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First time canning, couple questions!

Posted by happyday WI4a (My Page) on
Wed, Nov 23, 11 at 17:12

I have never canned anything before, always been afraid to try. OK, I'm finally doing it.

Got jars washed and upside down in BWB canner, got lids and rings washed and in a pan of water to simmer, got the magnet and tongs and things washed and ready to use. The pot of tomatoes is heating up on the stove.

Couple questions. I only have a plastic funnel and polypropylene ladle, can't very well boil them to sterilize, or they will melt. Is it really ok to just use them clean, and not boiled to sterilze?

After I hot fill the jars with the boiled tomato chunks, I leave a half inch headspace? Then wipe and put lids and rings on, and get them just snug?

Then put back in the rack right side up, and put in the boiling water, for how long? And how high should the water be, should it cover the jar tops, or come halfway up?

Afer boiling long enough, do I take the jars right out, or let them stay in the water and cool off inside the kettle for longer cooking time? It's ok to overcook tomatoes.

I did pour in some lime juice for extra acid. Should I add canning salt too?


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: First time canning, couple questions!

All depends on what set of instructions you are using as there are several different ways to can tomatoes. Are you doing crushed, or halved in water or in tomato juice or with no added liquid? They have different processing times. Are you BWB them or pressure canning them? I assume BWB since you mention that with the jars and if so then BWB canning requires that the jars be covered by 1-2" of water at all times during processing.

some lime juice??? Specific amounts are required. Why lime? It is safe but a very different flavor. Salt is optional.

NCHFP provides the step-by-step instructions for using a BWB canner, So does the Ball Blue Book. I assume you are using one or the other. Both also provide the step-by-step instructions for canning tomatoes. Those instructions will tell you about when and how to remove the jars.

Sterilization of equipment is not required. Sterilization of jars is only required if the food will be processed less than 10 mins.

OK?

Dave

Here is a link that might be useful: How to can tomatoes - NCHFP


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RE: First time canning, couple questions!

Thanks Dave. Do I really have to keep skimming the foam off the top of the cooking tomatos? I'm canning chunks of tomato that I cut in slices and froze flat, then bagged and put in freezer, then had to take them out to put a turkey in, so these chunks are getting boiled and canned. I'm using lime juice because I have a bottle of Realime I want to use up. There were ripe, end of season tomatoes that didn't freeze, so might not need the extra acid, just trying to be extra safe.


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RE: First time canning, couple questions!

It says here
http://nchfp.uga.edu/how/can_03/tomato_juice_pack.html

That I should process in BWB for 85 minutes, whether hot or raw pack. Really? All the locals here tell me they just hot pack in clean jars and set them on the counter and don't boil the filled jars at all! I've been boiling the tomatoes nearly an hour to hot pack, I have to boil the filled jars another hour and a half?

Also how tight should i get the lids, just snug?

The BWB canner is 14 inches diameter and the largest electric burner is only 7.5 so it's too big there too. Can't be helped, maybe I can rotate the jars halfway through.


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RE: First time canning, couple questions!

Ok, several issues here. First, what the neighbors is talking about is called open kettle canning and hasn't been considered safe to do for several decades. They can do as they wish but none of us here would ever agree to it.

Second, proper acidification of 1 T lemon juice (or lime) per pint and 2 T per quart is required regardless of when the tomatoes were picked. Tomatoes are borderline low-acid. This is all explained in great detail at NCHP and has been the policy since the mid 1970's.

If you have been boiling the tomatoes that long (which isn't required by the way) then they easily qualify as 'crushed tomatoes'. The BWB processing time for crushed tomatoes is 35 min for pints and 45 min for quarts IF the required amount of acid has been added to them.

The 85 mins is for whole or halved tomatoes in water or tomato juice or for whole or halved tomatoes canned with no liquid added. Your's aren't whole or halves.

I've been boiling the tomatoes nearly an hour to hot pack, I have to boil the filled jars another hour and a half?

Preparing the food for putting in jars and actually canning (processing) are two different things. One is cooking and one is canning. :) None of the instructions for doing tomatoes require a long cooking time so yours are going to be very mushy cooked that long.

But they do require canning/processing or there is still air in the jars, there is no vacuum and molds, fungus and other bacteria can continue to grow. So you can listen to the neighbors and their well documented unsafe methods OR do it the right and safe way. Your choice.

See Tomato acidification: http://nchfp.uga.edu/how/can_03/tomato_intro.html#acidification

As to your canner and burner size: As long as the burner will keep the pot of water boiling it is fine. No need to rotate jars as long as they are under boiling water for the whole time. The risk is to your stove not the tomatoes since using a pot so much bigger than the burner risks damaging the burner itself.

OK?

Dave

Here is a link that might be useful: Canning Crushed Tomatoes


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RE: First time canning, couple questions!

45 min

Hey that's great! I just turned the BWB off after 65 mins. That middle one is done for sure. Two of them have already plinked even before taking them out of the canner. Will wait 5 mins and take them out and set up for the second batch.


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RE: First time canning, couple questions!

Let's see, what did I learn. The handles on the rack of a cheap BWB canner are untrustworthy, they are only looped around a horizontal wire and if the rack becomes unbalanced the handle wires can bunch together and shift the load. Later I'll have to wire the base of each handle to a side wire to prevent that. Wonder what kind of wire I should use to prevent electrolysis from starting and eating away at the metal.

I also didn't do exactly as you told me, Dave. When I put the jars in I only filled with boiling water to just below the rings, not to cover. Locals told me that they only fill the boiling water halfway up the jar, so I compromised and filled it nearly all the way up. I see your point, though, about the vacuum. If I don't cover with water, air might get back in. So I'm doing the second batch of tomato puree, (whole tomatoes put through the blender with seeds and skins) with an inch of water to cover.

Thanks so much for your help, I really appreciate it!


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RE: First time canning, couple questions!

Your first batch then is not safely processed and not safe for shelf storage. It must either be re-processed, frozen, or placed immediately in the fridge and used ASAP.

If the jars are not covered with 1-2" of water - if not completely submerged - then air is sucked back into the jar not forced out to create a vacuum. Those jars need to be re-processed to be considered safe.

There has never been a method of BWB canning that called for only "filling the boiling water halfway up the jar". Or to just below the rings either. That applies only to pressure canning, NOT BWB canning.

You are receiving some very bad information from the locals - some of it very outdated, some of it just flat wrong and potentially dangerous.

I strongly encourage you to do some reading on how to can food from legitimate sources such as the Ball Blue Book or NCHFP before trying any further projects.

Dave


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RE: First time canning, couple questions!

If you wish to follow "old fashioned" methods, then please also follow the old fashioned method of boiling low acid canned goods for 10 minutes before eating. That will neutralize the botulism toxins.

I know my Granny canned a lot of food using methods not approved now, but I also know that we were not allowed to eat low acid veggies out of the jar, it all had to be boiled first.


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RE: First time canning, couple questions!

Your jars need to be covered with 1"-2" inches of water the entire processing time. Your first "batch" where you only filled up to the rings will not be Safe to consume!


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RE: First time canning, couple questions!

OK! The second batch is covered with water! A lot of air bubbles are blooping out. Hope that water is not able to seep in.

What about the headspace, what if it is a little bit more than on half inch? Will that make it not safe too?

Thanks to everyone coming along for the first try adventure!


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RE: First time canning, couple questions!

Took the second batch out after 45 mins covered. Haven't heard any plinking.


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RE: First time canning, couple questions!

You may not hear any plinking or it may take some time for you to hear it. There's no hard-and-fast rule for how long these things take. In fact, if tomato product is up against the lid, you may know the jars are sealed by the depression in the center, not by sound.

You have interesting locals. There's nothing "old-fashioned" about using water halfway up the jars. That's a crock. It was incorrect 40 years ago, 50 years ago, 80 years ago. 80+ years ago the standard instruction for a boiling water bath was to cover the jars with at least an inch of water.

My family and my husband's family were canning well before WWII, as were our Mennonite neighbors. That's about as old-fashioned as it gets, and nobody used a boiling water bath in anything other than the recommended way.

It seems counter-intuitive, but water does not leak into the jars, even though they're covered.

The best thing you can do for yourself is follow Dave's advice and go to the NCHFP link to read up on canning. There's also a self-paced canning course. It's free and the link is on the homepage.

Carol


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RE: First time canning, couple questions!

Carol, I'm pretty sure that the person mentioning water half-way up the jars was talking about pressure canning and I misunderstood. Although I definitely have been told about just hotfilling them and leaving them on the counter, or even turning them upside down on the counter, but only for tomatoes and salsa from the Mrs. Wages salsa mix, with tomatoes. Nobody ever mentioned adding lemon or vinegar.

They all sealed by morning. :)! Will wait another day and take the rings off. The batch that was covered does look like it has a quarter inch of almost water on the top.

I will look for the canning course, sounds like a good resource.


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RE: First time canning, couple questions!

Yes, that can be true of pressure canning and makes sense, though I did have one friend who got halfway through canning tomatoes with water halfway up the jars. Fortunately my husband stopped by and told him to start over.

Tomatoes are often misunderstood. People think they're high-acid and they're not, even if they taste quite tart. They can fall into the low-acid range, depending upon the variety, the growing conditions, hours of exposure to sunlight, degree of ripeness, etc. A lot of things can produce a low-acid tomato, which is why since 1988 the USDA has required acidification. Even then they were a little slow because the research demonstrating low-acid tomatoes was done in 1976. So it's been a long time.

Mrs. Wages salsa mix has added citric acid, but still it's a bad idea to open-kettle can (hot-filling jars, applying lid and allowing to cool) anything except possibly full-sugar jams and jellies. Salsa is considered a high-risk product due to the low-acid ingredients like peppers and garlic. It's also eaten cold from the jar so you don't have the safety margin provided by additional cooking after opening.

Still, my BIL insists on open-kettle-canning his salsa and nothing I say will change his mind, so I recognize people who have done this for years without yet having negative results are probably going to stay with that habit.

Keep in mind that there are a lot of people, family, friends and neighbors, who have compromised immune systems and health issues who are at greater risk when marginal or risky canning practices are followed. What one person may survive with only the "24-hour flu" another may not.

Even if there aren't food safety issues, seal failures and waste are higher with this method. It's much easier for various contaminants to survive and the result is mold or other forms of spoilage. Boiling water bath can sometimes be a pain but it's a whole lot less frustrating than heading for the shelves and realizing half your tomatoes have popped seals and mold or fizzy bubbling inside the jars.

Happy Thanksgiving. Time to get back to the cooking!

Carol


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RE: First time canning, couple questions!

I know, all those worries and cautions and fears and warnings are the reason why I never canned anything, until last night. But I tried it and it worked, and if I survive eating it over the winter, I may can again next year, and save all those wasted tomatoes that don't fit in the freezer.

Happy Thanksgiving!


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