Need answers fast.

kikistreehouseDecember 29, 2011

Me again. I got a phone call this morning from my cousin.ShE asked if I could come help her move some shelves. So off I went. She lost her husband earlier last year and her mother a few months ago. So I try and help her as much as I can. Well after getting there I found out the shelves were for all the canning foods she has (her's and her moms).Well as we were moving the jars a lid popped off Looked like white beans (I dont know if they were dried then canned or fresh).So Talked her into checking the jars by holding up and seeing if a lid pops off . A couple did . She is the one I wrote of before that canns the old way . Well I had talked her into removing the rings.I've never seen so many jars of food put up. They were saved and brought back from Tennessee with her moms belongs. I have questions about some of the food that was thrown away today. I know her mom did use a pressure cooker cause she shoud me it. ( didnt know they made them that big) anyway. I 've always read that you shoud throu the jars and all away when suspecting bad .. I couldnt talk her into doing it she throu it all in a garbage bag. I read that the spore could be in the air..And also some of the beans had no water and seem to jell up. She had so many different beans. and she had potatoes that were like maybe starch resting in the bottom of the jar.(1 inch or 2). She is waiting for a answer on the potatoes. Before they get put away.Shoud they be thrown away? She also had some sweet potatoes she was going to cook and were muchy. Why? I really dont think she cares. But I do .Iam trying to look up some answers. I know I cant talk her into changing how she canns. But I am making her aware of the dangers. Iam planning on buying her a Ball book. Theres no way she'll throu the jars away. Growing up I never ate at her house cause I never felt it was clean. Birds flying everwhere.Could someone give me some answers.If the lids poped off does that mean botchlisum?Oh and I've never made pickles so I dont know . I know you have to cook the food for 30 minutes or so to be safe and with pickles theres no cooking so how is that safe or is there no fear because of the vinegar. She had sweet and dill. But the lids are good and tight. What do you think.Do you think this loosing could have been done moving the jars here. Thank you so much..

jamie P.s. I do feel good about talking her into throuing the beans away . When I told her some of the other stuff I've learned she thought I was crazy.She is to impatient to wait for the presure to go down on its own too. She will not throu the jars away when needed.

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

Having some trouble sorting out your actual questions so forgive me if I miss them or mis-understand them.

1. If the lids poped off does that mean botchlisum?

No. Botulism has no odor or taste and does not produce gas. All it means is that for one of many different reasons the seal broke. There is no way of knowing if the food is safe to eat or not so the standard rule applies - "if in doubt, throw it out".

2. Do you think this loosing could have been done moving the jars here. Thank you so much.

I doubt it. Good seals will withstand a great deal of jar activity. Poor seals due to contamination or improper processing will not.

3. potatoes that were like maybe starch resting in the bottom of the jar

That is common and alone isn't a sign that the potatoes have gone bad. How safe they are all depends on if they were properly processed and you have no way to know that.

4. She also had some sweet potatoes she was going to cook and were muchy

Mushy sweet potatoes alone is not an indication of wheter they are safe to eat or not. Again IF they were properly processed and IF the seal is still intact they may be fine.

These are all symptoms of why those who refuse to follow the approved instructions for home canning just end up wasting tons of food. It is their choice and if they don't wish to learn or change there is little you can do.


    Bookmark   December 29, 2011 at 7:08PM
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readinglady(z8 OR)

You don't have to cook foods for 30 minutes. It's 10 minutes or 20 minutes at a rolling boil, depending upon the density of the food (for example, canned creamed corn is very dense). And that recommendation applies only if there's doubt about the safety of the food itself.

So I don't worry about boiling any low-acid foods like that because I'm confident about my processing times and procedures.

Pickles are an acid product (assuming she followed a standard recipe) and shouldn't be a problem, at least not a botulism problem. They might have listeria or some form of spoilage.

If your cousin is too impatient to wait for the pressure to come down naturally (+10 minutes wait time after the regulator is removed) then I wouldn't trust anything she pressure canned because the processing time is shorter than recommended. The recommended time includes all the time required for the gauge to reach zero + the required wait time after that. Anything less doesn't meet the standard.

Her unwillingness to wait for a true zero also means it's highly likely liquid expels from jars (i.e. siphoning) which is why you're seeing beans with gel but no liquid and potatoes the same. The starch that forms naturally isn't a concern but routinely popping off the lid of a canner before the pressure is fully down can create all kinds of problems (not to mention a certain risk to the person).

The glass jars can be boiled and re-used. It's not really the jars that are the issue. It's handling all that food when you're not sure of its safety, removing it from jars and possibly contaminating your kitchen or perhaps if you're putting it on a compost pile, putting chickens or pets or such at risk. That's why it's recommended that you leave the food in the jars and just get rid of it.

To add to what Dave said about the lids, if lids come off, the likelihood is there's less risk of botulism rather than more because botulism doesn't like air and clearly a jar where a lid is popping off probably had air seeping in.

You can check seals by turning the jar upside-down over a bucket. The seal should be strong enough to hold; if not, the bucket catches the mess.

Really, in your situation I'd be wearing a hazmat suit. But your cousin's had a very rough year already with so many losses; it's great that you're helping. I'd do what I could to encourage safe canning and disposal practices, but I might not push too much. She's already dealing with a lot.


    Bookmark   December 29, 2011 at 8:22PM
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