Common Canning Problems

Read about some canning problems and major canning sins to keep your food safe. You can always learn more when you contact your local cooperative extension office.

by Dani Yokhna

One of the best places to go for the latest canning and food preservation information–and to ensure food safety in your kitchen: your cooperative extension agent.

You can also read detailed articles on Canning Fruits and Vegetables by Sue Weaver and Preserving Fruits and Vegetables (including a recipe!) by Cheryl Morrison.

Common Canning Problems
Here’s a list of common canning problems compiled by the Clemson University Extension.

  • Loss of liquid from glass jars during processing
    This is not a sign of spoilage; do not open to replace liquid. However, if at least half of the liquid is lost, refrigerate the jars and use within two to three days.
  • Imperfect seal
    Discard food unless the trouble was detected within a few hours.  Canned food can safely be recanned if the unsealed jar is discovered within 24 hours.  To re-can, remove the lid and check the jar sealing surface for tiny nicks.  Change the jar if necessary; add a new treated lid and reprocess using the same processing time.
  • Product dark at top of jar
    Not necessarily a sign of spoilage.
  • Cloudy liquid
    Sometimes denotes spoilage.
  • Color changes that are undesirable
  • Sediment in jars
    Not necessarily a sign of spoilage.
  • Spoilage

  • Floating (especially some fruits)

For more on these problems, check out this page from the Clemson University Cooperative Extension Service.

Source: Extension Food Safety Specialist, Clemson University

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Do You Commit Canning Sins?
Utah State University Extension has a list of “Major Canning Sins,” including the following:
  • Learn to avoid canning problems for food safetyMaking up own canning recipe.
  • Adding extra starch, flour or other thickener to recipe.
  • Adding extra onions, chili, bell peppers, or other vegetables to salsas.
  • Using oven instead of water bath for processing.
  • Not making altitude adjustments.
  • Not venting pressure cooker first.
  • Not having gauge pressure canners tested annually.
  • Failure to acidify canned tomatoes.
  • Cooling pressure canner under running water.
  • Letting food cool before processing in the recipes that call for “hot pack.”

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