Brown Thumbs
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Canning question

My canning is limited, but I usually just boil the vinegar and pour over my peppers, then place the lid on it. After they sit on the counter a while cooling off the top pops and they're sealed. I remember my grandmother using a big pressure cooker and I've also read on here about the use of a water bath when canning vegetables. I just canned a pint of stewed tomatoes by cooking them down for approximately 15-20 minutes, pouring them into a clean jar, placed the lid on them, and the top popped as they cooled off. I hope that is an ok method. Just wondered if there was an advantage to using the boiling water method.
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Dillbert
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the guidelines have changed.
from https://nchfp.uga.edu/

Seasonal Hot Topics
Gardens are starting to produce those lovely, fresh vegetables. A pressure canner is needed to ensure safe low-acid canned foods. There are no safe boiling water canning options for vegetables, meats and seafood, soups and some other mixtures of foods.

the full guides are here
https://nchfp.uga.edu/publications/publications_usda.html

Brown Thumbs
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Marlingardener wrote:The "cold canning" method you used with your tomatoes used to be the favored method. However, many newer varieties of tomatoes don't have the acid content of the older ones, and a hot water bath canning method is recommended now.
I put tomatoes in the jar, add 1 tsp. of salt (it helps preserve color, but isn't absolutely necessary), pour boiling water into the jar, put on lids and rings, then place them in hot water in my big canner. When the water comes to a boil, I time it for 35 minutes, remove the jars and set them on a thick towel on the counter, and let them cool and enjoy the "pop" when they seal. The next day I take off the rings, wipe the jars and store them. The advantage to the hot water bath is that there is less liklihood of spoiling.
Pressure cookers are for non-acid vegetables like green beans and for any meat products like chili. We often freeze now what was pressure-canned in the past.
I'd sterilize the jars and lids for your peppers, but otherwise your method seems fine.
This is written by a woman who spent from 7:30 a.m. until 2 p.m. joyfully canning tomatoes. Steam bath, anyone?
You put hot water inside the jar with the tomatoes? I just peeled, cut up, and cooked them to a "mush" and put in the jar. Maybe I did something wrong cause I didn't add any water. These were all Better Boys, so I'm not sure on the acid amount. Does acid make them keep longer or something? I did add a dash of salt (table salt).

I won't be putting up many tomatoes; in fact this is the first time I ever tried. I just got several from a friend and my few turned all at once, and there's only so many mater sandwiches we can eat. :wink: I hate to see them go to waste and thought I'd try putting some up. I have no idea how we'll cook them, I assume it takes the place of tomato sauce in chili or spaghetti recipes???
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you may want to keep the jar in the fridge, even before you open it, to prolong shelf-life. i agree with others who fear you may not have enough vinegar content in there to not spoil at room temps.

-or salt. that would do something, too.

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You say you just boil the vinegar in canning peppers. Are you saying you use only vinegar as the brine? If so, that may make them pretty bitter in the long run.

I have found if cold packing things like peppers, okra, green beans, etc. the brine is more palatable if you pack the jars with the veggies, add just a bit more than 1/3 vinegar then finish filling the jar with water to top it off. Pour this in a pot, add whatever else you want like salt, hot pepper flakes, dill, etc. Bring this to a boil then pour it into the jars leaving about 1/4" of head space then prior to sealing the jars, tap the sides a bit to remove as much air as possible, then seal the jars.

Every once in a while a jar will not seal. If this happens, allow it to cool to room temperature and put in the fridge to be used first.

Brown Thumbs
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gumbo2176 wrote:You say you just boil the vinegar in canning peppers. Are you saying you use only vinegar as the brine? If so, that may make them pretty bitter in the long run.

I have found if cold packing things like peppers, okra, green beans, etc. the brine is more palatable if you pack the jars with the veggies, add just a bit more than 1/3 vinegar then finish filling the jar with water to top it off. Pour this in a pot, add whatever else you want like salt, hot pepper flakes, dill, etc. Bring this to a boil then pour it into the jars leaving about 1/4" of head space then prior to sealing the jars, tap the sides a bit to remove as much air as possible, then seal the jars.

Every once in a while a jar will not seal. If this happens, allow it to cool to room temperature and put in the fridge to be used first.
Well, the vinegar we have is diluted with water is says on the bottle. I've never added water. I can try the way you mentioned; put peppers and vinegar in pot to boil. I just wash them off, put in a jar, then pour hot vinegar over them. Then put the lid on and wait to hear the "pop".

For the tomatoes, how will I know if they're turning bad? They look just as vibrant as they did a week ago when I put them up, meaning very pretty color. Will they start loosing some color, etc. as a sign? I would also love a recipe to use them. It's only a pint jar full, so maybe a good vegetable beef or sketti recipe where I can use them...if anyone wants to share. I've never cooked with "real" tomatoes that were canned.
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Dillbert
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>>For the tomatoes, how will I know if they're turning bad?

you don't.
the really nasties are odorless, colorless, tasteless.

when you're in the hospital ICU next to death, you'll know you should have followed the recommended canning procedures more closely.

sorry to be such an SOB - but ignoring all the advice developed over the decades/centuries, please don't invite anyone to dinner and feed them your home preserves.

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Dillbert has said it: follow established canning procedures. The USDA and the Ball Canning Company are the two most highly regarded sources of information in this regard.

[url=https://nchfp.uga.edu/publications/publications_usda.html]USDA[/url]

[url=https://www.home-canning.com/]Ball Canning Company[/url] (site is also available in Canadian English and Canadian French, with metric measurements)

Cynthia H.
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cynthia_h wrote:Dillbert has said it: follow established canning procedures. The USDA and the Ball Canning Company are the two most highly regarded sources of information in this regard.

[url=https://nchfp.uga.edu/publications/publications_usda.html]USDA[/url]

[url=https://www.home-canning.com/]Ball Canning Company[/url] (site is also available in Canadian English and Canadian French, with metric measurements)

Cynthia H.
Sunset Zone 17, USDA Zone 9
Thanks so much! Wish I would've asked before putting them up, but that's my bad. Maybe I should just throw them out.
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Dillbert
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>>throw them out
small qty, yes. if it's a lot - start eating and keep the rest under refrigeration - use up/toss in 4-5 weeks.

here's the deal - it's called botulism.

botulism requires three things to thrive and multiply - and btw it's not the actual botulism spore that's the problem, it's the toxins they 'exude' when multiplying.....

- low acid
- low/no oxygen
- minor amount of moisture

aside from the acidity part, putting stuff in a sealed container creates that environment.

tomatoes of yesteryear were higher in acid. "modern" tomato varieties have been hybridized / selected / whatever for low acid traits. you're likely not dealing with your grandmother's tomato.

botulism spores are present in essentially all soils - it is not impossible that "your patch" has none, but it is exceedingly unlikely.

the reason the old boiling water bath method has been "outdated" by the pressure canning methods is:
botulism spores are killed at 240'F
water boils at 212'F (sea level)
only increasing the pressure will increase the temperature of the boiling water to the point it will kill the botulism spores. dead spores means no possibility to reproduce which means no side effect toxins.

tomatoes are only the beginning - because essentially no other vegetables have sufficient acidity to prevent botulism in the jar.

the pressure canning method works for less acid stuff.

meats, ditto.

pickling - pickling stuff inherently involves adding an acid - commonly vinegar.
more acid is good.
please note household / white / cider / red wine / etc vinegar is _not_ the same as pickling vinegar in terms of acidity.
vinegar is not vinegar - it is important to pay attention to the details.

"cold pack" has long been used and is good for short term stuff - example: refrigerator pickles kept for a couple weeks. weeks, not months.

there are many other "bad microbes" that a boiling water bath will kill and keep canned stuff from spoiling - but just not the really big bad guy.

refrigeration slow it down - but does not stop it - hence the "couple weeks" thing.

this is frequently a debate with "making my own infused oils"
herbs/garlic etc submersed in (olive) oil - ideal conditions.
kept refrigerated, ok for a couple weeks.
fresh herbs - rosemary/thyme/etc are the worst choice as they have just enough moisture to assist; garlic cloves are similar.
the commercial stuff is packed with acidifiers to ensure the pH is so low botulism cannot multiply. okay, but tricky to duplicate at home.

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thanx for your useful info

Brown Thumbs
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I checked the vinegar we have. It is called distilled white vinegar, reduced with water to 5% acidity. That's what I used with peppers.
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Dillbert
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one will not find universal agreement on the minimum acidity vinegar % for use in pickling/preserving.

the problem is the "recipes / methods" - the cook in brine, fill jars to x% then top off with "y" is the issue. old time "pickling vinegar" was generally around 10% acetic acid. since so few people can anymore, there's a limited market, and it can be tough to find "on the shelf"

what does seem to be consistent is the recommendation for a minimum of 2.5% acetic acid in the jar "as done, finished and sealed"

the math is simple: equal parts of 0% acid water + 5% acetic acid vinegar gets your there. pretty simple for pickling, less simple for canning vegetables - because the pH of vegetable does vary. one needs to err on the safe side.

a 5% vinegar is not a bad start. some "specialty" types are less than 3% - but Federal regulations say anything labelled "vinegar" must be at least 4%

this is a fairly simple blurb ref recommendations:
/q
USDA Acidification Methods
To ensure safe acidity in whole, crushed, or juiced tomatoes, add 2 tablespoons of bottled lemon juice or 1/2 teaspoon of citric acid per quart of tomatoes. For pints, use 1 tablespoon bottled lemon juice or 1/4 teaspoon citric acid. Acid can be added directly to the jars before filling with the product. Add sugar to offset acid taste, if desired. Four tablespoons of a 5 percent acidity vinegar per quart may be used instead of lemon juice or citric acid. However, vinegar may cause undesirable flavor changes.
/uq

peppers for example are less acidic than tomatoes.

tomatoes, depending on your "sources" are borderline. a pH of 4.6 is the usually accepted boundary between low acid / high acid "stuff" in terms of canning / preservation / botulism. any number of tomato varieties marketed to the home gardener are know to be less acidic than the 4.6 "magic mark" - most everything else has a higher pH than tomatoes - see the above cited guides.

ah, but wait, there's more!

canning tomatoes - if you've done it you know "dang there's a lot of water in tomatoes"
vs.
peppers - not so much water . . . .

it is important to follow the best guidelines. not only for acidity and methods - but also observe times and altitude issues. your tax dollars are actually paying for pinheads to test this stuff out, research and document "how long" it takes for the center of a quart jar to heat up"

without question stuff out of USDA / government is "overboard, just be be ultra safe" - however you will still find thousands of water bath canning recipes/methods/techniques/etc on the Internet. you will find people on the Internet insisting that's how my mother/grandmother/great-grandmother did it and nobody died. fortunate them. as I said earlier in specific cases like tomatoes, it ain't your granny's tomato anymore - and in other cases, one needs to ask "safe, or sorry?"

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