Jar leaked during processing - seal/contents safe?

kaela_and_taiNovember 14, 2007

Hi all,

First post to this forum! I searched 15 pages back, but didn't see anything that helped, so...

My fiance and I were canning some apple pie filling (out of the Ball Complete book), left 1" of head space as instructed, and put them in our processor. Every jar leaked, but when we opened one, the seal was quite good. We just started canning this season, and this is the first time we've come across this issue. I'm concerned about food particles potentially trapped under the seal affecting the integrity of the seal over time. Even though some liquid leaked out during processing, is the filling inside safe to store at room temperature?

Thanks in advance for any advice/assistance!


Kaela & Tai

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ksrogers(EasternMass Z6)

Suggest you store in the fridge. Usually a thing like pie filling is poured into the jars while boiling in the pot its made in. The lids MUST be softened prior to applying to the jars. You do tis by placing them in hot, just simmering water. They should have no defects in the sealing area, and should probably NOT be a used lid. One inch of head space is fine for quarts, I usually have slightly less than that, and have only had a couple of jars fail out of hundreds canned in manmy years. The rings should be snugged down, but not overly tight. You know there is a seal by the design of the lids, which are initally convex (little dome in the center) before they make the seal, and make a 'tink' sound which makes them concave due to the vacuum produced while they are cooling. Never disturb the rings while they are out of the canner, until cooled to room temps. If filling has leaked out, its a sure sign that the jars may not have been filled with a boiling mixture, and boiling (as well as expansion) has occured durng processing. These do NOT need pressure canning, if the filling is acidic and contains sugar. I would also assume that you used a proper thickener like Clear Jel, which is a much more stable 'modified food starch' compared to things like arrowroot or regular corn starch.. You should also never use flour as a thickener in canning a pie filling.

    Bookmark   November 14, 2007 at 7:47PM
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Thanks for your response.

We suspect that the cause was that we didn't jar them fast enough, so that the temperature of the mixture wasn't actually boiling. We didn't use old lids, and we did soften the seals correctly. We also indeed used Clear Jel rather than another thickener. We were using Pint jars, not Quart; the recipe in the Ball book said to use Pint, and to leave 1" of head room. *shrug* Looks like we'll either re-process, or just keep them in the fridge.

One more question, thanks - in general, if the contents leak, does that mean that the jars are no longer safe to store at room temperature?

Thanks again,

Kaela & Tai

    Bookmark   November 14, 2007 at 7:56PM
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ksrogers(EasternMass Z6)

If the ring is removed and the jars sit out for a week or so, and the lids remain sunken in (concave), they should be fine. Just keep an eye on them. If in doubt, refrigerate. I used quart jars for my fillings. If they do leak or the lids get loose, then they should be stored in the fridge, and used very soon.

    Bookmark   November 14, 2007 at 8:26PM
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readinglady(z8 OR)

I'll disagree on this one. If the seal has integrity (place the jar upside down over a bowl and see if the seal holds), the seal is OK and re-processing is not needed. Neither is refrigeration (though you certainly could refrigerate or re-process if you felt more comfortable doing that).

The pie filling you're describing is a high-acid mixture and if, perchance, a seal does fail in the future, the only potential risk would be mold. You'd lose the product, but you're not going to get botulism or anything potentially fatal. Mold is easily detectible by sight or smell. I would not be worried about storing at room temp as long as you're not talking about extremes of temperature - i.e. a freezing cellar or in a cupboard next to the range.

It is very common for these pie fillings to expand and exude under the seal, even if the mixture is boiling when jarred. This is routine for thick mixtures. It won't do any harm to expand the headspace SLIGHTLY to 1 1/4", but the best way to prevent the problem is to thin the mixture and not use as much ClearJel as the recipe calls for. I think you'll discover it's pretty viscous at the recommended levels.

Also, are you allowing a rest time in the canner before taking out the jars? This can assist in the settling of contents and reduce the likelihood of spewing. The recommended procedure is to remove the lid at the end of the processing time and then wait a further 5 minutes before taking the jars from the water.

I hope this helps. Let us know if you have further questions.


    Bookmark   November 14, 2007 at 8:27PM
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If there is a bit of 'overflow' and it still seals quickly, like within 5 minutes after removing from the water bath, then everything should be ok. Some times, this happens and it won't seal after 30 minutes. I either take the lid off, wash it carefully and try again since it was the overflow that wrecked the seal, or I throw it out and put on a new one, and try processing it again.

If all that doesn't seem worth the effort, I'll put them in the fridge for more rapid use. Sometimes, they will then seal up surprisingly tight in the fridge, but I just don't trust that.

    Bookmark   November 14, 2007 at 8:41PM
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dgkritch(Z8 OR)

Just one more little thing to add....
If you plan to store at room temp, be sure to wash the outside of the jars REALLY well or mold can/will develop on the jar. Very unappealing and might make you decide to toss a perfectly good jar of food.


    Bookmark   November 15, 2007 at 12:57PM
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