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Old 03-06-2010, 11:53 PM   #11
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You are only partially correct and complete in your beliefs, which is what leads people down the wrong path. "Sterilizing" would be fine if it were in turn in a sterile environment, which it is not, so in reality pre-sterilizing is a wasted effort because the object is/can be immediately re-contaminated by everything around it, including the air.

That is one reason why the USDA/NCHFP no longer requires that jars be sterilized prior to filling when canning foods. Proper sterilization will occur during canning when the jars are under water (water bath) or in a steam vacuum (pressure canner).

And simple food cooking/boiling does not guarantee that all forms of bacterias, yeasts, fungi, etc., are killed, otherwise the experts wouldn't be compelled to go that special step of sustained boiling for a specific time while under water.

You can continue doing it 'your way', but its like not wearing seat belts in a car. Some day your luck just may run out. The more modern recommendations are safety recommendations and procedures that have been proven in a laboratory and in real life.
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Old 03-07-2010, 07:32 AM   #12
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For those intersted:

National Center for Home Food Preservation | USDA Publications

this is the link to the USDA Guide to home canning, updated in 2009.

Chapter 1 discusses jars, washing, and sterilizing and home canning in general. Chapter 7 is all about jams and jellies.
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Old 03-07-2010, 11:40 PM   #13
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For me i agreed boil the container or jar , that's what we used to do before preserve it in the container i don't if that is good way .
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Old 03-08-2010, 09:50 AM   #14
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Mcnerd, I am not disputing any of that information at all. In Canada, we have similar sites and guidelines, we do not necessarily use all your information.

I do things differently based on my experience, research and recommendations from learned bodies. I do jam one way based upon some of my research. I certainly do not use the same process for something like say...applesauce or salsa. My process is different yet for pickling cucumbers. In the case of jam, if you eliminate nearly all of the microbes with initial sterilization and then seal your jars you should be OK simply because the growing environment is inhospitable. This is ONLY the case if your jam has a high concentration of sugar. Again, sugar makes is virtually impossible for any microbes you have left in your jar to grow. Here is another link that might be easier to understand. Its a bit like opening 3000 year old honey and finding it is still OK to eat.

Much of the canning information out there (in any country) is based on the lowest common denominator, and being safe across the board. Because not everyone uses enough sugar in their jam to make it an inhospitable growing medium, there are guidelines to make it safe.

We all make decisions based upon the information we process. I'm not trying to influence anyone, or to start any kind of pitched battle here.

I hope I've explained my comment now. I do apologize if anyone feels I'm suggesting something unsafe.

northland, I hope you do some more research and find out if you are OK, and I am so sorry to have hijacked your thread!
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Old 03-08-2010, 11:46 AM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Alix View Post
In the case of jam, if you eliminate nearly all of the microbes with initial sterilization and then seal your jars you should be OK simply because the growing environment is inhospitable.
I don't want to be disagreeable again, but how can you know that you've not introduced any microbes? Your jars may be sterile and your jam boiling hot, but what about the rest of your equipment? The funnel, the ladle, the lid lifter, the knife to make sure the bubbles are eliminated in the jar... even the lids should only be simmered and not boiled and are therefore not sterile... not to mention your fingers that are getting the lid on straight.

After the lids are on the jars, the boiling sterilizes everything. I would simply not be comfortable knowing that not everything that touches what is going into the jar is sterile. It's just not possible to ensure this level of safety without the processing.

Also, honey is 100% sugar. Sure it can be preserved for millenia. What is the right amount of sugar to ensure that none of the microbes can grow, though? I'm sure there is a scientific threshold for this, but at home we can't test it like they do in the labs at commercial jam manufacturing plants. How can one know that they put in *enough* sugar. (And FTR, in our case, I only can low sugar jam, as it's one of the reasons to make our own, but that's neither here nor there in relation to your post about sugar as a preservative.)

It's not really that difficult to just boil the jars for 10 minutes. No different than cooking spaghetti. I just wonder why, with such an easy solution, anyone would not go that simple extra step for an extra layer of food safety. To each his or her own, but I'm just saying that I don't understand it. Like wearing a seatbelt... it's not really that much of an extra step for a very huge benefit of safety.
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Old 03-08-2010, 12:52 PM   #16
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Again I am going to be alone here, but I never sterelize jars for jams. Yes I do run them thru dishwasher right before pooring jam/jelly but that is it. I have some stuff seating for years. I made this raspberry jelly like 5 years ago, I just recently found couple of jars of it, it is a s good as new/fresh. And i do not even use pectin. Citric acid only.
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Old 03-08-2010, 03:36 PM   #17
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velochic, I sterilize EVERYTHING that touches the jars and jam. OK, except my hands. That just hurts.

And low sugar jam and high sugar jam are two very different beasts. I don't ever do low sugar jam (I only do raspberry jam because that is what we grow.) We could get into a huge discussion about how much sugar is enough etc and I could haul out all the stuff I've looked at etc etc, but it boils down to (and forgive the pun there) equal amounts of sugar and fruit. Again, there is no precise equation, but that seems to be the basics for preserving.

As to why I don't bother with the boiling and processing, 1) I don't believe it is necessary for my particular jam, and 2) I've wrecked a few jams that way and never wrecked any the other.

Again, purely a choice based on the information I have at my disposal. Your choices, and everyone elses are their own.
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Old 03-08-2010, 04:31 PM   #18
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Of course, you're right, Alix, that everyone has a choice. I will openly admit that I am jaded by my past. My mother almost died from food poisoning from home canned food and my niece, who was 2 at the time also had an incident from high-sugar jam that looked and smelled perfectly safe. Perhaps I'm more cautious because I've seen first-hand what improper canning can do. I'm now safety's loudest advocate. I hope you never have to go through what I went through as an observer thinking my mother would die, what my family went through as the patients suffering, and most especially, what my sister went through feeling the guilt as the perpetrator of cutting canning corners. Perhaps I won't seem so harsh knowing my perspective.
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Old 03-08-2010, 04:36 PM   #19
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I think I'm going to go now and sterilise all my jams.
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Old 03-09-2010, 01:30 AM   #20
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Velochic, how horrible. It certainly does give a different perspective. I hope everyone is OK now?
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