bookmark   October 11, 2010 at 8:33AM
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macybaby

I think it's just one of those things that occasionally happens, but I have more trouble with apple products than most.

Leaving too much head space can cause a jar to not develop the needed vacuum and not seal too - so you do your best and keep make improvements, but just when you think you do everything perfect - you'll get 2-3 jars in a batch that don't seal.

I've canned up over 800 jars of assorted produce this fall, and I think I've had 10-15 not seal. I would say I "eyeball" everything and I wouldn't think my failure rate is too high. I also think I have more failure with pressure canned goods than BWB. And with the BWB, it's usually apples.

    Bookmark   October 11, 2010 at 8:50AM
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digdirt2(6b-7a No.Cent. AR HZ8 Sun-35)

It isn't the lids, it is the thickness of the food in the jars. Most people try to can their sauce things TOO thick - applesauce, salsa, tomato sauce, apple pie filling, apple butter, etc.

Too thick will almost guarantee boil out and poor seals will happen. Thin them down to where they should be and it doesn't.

Dave

    Bookmark   October 11, 2010 at 9:27AM
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2ajsmama

That's something that confuses me - by definition apple butter is thicker than apple sauce. So why do all the approved recipes call for longer processing times for the apple *sauce*?

    Bookmark   October 11, 2010 at 9:32AM
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digdirt2(6b-7a No.Cent. AR HZ8 Sun-35)

Because apple butter has vinegar added to it. It is more acidic.

But apple butter isn't necessarily thicker than applesauce either. As mentioned above, when either is too thick then canning problems will result. A sure sign that it was too thick when canned, be it sauce or butter, is lots of tiny air bubbles scattered through out the jars after processing.

People tend to discount the further cooking of it that takes place while it is processing and the effects that has. So they over-cook it before jarring. To easily avoid the problems just make sure that when it goes into the jar it is thinner than what you'd want the finished product to be.

Dave

    Bookmark   October 11, 2010 at 1:43PM
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readinglady(z8 OR)

Apple butter has to be thick or it's not apple butter. It's supposed to be dense enough that it will mound on a spoon with no liquid seepage around the edges. That's how I make it.

I've never had a problem with expansion with apple butter. I think as with jam there's a point, allowing for the recommended headspace, where a mixture is too thick to seep. It's definitely thicker than applesauce and doesn't expand as apple pie filling will.

This is just a guess on the processing time as I hadn't thought about that issue, but it's probably a combination of lower water content (i.e. higher acidity) and the sugar. While the sugar level is lower than a jam, it's definitely far higher than that of applesauce, which at the most has only a light sweetening.

But I'm not a food scientist, so there may be factors I'm not considering.

Carol

    Bookmark   October 11, 2010 at 1:43PM
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readinglady(z8 OR)

The BBB recipe has no vinegar in it.

I think we'll have to differ on this. We like our apple butter very thick, like a spread or a jam. If I can't stand a spoon up in it, it's not thick enough. So far (knock on wood) no problems whatsoever with jarring or processing. And I've canned lots of apple butter.

Carol

    Bookmark   October 11, 2010 at 4:19PM
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val_s(z5 central IL)

I make the Sweet Apple Cider Butter from the Ball Complete book and it too doesn't call for vinegar (don't think we'd eat it if it did). It also says that it should mound on the spoon and hold it's shape.

So far, in two years of following the instructions I haven't had a problem with seepage or lids not sealing.

Val

    Bookmark   October 11, 2010 at 4:43PM
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2ajsmama

I used Linda Z's recipes from the Joy of Jams and also Annie's grandma's (though cooked it in slow cooker), I've added maple syrup to some batches in place of a cup of sugar, and I always cook it just until it mounds and doesn't separate on a cold plate, no more (not as thick as Carol's!). No vinegar, just apple juice (or apple juice concentrate) added, just enough so it doesn't burn. I figured it had something to do with the sugar, but Joy of Jams low-sugar and no-sugar-added recipes don't have any longer processing times.

I'll have to look up the Sweet Apple Cider Butter recipe.

    Bookmark   October 11, 2010 at 8:32PM
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zabby17(z5/6 Ontario)

Vinegar in apple butter? Yuck!

And a thick consistency is what MAKES somethin a fruit butter, as opposed to sauce or jam. Approved instructions say it should mound on a spoon.

I've wondered about the processing time, too. Theorized that maybe it's because it is so concentrated it is more acidic. But that's just my theory!

Z

    Bookmark   October 11, 2010 at 9:38PM
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readinglady(z8 OR)

According to the Jamlady, long-cooking evaporates water and actually increases the sugar concentration, so that while a butter may be at a lower sugar level than a jam, it's not by much. (Of course if you cook it very thick, then it probably is pretty much a jam.)

That must be the case because I've had apple and plum butters jell, essentially becoming spiced fruit jams.

Carol

    Bookmark   October 12, 2010 at 4:12AM
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2ajsmama

I looked at all my jars, I was allowing probably too much headspace in the blackberry jam (though none have come unsealed), plus it was very thick. But I can still see seeds stuck to the lid right at the rim. Even B&B pickles show a sugar residue in the headspace, dills show something even if it's harder to see. Of course apple butter and tomato products are the worst. But everything I've canned (at least the stuff I have left) shows some evidence of food boiling up into the headspace, *except* the dills I pastuerized.

Linda Amendt says food in the headspace is evidence of poor handling, and I have to admit I don't have the counterspace to leave 6 jars sitting out undisturbed for 24 hrs, so I move them to the basement within 12 hours, sometimes less if they are cool to the touch. Or I take some off one rack and move them onto the other rack, crowding them together.

But Linda A. also "high-temp pasteurizes" her spreads at 200 degrees for 10-15 minutes rather than boiling for 5-10. I think that might have something to do with her being able to keep the headspace clear. I haven't tried it (I immersed my thermometer by mistake while washing). If 180-185 is OK for pickles, would her method be safe for spreads *only*? I wouldn't try it for anything else (salsa for example). Her book worries me b/c it doesn't list a food scientist in the credits. And I wouldn't use any of her recipes b/c she adds commercial liquid pectin to *everything*, including apple butter (well, not the Old Fashioned recipe, but the Caramel version)! Though some sound tempting without pectin...

Maybe the best thing to do is leave 1/2" headspace in apple butter rather than 1/4"?

    Bookmark   October 12, 2010 at 8:42AM
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digdirt2(6b-7a No.Cent. AR HZ8 Sun-35)

After 40 some years of making it I can't imagine Apple Butter WITHOUT vinegar in it. It would just be brown applesauce. ;)

Check out the NCHFP instructions for it - almost identical to the one we have used for 2 lifetimes. You might actually like it.

Dave

    Bookmark   October 12, 2010 at 9:33AM
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ltilton

I assume you use apple cider vinegar?

    Bookmark   October 12, 2010 at 10:36AM
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val_s(z5 central IL)

I can't imagine Apple Butter WITHOUT vinegar in it

Must be an Arkansas 'thang'. :-)

Just kidding, of course - no offense. We mid-westerners must have more of a sweet tooth. Can't imagine the tartness the vinegar gives to something like apple butter.

Val

    Bookmark   October 12, 2010 at 2:12PM
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sharonann1

California must have a sweet tooth, too. I honestly thought the vinegar comment was tongue-in-cheek when I first read it.

Sharon, for whom apple butter IS really brown, really cooked down applesauce

    Bookmark   October 12, 2010 at 3:34PM
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2ajsmama

I brought some canned goods (dills, B&Bs, salsa, blackberry jam, and Maple Apple Butter) over to my uncle's this w/e since they have guests from Germany. They said they had herb butters and garlic butter in Germany but not apple butter. I explained to them that there's no butter in it, basically a thick, sweeter applesauce. At least that's the way I make it.

And it's not even really brown if you skip the spices, use Grade A maple syrup and a touch of vanilla (esp. if you use clear vanilla).

    Bookmark   October 12, 2010 at 3:39PM
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zabby17(z5/6 Ontario)

> It would just be brown applesauce. ;)

Yep.

Spiced, thick, spreadable, sweet (some added sweetener, but mostly from concentrating the natural sugars) applesauce.

For some reason this discussion reminds me of a time when, very early in our relationship, DH and I were on a long car trip and stopped at a roadside restaurant.

It was one of those places that aims for a countrie-down-home-y atmosphere, with checked curtains and farm kitsch on the walls. There was a shelf full of what was clearly some specialty food stuff for sale in the corner. From the distance we were at, we couldn't read the label, and we somehow got into a discussion of what it might be.

"Apple butter," I predicted.
"Barbecue sauce," predicted DH.

Finally we went up to take a look. It turned out to be labelled, no word of a lie ... Apple Butter Barbecue Sauce.

;-p

Z

    Bookmark   October 12, 2010 at 3:48PM
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val_s(z5 central IL)

Apple Butter Barbecue Sauce

Now don't you just know that sounds really really good! I'll have to look for a recipe :-)

Val

    Bookmark   October 12, 2010 at 4:40PM
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digdirt2(6b-7a No.Cent. AR HZ8 Sun-35)

Maybe it is a southern thing (even though the NCHFP recipe calls for vinegar) as Mom and Grandma were both from Georgia and none of the brothers or sisters ever heard of making it without vinegar either.

But just out of curiosity I Googled other recipes for it and found that there are actually quite a few Apple Butter recipes that include vinegar (cider vinegar) so I guess we aren't TOO weird down here in the hills. ;)

Try a small batch of it. You might just like it.

And if you want to make Apple Butter Bar B Q sauce, here is our recipe:

1 1/4 cup apple butter
1 cup diced onion
1/4 cup ketchup
1-2 T prepared yellow mustard
1 t Worcestershire sauce
3 t liquid smoke
Salt and pepper to taste (if you have Cavenders add 1 t)
1 t diced garlic
1-2 t cider vinegar (to thin to desired consistency)
1 t minced garlic
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon paprika

Mix everything together in a sauce pot on medium heat and simmer (do not boil) for approx. 15 mins. Let cool and put in a jar. Keeps in the fridge for up to 30 days. If you prefer a sweeter sauce add 1-2 T honey or pancake syrup to taste.

Dave

    Bookmark   October 12, 2010 at 6:01PM
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val_s(z5 central IL)

Try a small batch of it. You might just like it.

I wouldn't mind trying a batch but I'll have to do it when the kid isn't here. If she sees me trying another recipe other than the one in the Ball Complete book, she'll likely kill me! We all have our favorite recipes in this house. Mine is Linda Lou's Apple Pie Jam, for the kid, nothing but the Sweet Apple Cider Butter, for hubby, it's peach jam (he's a little different *grin*).

But I'm bettin' I can get everyone to try the Apple Butter Bar B Q Sauce. Sounds awesome. I'm copying it over. How much does this make? Pint? Quart?

Thanks for the recipe.

Val

    Bookmark   October 12, 2010 at 10:27PM
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2ajsmama

I stopped by my uncle's today, his visitors (at least the women, the men were shopping for Levis). One asked me for the Maple Apple Butter recipe, she makes her own applesauce and freezes it, I told her "easy, just cook down your applesauce, add about a cup of maple syrup for every 6C of sauce, add sugar to taste (she already adds sugar to her applesauce). It's done when it mounds and doesn't separate on a cold plate."

I wonder if this is the first time apple butter will be made in Germany LOL?

    Bookmark   October 14, 2010 at 5:08PM
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