Home Canning Troubleshooting Guide

If your home canning efforts haven't entirely met with success, try using this troubleshooting guide to resolve your specific problem and avoid others in the future.

| May/June 1980

  • 063 home canning - Fotolia - SKYLINE
    Home canning doesn't always go this well, but with a little troubleshooting help you should be able to overcome whatever problems you're having.

  • 063 home canning - Fotolia - SKYLINE

(Reprinted with permission from the Ball Blue Book (30th Edition), copyright © 1979 by Ball Corporation.

Now that most folks have their gardens in — and, in some areas, are already harvesting their first crop — it's time to think about putting up some of those delicious homegrown goodies . . . for year-round enjoyment and lower winter food bills.

Home canning food can be as easy as it is rewarding.

There are, however, some difficulties that occasionally plague even the most experienced canner. The troubleshooting guide below will tell you just what might have caused your past batches of preserved goodies to turn out not quite as you expected, and how to avoid similar preserving problems this summer.

Remember, too, that spoiled food should never be eaten. The most obvious signs of dangerous spoilage include gas bubbles and spurting liquid ... soft, mushy, slimy, or moldy food . . . cloudy liquid (or liquid with sediment in it) .. . leaking jars . . . bulging lids . . . and unnatural odors and colors.

For safety's sake, be sure to boil all of your canned low-acid foods at least 15 minutes before you taste them. If the liquid foams or if the food has an unnatural odor when it's heated in this manner, the dish is very likely to be spoiled . . . and should definitely be discarded!

Condition: Foods Darken in Top of Jar

CAUSE: Liquid did not cover food product.  

PREVENTION: Cover food product with liquid before capping jar. (See "Loss of liquid" reference.)

CAUSE: Food not processed long enough to destroy enzymes. 

PREVENTION: Process each food by recommended method and for recommended length of time.

CAUSE: Manner of packing and processing did not produce a high vacuum.

10/14/2014 4:29:29 PM

Hi, I hope you can help me. I canned Romas this year and it all went well until I noticed that the seeds inside the jar look like they are about to sprout! I am mystified, I have no idea what happened and if they are safe now. I used lemon juice and canned them in a hot water bath, and the seals are all fine. I don't want to lose all my hard work! Do I have to throw it all away?

10/7/2014 9:31:50 PM

I made canned pickled asparagus. How can I end up with firm spears instead of soft. Used a water bath canner

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