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Water bath canning problems and Solutions for beginners

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Water bath canning can feel a bit overwhelming but knowing potential problems and solutions upfront can make it easier.

There’s not a better time to learn to preserve food at home. And water bath canning also referred to as the boiling water method is a great place to start. But with starting anything new, there is a learning curve.

Since I’ve been doing it for a while, I’m often asked some really great questions. So I’ve compiled several beginner water bath canning problems and solutions together that you may find helpful.

There are, of course, some safety procedures that should be followed. Make sure that when you are doing your home canning research you gather your water bath canning times and water bath canning recipes from a reputable site such as The National Center for Home Food Preservation.

Water bath canning problems and solutions for beginners

No matter if you grow your own harvest or buy it in bulk from the farmer’s market, doing your own food preservation is worth the effort. Not only will you save money, but your family will be eating real food and be healthier for it.

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Since I’ve been canning and preserving for several years, I thought I knew a lot about canning, but I recently got my hands on a great book, The Farm Girls Guide to Preserving the Harvest written by Ann Accetta-Scott.

I will say with great confidence, this is the most thoroughly written home preserving book I’ve read so far. And trust me, my library of canning books is rather large. I’ve made a list of my favorites further down.

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Not only does Ann cover water bath canning, but she also goes in-depth in pressure canning, freezing, dehydrating, curing and smoking meats & fish, and fermentation, and even freeze-drying!

I’ve tried my best to answer some of the common questions I get about water bath canning today, but, I would highly recommend you get this book too.

If you are interested in a simple step-by-step, how-to can, and how to control canning catastrophes, this book is a must for your homestead library.

Learn everything you need to know about preserving and canning the harvest. Hidden Springs Homestead
Find all your water bath canning problems and solutions inside this book plus a lot more!

Whether you are new to home preservation or have been doing it for years you’ll learn so much from this book, I know I have.

The answers to each of the following questions are my words. But I’ll say it again, for a more in-depth helpful manual The Farm Girls Guide To Preserving The Harvest it’s a must-have! Let’s get started:

1) What does water bath canning mean?

Essentially water bath canning is done in a very large pot that will hold up to 7-quart jars at a time. It is deep enough to allow them to be submerged and covered by a minimum of 2″ of water.

A water bath canner includes a rack for holding the jars in place and keeping them off the bottom of the pot.

Foods that contain high amounts of acid or the recipe incorporates the correct balance of acid, can be safely water canned. Foods such as:

2) what is the purpose of water bath canning?

This is a safe way of preserving fresh foods for long shelf life or storage.

It involves completely submersing filled jars of food into boiling water for a specific period of time, depending on the food item.

Water bathing drives out the air in the food and in the jar to prevent spoiling. It gets hot enough to kill spores of E-coli, Salmonella, and other pathogenic bacteria that might be present.

The heat will drive out all air and form a vacuum that causes the mason jar to seal.

Be sure to follow the canning process steps closely as well as the water bath canning time of whatever recipe you are water boil canning.

3) Is it necessary to sterilize canning jars?

The short answer is yes. Even new mason jars are not sterile. The boiling water will kill any bacteria or spores that may be on the jar itself.

In your research, you may come across several ways of “sterilizing jars” such as in the dishwasher or oven, in the microwave, or oven, and on the stovetop.

The only approved method is by completely submerging in boiling water. Not any of these other methods are approved, so I wouldn’t recommend them.

Using mason jars for water bath canning Hidden Spring Homestead

4) How do you sterilize Canning Jars?

To sterilize jars they should be completely submerged or covered by boiling water. Here is a step-by-step how to sterilize canning jars.

5) Why do canning jars break in a water bath?

There are several reasons canning jars break, also known as Mason jar thermal shock, in a water bath, a few of the most common reasons are:

  • Jar is too cool when it was placed into a hot canner of water
  • The jar was too hot and the water inside canner was to cool when it was submerged
  • The jar was already cracked or weak and the hot temperature of the water caused it to break
  • If the rack that comes with the canner is not inside, the jars will break since too close to the heat source
  • Using low quality commercial jars such as mayonnaise jars or pickle jars
  • It’s possible the lid was put on too tight – all canning recipes specify “finger tight”
  • If you put hot foods into cold jars this can cause them to crack or break too

Keep in mind that as strong as Mason jars are, they do weaken over time. And a weak mason jar can break in boiling water.

It’s easy to pick up recycled jars at thrift stores and yard sales. I know if you are trying to live frugally, it does save money. I’ve done it, just be careful with used jars.

But be sure to check the rims closely, on both recycled and new jars, for chips or cracks. If a canning jar has a chip or crack, it is not safe for canning.

You can recycle it for storing dehydrated herbs and such, so don’t throw it out.

6) What happens if a jar breaks during canning?

You most likely will not know it is broken until the timer has ended. This is a good thing actually.

All that will happen is the jar will break and you may end up with food floating in the water. This is ok, because the other jars are closed and will not be affected. Just take them out of the canner and then clean up the broken jar and food.

Do not use this food because it could have glass in it. It should be tossed out into the compost or trash. Don’t feed it to pets or farm animals either.

7) Can you boil canning jars without a rack?

I think this is the most common question I’m ever asked. I’m sure it is because finding a water bath canner at a yard sale or thrift store without the rack is not unusual.

But unfortunately, you must have a rack or some type of surface to keep the jars off the direct bottom of the canner.

This is for 2 reasons: 1) the water is able to boil and circulate all the way around the jars and 2) the heat source is too hot to be in direct contact with the glass jar.

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Even though canning jars are tempered, too much heat can still cause them to crack.

If you don’t have the rack that comes with your water bath canner, you can make one that will work. Sharon at Simply Canning has some really good ideas from her readers you can take a look at.

I also came across this tutorial for one made out of aluminum foil that would work. Just make sure it is thick enough to allow the water to circulate around your jars.

8) When should I start timing hot water bath?

Once the canner is full, set the heat to the highest temperature and place the lid on your water bath canner. When it comes to a boil, set your timer once it begins to boil.

If for some reason the water bath stops boiling, make sure the canner has enough water, bring it back to a boil, and restart the timer. It is important that your garden’s harvest is “boiled” the full time your canning recipe requires.

9) How long does it take for canning jars to seal?

Depending on what you are canning, it could take up to an hour or more for jars to seal. Mine often ping as soon as I take them out of the water with my jar lifter. But not always.

If you remember, I had mentioned that canning forms a vacuum and removes all the air from both the jar and the food inside the jar. Some jars may lose all the air during water boil and others may not.

Once the timer ends, gently remove jars from the canner and place them on a towel or cutting board on the counter.

I don’t advise you to put them directly on the counter surface. Remember, the jar is very hot and the counter is cool. This could cause your jar to break.

The jars will continue to boil inside, removing the air. Once all of it has been removed, the jar lid will vacuum seal to the rim and will make a ping sound which means it is sealed.

Resist touching them and leave them undisturbed for 24 hours. Over this time, enjoy counting the pings that are taking place in the kitchen.

10) How do you test home canned jars for proper seal?

If your canning jar did not pop or ping after cooling, you can test the seal in a couple of different ways:

1) By pressing down on the center of the jar lid. It should not pop up when pressed. A well-sealed lid will remain down. If it pops, the jar is not sealed.

2) Carefully remove the metal ring and pull on the lid with your fingers to check for a seal. It should be well stuck to the rim. If not, the jar is not sealed.

Canning lids have a special sealant that is designed to seal the rim of the Mason jar. This special sealant is why lids cannot be reused. Only the ring and jar can be reused.

11) What do i do if a jar doesn’t seal after canning?

You have a couple of choices depending on what you are canning.

1) You serve up the food for dinner that day. I’ve done this a couple of times.

2) You can put it in the refrigerator and use it within a couple of days. I’ve done this as well.

3) Place the jar in the freezer and leave it until you are ready to eat it. Foods can be frozen in mason jars.

4) You can reprocess the unsealed jar – here’s how:

  • Check the jar rim for a chip or crack to maybe figure out why it did not seal
  • If necessary, replace the jar with a new one and use a new canning lid as well
  • Adjust the headspace a bit to make if larger
  • Follow the canning recipe precisely and reprocess the jar in the water bath canner for the proper amount of time (this will not harm your food to reprocess)

Honestly, I have never reprocessed a jar. My family is quick to finish it off and I’m ok with this. It’s just one less jar that goes onto the pantry shelves.

I realize we have covered a lot of information. But I don’t want you to feel overwhelmed. When you are beginning to do home canning, water bath canning problems and solutions can feel a bit scary.

Don’t let it be. I remember my first time, it was stressful, but I think this is with anything we try.

She makes every step of the way very simple and easy to understand. You’ll love adding it to your homestead canning library.

I’m also here to help to guide you along the way. Feel free to reach out any time.

Simple Water Bath Canning Recipes:

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64 thoughts on “Water bath canning problems and Solutions for beginners”

  1. I made 2 batches of Apple Cider Jelly. I processed both of them and half of them have set after waiting 48 hours but the other batch is still watery. Can I reprocess the jars or should I redo them completely? Thanks for any advice.

    1. HI Nancy,

      I’d recommend redoing them completely. Did you use pectin or what did you use to get them to set. I’d add a bit more to help them thicken up

  2. Hi Diane!
    I canned some diced tomatoes tonight but I realized I did a number of things wrong- beginner canner moves lol! I had first put the jars on the side without a bottom rack, I forgot to put the lid on while they were processing for most of the time, and when I stood the jars up, they are not covered with 1-2″ of water as my pot is not large enough. The water is touching the lid though. I processed for longer time but I am wondering if I should throw these out, or if I can freeze them once they cool? Thank you!

    1. Hi Cheryl,

      I applaud you for trying! Many readers I talk with are afraid to take the step, so kudos to you!

      The purpose of a jar being canned upright, on a rack covered with water and a lid is so that the food inside can processed to remove all the bacteria, that can cause it to spoil or produce botulism. With it upright, this allows the bubbles to exit the jar via the lid that is not yet sealed. So with processing it on it’s side, the bacteria’s were not able to escape adequately. The lid helps for the heat to stay inside the canner so it can heat up to 212°F to kill anything foreign in or on the food being processed. Cooking longer was a good idea, but since the lids were not covered, it still isn’t processed properly.

      So your question – if you can let it cool and freeze them – YES! I’d highly recommend you do so. This will ensure that your food is stored safely and will be safe to eat and not spoil. So don’t throw these out.

      We only learn by our mistakes and again kudos for trying. I would recommend that you get a water bath canner since you don’t have one or at least a large stock pot that is deep enough to cover your jars with water. You can fold and add a towel to the bottom of a large stock pot if it doesn’t have a rack. This is the water bath canner I use, I’ve had it for years. Its an investment, but so worth it if you plan on canning more. It will pay for itself with home canned foods.

      Feel free to contact me with any more questions you have, I’m happy to help. And thank you for reading my article.

      Does this help?

  3. Is there such a thing as a canner pot being too big for the stove? I bought one that is big and I can’t get my water to boil after 90 minutes. I have an electric stove and not certain if that makes a difference.

    1. Hi Angie,

      There should not be. What canner did you buy? The pot can be bigger than the eye, but the eye shouldn’t be more than 4 inches smaller. So if your canner is 12 inches in diameter, you’ll need to use your large stove eye which is 12 inches or close to it. I assume this is a water bath canner, so when you start the water, turn your stove coil on HIGH and you’ll need to put the lid on for it to boil, it will not boil without it.

      Also, is your stove a newer stove? Is it a glass top or a coil eye stove – this makes a difference?

      If it is a coil eye, does it have the small center cap that flexes? If so, this is a “cut-off” to keep things from over-heating or burning and it what is preventing your canner from boiling. You can buy a standard replacement that doesn’t have this in it. Its commonly called a “canning eye.” Here is one from Amazon. You can also pick one up at Lowe’s, Home Depot, etc. I use one on my front right coil eye for canning. You’ll need to make sure the box lists your stove model on it.

      Also, a tip, before I start preparing my vegetables, I go ahead and put water and clean jars in the canner and turn them on to begin heating while I am prepping the vegetables. So this makes it, not only boil faster once the jars are filled and inside, but the jars are hot to fill which helps give them a better chance of sealing.

      I hope this helps. If not, let me know, I’ll get you some pictures. I would like to know what canner and what stove you have. I’ve never heard this happening.

      Keep in touch,

  4. Thank you so much for this information! Very helpful! Canning gives me a bit of Anxiety! I always am concerned if it’s safe or not. Now, when I was boiling my tomato sauce for 35 min I noticed some of the water evaporated. Just below the lid. I kept filling with boiling water from my kettle and the water never stopped boiling. That’s ok right?

    1. Hi Lisa,

      Its normal for some of the water to evaporate. As long as you filled the canner with water 2 inches above the jars and left the canner lid on without removing it, you should be fine.

  5. I water bath canned tomato-basil soup tonight. I processed it for the recommended time (35 min plus 15 min for my altitude adjustment) and when it was done half the water was gone out of the canner! I’ve never had that happen before! I always make sure I have the right amount 1-2” over the tops of the jars. The jars are sealing, I hear the pop of the lids, so will this soup be safe to consume?

    1. Hi Anita,

      I’m not sure what happened. But that said, I’d recommend reprocessing with new jars. I’m sure you don’t want to hear this, but the water coverage makes sure that all the food inside is not exposed to less than boiling temperatures. If you reprocess within 24 hours all should be fine.

      1. Thank you – glad to see I had 24 hours, somebody else told me it had to be within 2 hours and I was not about to toss out all my tomato sauce after all the back-breaking work it took to get bushels of tomatoes cleaned up, de-seeded, cooked down, milled to remove skins, etc.!!

  6. This thread is great! So I completely missed adding the most important ingredient to my salsa… vinegar! Can I just add vinegar to the batch and reprocess using the same lids within 24hrs? Thank you!

    1. Hi Shelby,

      Oh no! But honestly I’ve done it as well. You can add the vinegar and cook it as the recipe calls for again and then reprocess, but you’ll need to use new lids.

  7. Dianne–
    My husband and I have been doing lots of canning and love it! However, today were doing granny Smith apples for baking. We had problems with the jars trying to float during the processing. We were careful about the headspace, removing bubbles, and had a full canner, but they still came to the surface. Any ideas on what to do differently and if they are okay? Thanks!

  8. Darn it but I’m confused and frustrated. My jars don’t stay upright in the rack in the canner. When I put empty jars between them, the jars touch which I’ve read is not something that is good. Further, my 1/2 pint jars go right through the rack to the bottom of the pot. I’ve put a face cloth on the bottom and then the rack on to of that so 1/2 pint jars don’t directly touch the bottom of the canner. What else can I do? PLEASE!!!

    1. Hi Cherie,

      In a water bath canner your jars should be covered by 1-2 inches of water. So the empty ones can be filled and covered with water which will hold them down. I’m not sure where you read not to allow jars to touch in the canner. As far as I know, its fine for jars to touch. Now they shouldn’t touch when cooling on the counter after processing.

      When I fill mine they are always touching. I have an older enamel ware canner from Ball. It holds 9 pints and 7 quarts and they are touching when it’s filled.

      As for your 1/2 pint jars, I’m not sure. I’ve not had this problem. But I would think you could put a thin towel or cheesecloth on over the rack and then place your jars on it. This should hold them in place. You’ll want to pack them in tight and again, it’s OK if they touch.

      Does this help?

  9. I’ve just made blueberry preserves for the first time. During the water bath, one of the six jars turned on its side. They all have sealed. Is everything ruined since the jar turned over?

    1. Hi Judi,

      As long as that jar is sealed, you are ok. I’ve had it happen as well. But I started putting in empty jars, without lids in the canner, to help hold things in place. This doesn’t affect the canning run at all. I love blueberries, by the way.

      Happy canning,

  10. Hello, we made and water bathed salsa. My husband forgot to make sure there was water over the jars. I think the water was close to the top but not over. The jars all sealed. Are they okay?

    1. Hi Rona,

      The water should be at least 1 inch over the jars for recipes less than 30 minutes then 2 inches for recipes over 30 minutes. There is no recommendation for water bathing, with water being too low. Its purpose is to have the jar contained in a boiling 212 degrees temperature to sterilize to make it safe and shelf stable. The good news is that you can “reprocess” the jars within 24 hrs. You’ll need to pour the salsa into a large pot to heat it back up, pour it into heated jars as before, and then use “new” lids, not the ones that have been sealed already. Process for the full-time the recipe calls for.

  11. Hi I’ve canned some peaches. They went in the water bath canner with 1/4 inch headspace and come out with Over an inch as some syrup leaks out while boiling. Is this normal?

    1. Hi Johanna,

      What has happened is called siphoning. It occurs when extreme temperatures meet. So possibly the canning jars were not hot enough or the peaches – and then went into the canner of hot water. But the good news is, as long as the jars are sealed, they are safe to eat. They are just not pretty on the shelf, but safe.

  12. Hi there! I could not find Ball lids this year, so went with what the store had, Denali lids. However, when water bath-ing, the Denali lids popped UP, like the pressure inside the jar was too much and it expanded, with two little upward angles on the downslope of the inner edge of the lid. I still had some Ball lids from last year that were in the same bath, and they did not pop up.
    I am not done canning, so I can re-do those jars, but I am really worried about using the new lids! Everything popped back down once cooled, and everything seams sealed, but I am curious as to what you think?

    1. Hi Lindsay,

      I’ve not used the Danali personally, but I have read mixed reviews about them. It is frustrating that we aren’t able to find Ball lids that we trust.
      All that said, you can reprocess them within 24 hours using the same process. So don’t cut down on time.

  13. I have water bath canned some figs for jam…the last jar was not full – about 2/3 full (pint) and didn’t have any smatler jars–i went ahead and did the waterbath boil as before. Will this hold up to storage or not? Thank You.

    1. Hi Edwina,

      Yes. As long as you processedtotal full time of the recipe, the jar not full will be ok for storage. The idea of headspace is to give room, so a larger headspace is ok.

  14. I attempted canning pickles today. They were placed in a water bath for 15 min. I was checking them all for a proper seal. A few of the jars were not but when I pushed down it made them seal ( they didn’t pop back up) Since it was force sealed, because I pushed down on the lid is it still safe and is it a proper seal?

    Thank you

    1. Hi Amy,

      I’m curious if you started your timer AFTER the water came to a moving boil. It almost sounds like one of two things: either the contents of the jar didn’t get hot enough, or the lids are defective. Unfortunately, they are not properly sealed since they didn’t seal on their own. At this point, you can either reprocess them with new lids if it’s been less than 24 hours, OR you can refrigerate them and eat them within a few weeks. If you choose to reprocess, the 15 min timer should start once the water comes to a moving boil.

  15. I canned mangos today and my syrup was warm not hot, but all of my jars popped after they came out of the water bath so I know that they have sealed. Should I be concerned? I have not room in my fridge or freezer unfortunately to store them.
    Thank you.

    1. Hi Dee,

      As I’m sure you know, there is no safe, proven recipe for canning mangoes. Therefore it is done on your own. But that said, water bathing is the correct process for their acidity level. Did you add lemon juice to the jars? If so, and the water was warm, and you processed them the full 15 minutes for pints or 20 for quarts plus your elevation, they should be ok. I’ve never canned them myself; they are rare here in Tennessee and very expensive when you find them.

  16. Hi,
    I’m new to canning so I’m not sure if my figs will be ok. I canned them whole in syrup, and when I finished it looked as if some of the syrup leaked into the water bath cause the water was discolored (purple like the figs). The recipe said to finger tighten the jars before placing in the bath so I’m thinking it wasn’t tight enough? I’m waiting to see if I have good seals but can you tell me how tight the lids should be when placing in the water bath and if these would be ok if water got into the jar?

    1. Hi Jackie,

      This is a great question. I can think of a couple of different answers. First, it sounds like you followed the recipe exactly, which is good. Fingertight is tight enough. The food inside the jars will boil during the processing, and some of the juices will seep out of the lid. This is why it is put on only fingertight. Otherwise, the jar could bust inside the canner. So I would not be too alarmed by the color of the water.

      The other thing I can think of is ‘possibly’ the jars were a bit overfilled with liquid, maybe not exactly what the recipe called for. But then, there again, it would seep out during processing. So, wait to make sure the jars seal, and if so, GREAT!! Then just wipe the sticky jars down with a wet cloth, remove the ring, label and store them on the shelf. If a jar does not seal, put it inside the refrigerator and use it within 2-3 days.

  17. First time canning lilac jelly. It appears all the seals took but there is a little water moving at the surface even though it appears the rest of the jelly gelled. Is this water ok??

    1. Hi Theresa,

      Congratulations on the Lilac Jelly! I’ve never made it; I don’t have access to any flowers, but I would love to. For your question – Yes. As long as the jar is sealed properly and you processed it for the full recipe time – it is good. The water will not hurt the jelly or you.

  18. Susan Goodrich

    Can I safely paint enamelware pot and rack for canning and will it safe enough to withstand the heat ?

    1. Hi Susan,

      I would advise against painting it. I’m not sure why you want to or feel like you need to. If it is discolored or such, this will not interfere with how it works. Mine is terrible, especially the rack.

  19. Just wondering if you ever had problems with bits of the finish on the waterbath canning pot floating in the water after you sterilized your jars? My water has some minerals in it and I have some rust on the pot and the rack but what I am seeing in the water this year is bits of black from the pot in the jars when i pull them out so i have to rinse out the jars. Wondering if there is any way to refinish the pot or do I need a new one?

    1. Hi Linda,

      It sounds like your canner may need to be replaced. If it is a granite ware, these are pretty inexpensive. You can find them for around $40 or less. It will come with a new rack as well. The racks do need to be changed out once they get rusty. Racks can also be purchased separately, but you’ll probably need to order it. I like this one as a replacement. But measure to make sure it fits.

  20. HI Diane,

    I hope you have a spare moment to help me:) I Google first, but could not find an answer to my issue. I’m a first time water bath canner. My first round of water canning went fine, but when I canned another three pints of tomato sauce, I found by the next day, that the sauce had expanded and was stuck to the top of the jar lid, there was no more headspace, and I can see areas of foamy bubbles. All the jars have a successful seal. I had followed normal protocol: Added citric acid, measured the headspace, cleaned the jar rims, had sterilized the jars, removed air pockets, put hot sauce into hot jars etc, boiled for 35 minutes…

    The only thing I did differently, is that I lined the bottom of the water pot with a thin tea towel as I had discarded a makeshift rack I had made which I used when water bath canning the first batch. At the end of the boiling session, I did find that one of the jars had fallen over sideways in the pot of boiling water. I only had three jars in the large pot, which gave them room to wobble around. Please let me know what I did wrong if you know. I want to avoid this in the future. Much gratitude for your help.

    1. Hi Geeta,

      Firstly, congratulations on your first water bath canning event!! I’m excited for you!!!

      Don’t panic! All is well I promise! Most likely without seeing the jars up close, a couple of things have taken place. 1) The tea towel on the bottom was most likely too thin, but this does not harm your sauce. The jars should be approximately a 1/8″ or so off the bottom to allow for the water to “circulate” around all sides of the jars. You can line the bottom of your canner with “jar rings” and these will work well next time. 2) Since the canner was not full, and a jar had fallen over, the likely culprit is – during processing, water got into the jars and took away from the head-space you had left. This neither will harm the food. A way to fix this next time is to put inside the canner empty jars filled with water to hold all the filled jars in place. They don’t need lids, just jars of water.

      Go ahead for safety reasons, refrigerate these 3, and eat them within the next couple of weeks. There is nothing wrong with them, but since they have no headspace, I would rather be safe. They are sealed and this is good, but again, I would use these first.

      Let me know if this helps and if I can help with anything else. I’m an email away.

      Happy Canning,

  21. My wife and I are canning some tomatoes and we didn’t have quite enough to fill a couple of the jars all the way. There’s probably an inch or more of air. We tried boiling the jars anyway and one was of them the seal popped open and a bunch of water got in the jar. Is that ruined? The other one didn’t pop open but still has a lot of air. In it. Is this ok to keep?

    1. Hi John,

      The 2nd one, that is sealed but has a lot of air in it – Yes, it is totally good – If you full “rolling -boil” processed the tomatoes for over 10 minutes, the jar, the contents and all are sterilized and bacteria safe for a shelf life.

      The one that did pop open, I’m curious if just maybe the ring was not on “finger tight”? The tomatoes are safe to eat now – go ahead and make some homemade stew or something for supper and eat that jar tonight. It will not keep since it did not seal.

      Another option is if you have another run to can today – you can pour that jar back into the stock pot, mix it in with the others and then run them through another process. It will not hurt for them to be re-processed with another bath of tomatoes.

      Does this help?

  22. Faye Stansberry

    I am new to canning. I water bath salsa yesterday. I brought my water to boil in the canner, but forgot to set the timer. I thought it had been 15 minutes, which the recipe called for. But I wasn’t certained. The jars all sealed, but I am worried if it is safe to keep these 5 jars of salsa.

    1. Hi Faye,

      If they sealed they should be ok if they sealed. You have added lemon juice to help with acidity. I’d recommend you keeping them in the frig and eating them really soon, just to be safe. In case there is a next time, so you know, it is better to process additional time rather than not long enough.

  23. Hi,

    I have a big non-stick pot. Can I put the jars in this to sterilize, or do I need a stainless steel or enamel pot? I’m interested in making apple jelly (if it makes a difference).

    Thanks for all of the wonderful information!

    1. Hi Lynne,

      Yes, you can sterilize them in a big non-stick pot if it will get hot enough. Many non-sticks prevent heat penetration which makes things not stick. They do need to be completely submerged though. Curious, what will you be processing your apple jelly in? Do you have a water-bath canner for making the jelly? To process it you will need one and you can also use it to sterilize your jars. I use this one. (affiliate link) It’s deep enough to completely submerge so the whole jar gets really clean.

      1. Hi Dianne,

        I hope to use my non-stick pot (which I normally use for chili) to boil the jars before and after filling with jelly. It is my only pot tall enough to cover the jars with water.

        I made a test batch of jelly in a heavy pot that says,
        “PACT 5-ply copper
        R05U” on the bottom. Last time I put the jelly in a glass dish and kept it in the fridge, but this time I’d like to make more for family and friends. I’ve never done any canning before so I just wanted to check that I’m not going to give the people I love food poisoning!

        Therefore instead of a water-bath canner I hope to use the non-stick pot. How can I tell if the non-stick pot gets hot enough? If the water is boiling is that hot enough?

        Thanks again,

  24. Good morning I have a question is making salsa and it said process my jars for 40 minutes which I did the thing is as soon as I took them out of the canner they were already sealed are they still good I did all the previous steps everything was fine but I was just wondering do they come out of the hot water bath sealed sometimes already thank you very much

    1. Hi Debbie,

      Great question and the answer is yes. They can sometimes come out of the water bath already sealed. The water bath is not only cooking the food and killing bacteria inside, it is removing air from the jar as well. The lid will seal once all the air has been removed, so this can happen at times inside the canner. If you are using a safe salsa recipe and you followed instructions – they should be just fine.

    1. Hi Rose Mary,

      This is a great question and I know it is disappointing too. But, the good news, this does not affect the tomatoes. The reason it does this is because when canning whole tomatoes, they will have extra juices inside them that comes out during processing. I have this happen too. All canners will experience this.
      I know they don’t look pretty on the shelf, but the flavor is still there. After they have cooled and sealed, you can shake them up if you prefer.

  25. My parents would put dishtowels at the bottom of the pan and in between the jars to prevent breaking.
    Info on amounts of sugar/salt/vinegar etc per kg of produce and amounts of time boiling needed would be nice.
    I like your warning on thermale breaking, it’s fundamental. Cheers!

    1. Hi Riekje,

      I can remember my granny using a towel too. I hope you grabbed the free canning guide while you where on the post. The amounts of sugar/salt/vinegar and boiling times will vary depending no what you are canning. Since this book contains no recipes, those are not included. But, each of my canning recipes for various foods does include this information.

      Yes! The breaking of jars. I’ve had it happen to me and it’s a mess. Not fun to clean up. Let me know if I can help you with recipes.

      Happy Canning,

  26. Hi,
    I want to try canning my apricots from my tree, and maybe plums too. Am I able to can them without adding sugar? I really didn’t want the added sugar unless it is a must.
    Also this may sound silly, but as far as the lids, would they be put in to boil with the jars, or do I wash them by hand?
    Thanks for your help 🙂

    1. Hi Nanette,

      These are great questions. No question in my mind is silly except the one that was not ask. I learn by asking all kinds of questions – all the time.
      I have never canned apricots or plums. But I do know that you can use Stevia in place of sugar when canning. It is a natural sweetener and heat stable. It does taste a bit different than regular sugar, but much more healthier for you. I did some digging and came up with a couple links you can take a look at to start researching using it.

      I use Stevia in place of sugar for everything. Cooking, baking, canning, all. It is much sweeter than sugar, so do a trial run with it before you use all your fresh apricots and plums.

      Here are the links for you: This one from questions ask at Oregon State ad this one from EHow

      I hope these will help.

      For the question on the lids – No, I wouldn’t put them in with the jars. Put them in a small pot of water and get it hot just to soften the rubber gasket – “don’t boil them” though. I use a little 1 qt pan and keep it on the back stove eye with lids in it and take one at a time out as I need it using a pair of tongs.

      I’d love to hear out they turn out. BTW – be sure to remove the pits before you can with them.

      Happy Canning,

    1. Melanie, This is awesome! You’ll love how easy it is. I am actually writing a post on exactly how to make sauerkraut now. It will be put on my blog later in the week. Mine has been fermenting since 5/31 and it is smelling wonderful! When you try it, I’d be glad to answer any questions if you have any. Feel free to reach out.

      Happy fermenting,

  27. Karen Merhalski

    I have never canned pickles before and would love to have your recipe. I am growing the pickle cucumber this year in the hopes of making pickles. I love and enjoy all of your articles and pictures on Facebook.

    1. Hi Karen,

      I’m not ignoring you. I saw your comment yesterday morning about 6 am. I tried attaching the link to an answer back – but for whatever reason, it wouldn’t work. And then I rushed out to be at the hospital with my grandson to have surgery, and honestly didn’t get back on all day yesterday. I apologize.

      This morning, links are still not working, I’ll get it fixed, but in the meantime – you can go to my site homepage and at the top right corner – there is a little “blue looking glass” for search. Click it and type in Dill Pickles – it will up my dill pickle recipe. Sorry I can’t provide the link.

      I’m working on getting by Bread and Butter pickles recipe. Hope to have it up in next few days.

      Happy Canning,

  28. Sally Gearhart

    Last year we tried canning pickles for our first attempt ever and some were good and some were soggy. I love gardening and would love to learn to canning everything one day! I can’t wait to learn though.

    1. Hi Sally, It’s awesome that you tried! I hear from so many that are afraid to try. I’ve had soggy ones too, you just keep trying and keeping notes to what you do differently. Only failure is to stop trying. There is of course a Ball Pickle Crisp you can get and try too. It does work. I used it for several years. My mom always used it.

      I’m with you on the gardening. I love it too. When you get started and have a question, reach out, I’m happy to help.

      Happy Gardening,

  29. Awesome post! I love preserving the harvest on my homestead and I prefer dehydrating. I can sauce and jams currently but would like to really start canning this fall! Thanks for sharing! Great post! Will be sharing this one!

  30. This is a great article, for beginners or seasoned canners alike. It is music to my ears when the jars ‘pop’ as they are sealing, but I always wonder about the exact reason when they don’t. I think this would be a great book to have on my kitchen shelf, as well as a perfect gift for someone who is just starting out. Thanks, Dianne, for offering it in this giveaway!

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