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How to avoid/fix Canning Problems

What causes my food to darken in the top of the jar?

There are several things that could cause this to happen:

The liquid did not cover the food product:
To prevent this from happening, cover the food completely with brine, syrup, juice, or water before adjusting your two-piece lid.

The food did not process long enough to inactivate enzymes
:
In order to prevent this you will need to process each batch of canned foods for the recommended length of time.

There was not enough air expelled through the manner of packing and processing:
Hot pack your jars when it is indicated to do so in your recipe.

Air could have been sealed in the jar because either the headspace was too large or the air bubbles were not removed:
Be sure to use the headspace that is recommended in the recipe that you are using. Use a spatula or a bubble freer and slide it between the food and jar; press back on the food gently in order to release trapped air bubbles.


My tomato juice has separated, what caused this?

Sometimes tomato juice and other juices will separate if there is an enzymatic change during the handling of the tomatoes (or fruit) after it has been cut. The best way to prevent this is to heat the tomatoes quickly to a simmering temperature.


After I remove my fruits from the jar they start to darken, why?

The most likely scenario is that your fruit was not processed long enough to inactivate the enzymes. To prevent this from happening to your fruit, in the future, you will need to process each fruit by the recommended method and for the specified amount of time. Time is counted when the water reaches a rolling boil in a boiling-water canner (waterbath) and with a pressure canner you will start counting time when the recommended pressure is reached.


My corn turned brown after I canned it. What went wrong?


There are several things that could cause this to happen:

You may have chosen a variety of corn that is not suitable for canning, or your corn was not harvested at the right time :
When selecting your corn choose only varieties of corn recommended for preserving and choose ears-of-corn with shiny, plump kernels that are filled with milk.

Your liquid may not have covered your corn:
Be sure to cover corn with liquid before adjusting the two-piece lid.

The jars were processed at too high of a temperature:
Keep the pressure in your canner at the recommended pounds; if you did this then your dial gauge may be faulty and MUST be checked.


My apples are a pinkish purple, what happened?

In canned apples, pears, peaches, and quinces there can sometimes be a pink, red, blue, or purple color, this is caused from a natural chemical change which occurs in cooking the fruit. There is nothing that can prevent this that we know of.


I have had some of my canned foods turn black, brown, and/or gray, what is up?

This scenario can happen when natural chemical substances in your food react with minerals in the water or with metal utensils that were used while preparing the food. The best step to take to prevent this is to use soft water and to avoid using brass, copper, iron, aluminum, zinc, or chipped enamelware and utensils from which the tin plate is worn.


There is a crystal like substance in my canned grape juice...what should I do next time to prevent this?

Those crystals are formed by tartaric acid which is found in grapes naturally. The best thing to do is to allow your grape juice to stand overnight after straining it during the canning prep process. Ladle the juice from the container so as not to disturb sediment that has settled to the bottom, then strain again.


What are these white crystals that I found in my canned spinach?

Those white crystals are calcium and oxalic acid that combined to form calcium oxalate. Calcium oxalate is harmless and unfortunately, there aren't any known steps that you can take to avoid this from happening.


There is white sediment in the bottoms of some of my canned vegetables, what caused this?

There are a few things that could have caused this. Some of these things could mean that the vegetables are spoiled. If this is what you think caused it, do NOT use the product.

The white sediment that you see could be starch from the food that you canned:
There are no preventative measures to take if this is the case.

Minerals from the water that you used:
Use soft water instead.

Bacterial spoilage can also cause this white sediment. The food is usually soft and the liquid murky:
NEVER use food that has been spoiled. Next time that you can, to prevent food from spoiling, you will need to process each food by the recommended method and for the recommended length of time.


My fruit is floating in the top of the jar, why is this?

Your fruit is most likely lighter than the syrup that you canned it with. To prevent this from happening the next time you can, you will need to use firm, ripe fruit. Heat your fruit before packing it. Use a light to medium syrup, and pack fruit as closely as possible without crushing it.


The liquid in my cans is cloudy, what does this mean?

There are several things that could cause this problem. However, some of these problems could mean spoilage if this is the case do NOT use the canned food.

Food spoilage from under processing:
If you suspect that this is the reason for the cloudy liquid do NOT eat this food. To prevent food spoilage you need to process each food by the recommended method and for the recommended length of time.

Minerals from the water that you used:
Use soft water instead.

The white sediment that you see could be starch from the food that you canned:
There are no preventative measures to take if this is the case.

Fillers from table salt:
Use canning and pickling salt or a salt that has no additives.


How Do I Recognize if My Food Has Spoiled?

You will want to examine each jar very carefully prior to using it. First check to see that the vacuum seal is present. Do not use any food product that shows signs of having spoiled or if the lid is unsealed. Spoilage produces gasses that cause the lids to swell and/or break the seal. Canned food that is sealed with a lid that does not require a can opener to pry it off must not be used. Also, visually examine your jars for other signs of spoilage which could be present.

Signs of possible Spoiled Food:

*Broken Seals
*Seepage
*Mold
*Yeast Growth
*Gassiness
*Fermentation
*Cloudiness
*Slime
*Spurting Liquid
*Disagreeable Odors

Your home canned foods that are showing signs of being spoiled need to be disposed of in a way that no person or animal will come into contact with the food. Canning jars that are suspected of containing spoiled low-acid or tomato products have to be handled very carefully. Spoiled vegetables, meats, poultry, seafoods, and tomato products must be detoxified to prevent any possible contamination from botulism that could be present. To detoxify the food, jar, lid, and band, place all of the items into a deep pot. It is not necessary to remove the food from the jar. Carefully cover all items with 1 to 2 inches of water. Cover the pot. Bring the water to a boil and boil for 30 minutes. Be careful not to splash water or food outside of the pot. Allow the contents of the pot to cool. Discard all of the contents of the pot.

To clean the surfaces that came into contact with the suspect food you will need to use a solution of chlorine bleach and water (1 part chlorine bleach to 5 parts water). Allow the cleaning solution to stand for 5 minutes before rinsing. Dispose of sponges, hand towels, and dishcloths that were used in the detoxifying process.

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