jerseyguy1996
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Canned tomatoes without the lemon juice - still good?

I canned some of my tomatoes a few weeks ago but I didn't know about the FDA recommendation of adding lemon juice to raise the acidity. Are these still safe to eat? I boiled the jars in a water bath for 15 minutes after cooking the tomatoes down. They were mostly roma tomatoes with a few beefmasters thrown in.

cynthia_h
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It sounds risky to me on a long-term basis. I'd either refrigerate or freeze them until use.

The processing time is only one of the factors in food safety; the others are acidity and cleanliness of the entire process--lids, jars, bands.

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Re: your canned tomatoes

I also canned tomatoes in August - Romas and Beefmasters. I would say to inspect each jar carefully before using it. If the jar has leaked, shows patches of mold or has a swollen lid or if there is a foamy or murky appearance to the tomatoes, discard both the tomatoes and the jar. When you open the jar, the odor should be pleasant. If it doesn't look or smell right, don't use it. Did your lids seal properly? If you got a good seal and the lids did not pop back up, it may be OK, but use caution.
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rainbowgardener
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But all of those responses are about other parts of the process than the lemon juice. 15 minutes sounds really short... they usually say 45 min and somewhere I read that if you are not using lemon juice it should be 85 min.

I've never added lemon to my tomato canning. Tomatoes are acid enough for water bath canning.

Here's a thread we had going this summer about how to can safely:

https://www.helpfulgardener.com/forum/viewtopic.php?t=28048&postdays=0&postorder=asc&highlight=canning+tomatoes&start=15
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Gary350
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I have NEVER added vinegar to tomatoes they already contain acid. I have been canning tomatoes for over 40 years and none of them have ever gone bad.

FDA recommendation is stupid you don't add vinegar to beans or corn and they DO NOT go bad when canned so WHY would anyone with a brain think tomatoes need to have vinegar added. DUH!!!

If tomatoes need vinegar added then so does corn, beans, peas and anything else you can.
Last edited by Gary350 on Fri Oct 15, 2010 12:25 pm, edited 2 times in total.

cynthia_h
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Gary350 wrote:I have NEVER added vinegar to tomatoes they already contain acid. I have been canning tomatoes for over 40 years and none of them have ever gone bad.

FDA recommendation is stupid you don't add vinegar to beans or corn and they DO NOT go bad when canned so WHY would anyone with a brain think tomatoes need to have vinegar added. DUH!!!

If tomatoes need vinegar added then so does corn, beans, peas and anything else you can.
Recipes for beans, corn, etc., don't generally call for vinegar or acid because it is well known that these vegetables MUST yes absolutely MUST be PRESSURE CANNED for safety and room-temp storage.

Tomatoes are one of the few vegetables that do not require pressure canning. This is because the standard tomato-canning recipes call for added acidity via citric-acid powder or lemon juice. Some of this is due to modern hybrid versions (or selected seeds) having less acidity than older versions of this veggie; some of it is due to a better understanding of food safety. I've been canning now for 25 years and have changed some of my own approaches based on new information. If I were to can tomatoes without any added acidity, I would PRESSURE CAN them.

When water-bath canning tomatoes, acidity and an obsession with cleanliness are key to food safety and storage. Pickled vegetables--which DO include ample quantities of vinegar--may also be water-bath canned safely when prepared according to a proven recipe.

Processing times vary according to the size of the canning jar. 15 minutes is often recommended for SOME recipes when using small (8-ounce) jars. If your tomatoes (this addressed to the original poster) are in pint, pint and a half, or quart jars, 15 minutes in a hot-water bath is inadequate. I know of no recommendations in hot-water-bath canning for only 15 minutes of processing for such large containers.

Again, don't just make up procedures as you go along. Use the Ball Blue Book, whatever its current incarnation may be called (but an Internet search of "Ball Blue Book + canning" will take you right to it), *or* the USDA recommendations for your own region (processing times for both water-bath and pressure canning vary with elevation).

Cynthia

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rainbowgardener
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Absolutely agree with cynthia! There is a difference between tomatoes and other veggies like beans and corn in acidity. That is why tomatoes can be water bath canned and other veggies MUST be pressure canned.
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Monarda
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My understanding is that food canned in a hot water bath needs to be acidic enough to keep Clostridium botulinum spores (also called Botulism spores) dormant. If the acidity is too low, the spores will mature and start producing a nasty toxin, but the food might not look or smell bad.

If your tomatoes aren't visibly spoiled, I would follow the US Center for Disease Control and Prevention's recommendation of boiling the food for 10 minutes before eating it, since boiling temps do destroy the toxin itself, though not the spores. With the growing popularity of low acid-tomatoes (as Cynthia mentioned), I would be inclined to follow the FDA guidelines, or pressure can them.

You can read the CDC's page on Botulism here:
[url]https://www.cdc.gov/ncidod/aip/research/bot.html#bot_prevention[/url]

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Re: Canned tomatoes without the lemon juice - still good?

I did the same thing today! It was my first time canning. And I read that part of the instructions after I put the tomato sauce in the jars! I canned salsa and tomato sauce with garlic and onion. I cooked everything down first, for the tomato sauce, but the salsa I added fresh cut onion and cilantro! But while hot. I canned them in a pressure cooker for a long time. For about 15 minutes after the little knob started wiggling. The I turned off the heat and they've all. When sitting in there. Do you all think they'll be safe to eat?

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applestar
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Re: Canned tomatoes without the lemon juice - still good?

You said you used a pressure cooker, right? I think that makes a difference (better), but there are specific recommended lengths of time and pressure. Hopefully folks who have more expertise than I do will respond.
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Re: Canned tomatoes without the lemon juice - still good?

I see all these posts that say you have to pressure cook certain foods. My mother never had a pressure cooker and she never had a problem with anything she canned including meats. Can i ask what has changed since she was canning. I am new to canning and would like to know the difference. Please and thank you.

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Re: Canned tomatoes without the lemon juice - still good?

mommanell71 wrote:I see all these posts that say you have to pressure cook certain foods. My mother never had a pressure cooker and she never had a problem with anything she canned including meats. Can i ask what has changed since she was canning. I am new to canning and would like to know the difference. Please and thank you.
Nothing has changed. Someone starts a rumor then everyone goes crazy. There is a new generation of people that have never canned food in mason jars. Some books use scare tactics to make you think you will die if you don't do it their way. Vinegar is a preservative an tomatoes contain vinegar so it can be water bath canned. Beans, corn, many other vegetables that contain no vinegar they are safer to can in a pressure cooker because it gets 15 degree hotter than water bath canning. My grand parents canned in mason jars, my parents canned in mason jars, my aunts & uncles all canned in mason jars, I have been canning in mason jars for 50 years. After canning the concave lids suck down tight the center is concave so you can see vacuum inside the jar sucked the lid down and it sealed. If you have a bad jar you will know it the concave lid will not suck down or pop up later. Bad food in the jar will turn a dark gray color, concave lid will pot up, remove the lid the food smells bad. Recommendations are to use a pressure cooker for all vegetables except tomatoes. If your canning low acid tomatoes use a pressure cooker, do not add vinegar or lemon juice that defeats the purpose for growing low acid tomatoes. If your worried your tomatoes & vegetables will go bad then pressure cook everything & cook longer than recommended There is no reason to boil clean jars, lids, rings, before they are used then boil again after food is sealed in the jar, you can not kill bacteria twice. This is common sense stuff.
Last edited by Gary350 on Wed Sep 12, 2018 3:26 pm, edited 2 times in total.

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applestar
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Re: Canned tomatoes without the lemon juice - still good?

I suppose one factor that might have changed are advanced technologies like digital/computer-aided image analyzing electron/electronic microscopes and their wider availability, making laboratory analysis of contamination more readily obtainable.

...personally, I also believe the older generations had been both more exposed to and grew up ingesting contaminants and bacteria and everyday germs, which meant their immune systems were more battle-ready than this generation’s. On the other hand, they were not forced to deal with superbugs that have mutated/evolved since their time. Contamination in our foods can be more dangerous than what they ever had.
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jal_ut
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Re: Canned tomatoes without the lemon juice - still good?

"FDA recommendation is stupid you don't add vinegar to beans or corn and they DO NOT go bad when canned so WHY would anyone with a brain think tomatoes need to have vinegar added. DUH!!!"

Ummmmm........ ever do any home canning? Or are you just shootin off your mouth?

Non acid foods are canned using a pressure cooker. The high heat guarantees sterility. Acid foods are often canned using a water bath canner. Yes the acid content does need to be up to a certain level to make them keep. Tomatoes are often just not quite acid enough, that is why a little lemon juice is added. Now if you want to pressure cook the bottled tomato juice then you won't need to add acid. I suggeat you get a good canning book and do some reading. Here the Agriculture College has an extension service with loads of canning info on it. Anything like that in your area?
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Gary350
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Re: Canned tomatoes without the lemon juice - still good?

jal_ut wrote:"FDA recommendation is stupid you don't add vinegar to beans or corn and they DO NOT go bad when canned so WHY would anyone with a brain think tomatoes need to have vinegar added. DUH!!!"

Ummmmm........ ever do any home canning? Or are you just shootin off your mouth?

Non acid foods are canned using a pressure cooker. The high heat guarantees sterility. Acid foods are often canned using a water bath canner. Yes the acid content does need to be up to a certain level to make them keep. Tomatoes are often just not quite acid enough, that is why a little lemon juice is added. Now if you want to pressure cook the bottled tomato juice then you won't need to add acid. I suggeat you get a good canning book and do some reading. Here the Agriculture College has an extension service with loads of canning info on it. Anything like that in your area?
We like the real flavor of garden vegetables, we never add anything that changes the flavor like, lemon juice, vinegar, salt, sugar, etc. Canning is basic common sense stuff, heat kills germs & bacteria, lids seal while being cooked, food is good in jars for many years. Pressure cook everything if your worried food will not be safe to eat.

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Re: Canned tomatoes without the lemon juice - still good?

When canning you should be using a tested canning recipe. Recipes usually come with a new canner. I have included a link to a Ball recipe site. You can also get the Ball canning book. A Chef told me that preserving recipes should not be something you experiment with because it requires following all sanitation, prep and sterilization procedures to guarantee a safe product. For the product to be shelf stable there needs to be a balance between acidity and saltiness. It is why you can't really make a salt free pickle. Water bath canning is the simplest but pressure canning is better at the higher temps for some products that go bad quickly. Make sure everything is labeled and dated and you use it promptly. Wax seals are not used any more because apparently they were not air tight. and the new lids can only be used once for canning. The recipes in the ball book have been tested to make sure the products remain safe to eat for a specified time. When you can at home, you are not going to test your batches to make sure you are not growing a science project in the jars, so it is better to follow all the procedures and recipes that have already been tested.
https://nchfp.uga.edu/tips/summer/home_ ... atoes.html
https://www.freshpreservinguk.co.uk/recipes
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