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Old 09-21-2017, 11:39 AM   #1
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Is my tomato sauce safe?

I have been using the same marinara sauce recipe for the last few years. It calls for you to put 1 T of vinegar in a pint jar before adding the sauce and processing. Last week I was in a hurry to bottle some sauce before heading to the airport. I forgot the vinegar until after putting the sauce in so I put it on top. After processing I ran to the airport. After returning a week later, I noticed that my sauce was darker at the top. I'd like to assume that it's just the vinegar that's done that, but wanted to be sure, so I called the Utah State Extension Service. They told me that the new requirements for acid are 1 T of commercial lemon juice, not vinegar. So they can't say that my sauce is safe at all.

Can anyone tell me if the discoloration is from the vinegar being on top (vs on the bottom) and if it's safe to use? If it has less acid than it should, is it completely unusable or do I just need to use it up faster? (in which case I may need to shre with my neighbors asap).

Help!

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Old 09-21-2017, 12:21 PM   #2
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Hi and welcome to Discuss Cooking

I'm not sure why you would think we have better information than the Extension Service Most of us here who can do so according to their guidelines.

I can only guess that the discoloration is from the vinegar; you probably wouldn't notice it on the bottom.

If it's not acidic enough, it's not shelf-stable. If it has been at room temperature for a week, and there isn't enough acid, it's not safe to eat.

I am a little confused about the commercial lemon juice vs. vinegar question, though. Both typically have 5% acidity, so I'm not sure why it would matter which one you use. I'd need to do some research on that.
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Old 09-21-2017, 12:39 PM   #3
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I'm sorry if my question seems silly, but I'm just sick about all the work and tomatoes that will go to waste. I just thought that maybe someone had run into the same problem and received more/different info that might help me.

The extension service told me that I could minimize risk by re-boiling sauce for 15 minutes. And, of course, they certainly can't recommend using anything that wasn't done to their exact specifications (which also means lemon juice, not vinegar). But I wondered if there was anyone with more chemistry experience (the lady at the extension service said she would try to find out more info).

I have sauce from last year that I'm still using up but now I'm worried that I should throw it out. Or should I Just boil it?
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Old 09-21-2017, 01:45 PM   #4
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When in doubt, throw it out! I don't mean to sound harsh, but it looks like you want someone here to justify your desire to use something that should be tossed. If you are really that dead set on keeping it, then try some. If you do or don't get sick, then you'll know.
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Old 09-21-2017, 01:48 PM   #5
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No, I was looking for someone to confirm that freezing and then re-boiling might be a good option. Wow, when I joined to ask this question I saw the BE NICE comments in the agreement and figured this was a safe place to ask questions...even if they seem silly to someone else. But I guess not......
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Old 09-21-2017, 01:54 PM   #6
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If toxins have developed, you might kill the bacteria, but the toxins will still remain. BTW, I said I didn't mean to sound harsh.
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Old 09-21-2017, 02:07 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Sherryarnold View Post
I have been using the same marinara sauce recipe for the last few years. It calls for you to put 1 T of vinegar in a pint jar before adding the sauce and processing. Last week I was in a hurry to bottle some sauce before heading to the airport. I forgot the vinegar until after putting the sauce in so I put it on top. After processing I ran to the airport. After returning a week later, I noticed that my sauce was darker at the top. I'd like to assume that it's just the vinegar that's done that, but wanted to be sure, so I called the Utah State Extension Service. They told me that the new requirements for acid are 1 T of commercial lemon juice, not vinegar. So they can't say that my sauce is safe at all.

Can anyone tell me if the discoloration is from the vinegar being on top (vs on the bottom) and if it's safe to use? If it has less acid than it should, is it completely unusable or do I just need to use it up faster? (in which case I may need to shre with my neighbors asap).

Help!
You've been told by the Extension Service that they aren't willing to say it's safe, yet you come on here asking mostly home cooks if it is (obviously hoping someone will so you can justify using it, why else would you ask?). Then, you get defensive and attack when called out on doing so.

I understand you hate the thought of wasting the tomatoes, time, etc, but sometimes you have to bite the bullet. Also, I would never share something with neighbors that is even remotely questionable.

I've made a few forays into charcuterie. The first time I cured and dried a piece of whole beef (bresola), I was scared to death to try it, much less let anybody else eat it. So, I womaned up and tried a couple of small pieces. Fortunately, I didn't get sick and it turned out quite nicely. You want to know that badly if your T sauce is safe, do the same.
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Old 09-21-2017, 03:44 PM   #8
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I know it's difficult to throw away a lot of product and the work that went into it, but I honestly wouldn't risk it. I'm sorry.
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Old 09-21-2017, 04:21 PM   #9
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What do you mean by processing? Would that be water bath canning, or pressure canning?

If so, and the seal took, it should be safe. Well, so long as the jars were sterilized.

If the seal popped, then you may have to chuck it.

Btw, I've always added vinegar or lemon juice to the top, after the jar is filled.

Hth.
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Old 09-21-2017, 04:27 PM   #10
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Thanks for your kind response. I used water bath and yes, they did seal. But now I'm worried that I don't have enough acid in them (according to new standards by our state extension service). It's the same recipe I've used for the last 3 years, but of course I don't want this to be the first time (for me or anyone else).
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