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Old 05-28-2011, 07:41 PM   #1
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Totally new & naive with canning questions

Hi, I'm a very new canner - actually I've only made ONE batch, and I hope someone here might be able to answer a few questions I have. I'm really sorry I feel like these are dumb questions, but I just want to have all my facts straight.

First, when heat processing in boiling water, is is after actually canning the food and bringing the jars to a boil that organisms are killed? Basically, I'm worried that even though I boiled the jars & simmered the lids, and boiled the jam - what if the funnel isn't completely sterile? Nowhere in my book (Ball Complete Book of Home Preserving) does it say that has to be sterile - or the spatula to get rid of air bubbles. Sorry if this is a dumb question, but last night I canned some strawberry jam and I'm just worried, even though I boiled & sealed the jars well, that they are still contaminated from the spatula or funnel. Or is it during the final processing in the water that it becomes sterilized despite maybe using a contaminated tool?

Second, when inspecting my strawberry jam jars this morning, I removed the ring and saw that on one jar the jam had been tilted a little and some was hitting the top of the lid - does this mean that jar is ruined? I did my best not to tip them when removing them from the pot, but the headspace was only 1/4 inch and apparently I did tip this one a little.

Thirdly, it was my first time and I was moving slowly and catiously, so I'm concerned that my jam might have cooled too much from the first jar to the time I filled the last. Is this something to be concerned about?

Again, sorry for the dumb beginner questions! Thanks so much in advance for any advice or support!


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Old 05-28-2011, 10:15 PM   #2
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No worries. The first time you try any process it is scary, especially because we no longer do a lot of our own food preserving.

I am sure there is a rare exception out there, but pretty much you are safe with jams and jellies. The things that can go wrong are pretty obviously wrong when you open the jar. Stuff like green beans and tomatoes can be another story, but strawberry jam is fine if it looks and tastes fine when you open it.

It IS the canning that kills the bad stuff; you want to start and work as clean as possible, because maybe 1 in a billion (trillion?) bacteria survive. Not enough to hurt you if you are being reasonably clean. Not sterilizing all equipment is probably OK. if not you will know it when you open the jar. I do, just because it is no trouble to add funnels, ladles, extra spoons, and so forth to the rest of the stuff.

The jam/headroom question is really just one of whether the jam got under the ring and prevented a tight seal. If it didn't, all is OK; if it did, stick that jar in the fridge and use it first. Treat it like any other opened jar of jam.

Cooling while packing won't affect a thing, unless you did something like chill it, which would require additional processing time to get the internal temp high enough to kill the ookies. Your texture will be better if you move quickly and get it processing at about the temp that it was when you considered it ready to process, but the difference is so minute and preferences so wide, that the observation is almost academic.

Enjoy the process. Your own jams, jellies, and preserves are a special thing to serve and to give.

Nora C
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Old 05-29-2011, 02:47 AM   #3
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from another canning rookie: good questions, good answers. thanks to you both.
in nomine patri, et fili, et spiritus sancti.
beidh ar la linn.
wisdom is often in short supply within ones' ego.
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Old 05-29-2011, 06:26 AM   #4
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We sterilize all of the implements used in the canning process.
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Old 05-29-2011, 08:37 AM   #5
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Good reply Norac, this is what is left of last years strawbs,rasps,damson,plumb and chutney in the padlocked outdoor pantry.Click image for larger version

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Click image for larger version

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Old 05-29-2011, 10:39 AM   #6
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PyrexQueen, Welcome to DC. There are quite a few canners on this boad you will learn lots,

NoraC Well written good advice

Bill I sterlize every thing also

Bolas Beautifully done

I can almost every thing that we grow. Love doing it because I know what goes in it. Last year I canned three different kinds of dry beans, Pintos, Red beans, and black beans.

Practice Random Acts of Kindness ( RAK ) Makes you feel great too
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Old 05-29-2011, 05:25 PM   #7
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Thank you so much for your helpful replies! This helped give me a lot of peace of mind and a little more confidence!

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Old 05-29-2011, 06:11 PM   #8
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I wouldn't worry about the jam touching the lid. I have seen recipes that tell you to invert the jar briefly after the boiling water bath to more reliably seal the lid.
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Old 05-31-2011, 06:14 PM   #9
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No, don't do the inversion thing--that is an old method and is not as foolproof as a boiling water bath and not touching/jiggling the jars after you pull them out of the boiling water.

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