Sunday, July 31, 2011

Canning Frustration

As I gain more experience in canning fruits (IE peaches) and tomatoes, I notice I'm leaning more towards a condensed version of packing the jars.  

I've noticed that no matter how hard I try, if I just barely cook the peaches/tomatoes and pack them in (and I do shove them in), I still get ton's of extra space after processing. I poke. I stir. I shove.  I fill up to the 1/2 line before I put the lids on.  And this is what I get. 

(*Side by side comparison of normal canning verses the more cooked down condensed version.)

I'm not sure why this bothers me.  Is it simply aesthetics? Or is my frugal nature peeking through?  I mean, if I can spend some extra time cooking the peaches/tomatoes down more, prior to packing, than I seem to get a quart jar that is full top to bottom.

Take yesterday for example.  SM wanted more peach "slices" canned up.  (I like to cut up smaller chunks and cook them down a bit, almost like a chunky applesauce.)  SM had bought me another basket of peaches on Wednesday.  I blanched the entire basket yesterday morning.  Peaches where the skins slid off easily, I sliced up nicely and "hot packed" them up.  The greener peaches that I had to fuss with more to remove the skins, I cut up smaller and cooked them down a bit before I canned them up.

Even after stuffing and stirring the sliced peaches in the jars, I still have jars that have lots of wasted space in them. 

And look at how the liquid came down in the jars?  

How does this happen?  Is it still safe or should I refrigerate those jars and eat them quick? 

Signed: Paranoid in NC

*BTW...I made up some fresh salsa yesterday using  Linda's recommendation of Pioneer Woman Cooks Restaurant Style Salsa  It was very good.  SM gave it 2 thumbs up.  (He likes it HOT so I added extra jalapeno.)  This is for "fresh eating".  Not sure if you can "can" this recipe up or not.


  1. Tami - I'm no expert - in anyway what so ever. But I reckon the cooking process forces the juices out of the peaches, which would shrink them and cause the "space" to appear.

    But they look delicious... I'm salivating just looking at them.

  2. P.S. If you store them upside down then wouldn't that solve the air / lid problem...?!

  3. I have the same thing happen to my pears / apples.....if it makes you feel any better, it also drives me nuts.

  4. I'm not an expert by any means either, but I also think the space in the jars is normal. Loosing liquid in the jars could be the result of too rapid temperature changes during the canning or removing the lid before the canner has cooled and returned to zero pressure ON ITS OWN. That's not much liquid loss though. I've had a lot more, I must admit. They should still be fine to keep, unless there were any chunks forced under the lids that would prevent a good seal. You can check the seals to make sure they're firm before storing them away.
    By the way, do you like your canning lids? I'm planning to order some of those soon, so I'm interested in your thoughts on them.

  5. The peach slices have volume in the cells walls that work their way out during the proccessing that the cooked ones have already removed from the cooking process. Peaches are not a dense fruit.

    I do think they were processed a little to long, thats why so much liquid cooked out of the jar. It happens because air is meant to leave the jar during the time in the water bath. That is how the vacume seal is formed. More volume leaves the jar while hot due to expansion and when the air inside cools it sucks the lid on in a seal due to that loss. That is why you never crank a ring on tight, the air must escape during processing or you will blow a jar.

    No need to refrigerate if the seal is good, just try to eat those first in your rotation.

  6. What Jane said, LOL. I've been canning for a long time and it seems that anything with a high water content (peaches, tomatoes, figs, cucumbers, etc) ends up floating on top with extra liquid on the bottom. I don't like the look of it either, so my solution is to gently tip the jar back and forth to mix them up. This works so that the fruit sits more evenly in the jar.

    Regarding the loss of liquid in the jars, they're perfectly safe as long as the seal is good. I find that this usually happens if I don't leave the exact headspace called for in the recipe. If it calls for an inch headspace and I put in more (I'm always trying to stuff in as much food goodness as possible), I always seem to lose liquid. If I leave that inch, I rarely have liquid loss. Not sure why that is, but try it and see what results you come up with.

    Now, to go check you the recipe you recommend!

  7. Oops! Sorry Tami. Because of your white screw bands, I thought you were using reusable canning lids. I just had a closer look, and now I see I was wrong. Never mind my question about the lids.

  8. I'm in agreement - it's normal. They look yummy!! I'm in the midst of steaming and freezing green beans. LOTS of green beans. We'll be eating them all winter!