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Information and discussion about canning and dehydrating tomatoes and other garden vegetables and fruits. DISCLAIMER: SOME RECIPES MAY NOT COMPLY WITH CURRENT FOOD SAFETY GUIDELINES - FOLLOW AT YOUR OWN RISK

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Old August 13, 2012   #1
Lowlander
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Default canning tomatos safely??

I have for the last bunch of years, we have always run out tomatos through a REBER tomato machine and then boil the puree for several hours. After some reduction, we put them in the jars (still boiling) and hot water bath them.

We have hadn't had any issues, but I was wondering about the long process time and acid addition mentioned by other recipes.

Have we done something wrong all this time?? every tomato based product we have canned has been fine with no problems. Am I just being paranoid??
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Old August 13, 2012   #2
TomNJ
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If you are just canning tomatoes with little or no other low acid vegetables added (onions, garlic, peppers, celery, carrots, etc.), then a boiling water bath is fine - 35 minutes for pints and 40 minutes for quarts. You should add some acid to the tomatoes to make sure the pH is below 4.6, such as citric acid (1/4 tsp/pint) or bottled lemon juice (1 TBS/pint). If you add a significant amount of other low acid vegetables, pressure canning is safer.

Complete instructions and recipes can be found here:

http://nchfp.uga.edu/how/can3_tomato.html

There are very very few cases of botulism from home canned tomatoes because they are pretty high in acid, but it is just as easy to do it right and be sure - some varieties of tomatoes are low in acid and push the limit. Surprisingly, the addition of lemon juice, or especially citric acid, does not detract from the flavor.

I canned my delicious salsa wrong for over 30 years without incident, but now I add acid and pressure can it for the added safety. I just canned 15 pints today.

TomNJ
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Old August 13, 2012   #3
Lowlander
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Tom, thanks.

We do boil it for several hours to reduce it, but instead of all these sauces which take so long, we have decided to just can the tomato puree. The machine removes all seeds and skins out one end and spits the puree into the pot (LARGE BEER brewing pot). The batch is so big, it takes 3-6hrs of boiling it to reduce it. We then throw it in the jars and bath it.

gonna have to get some acid just to be sure though. Too bad, I already (I should say the 3 of us garden "partners") have canned 48 quarts of the puree, and will no doubt get another 30-40 qts.
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Old August 13, 2012   #4
lurley
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You should look up the thread on here on how I process tomato sauce. I use a pressure canner to separate the tomatoes from their liquid before I put the meat through the strainer. The sauce comes out of the strainer really thick and ready to can after heating for about 10 mins on the stove to remove the air from going through the strainer. JerryL even posted some photos of it when he did it. No cooking down required, saves a ton of time.
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Old August 13, 2012   #5
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Here is a link to my canned tomatoes.
They are lower in salt and preservatives than any other product in its class.
It is the base for all of my salsa too.
A lot less trouble to pay someone else to do it.
Worth

http://www.google.com/aclk?sa=L&ai=C...cento+tomatoes
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Old August 14, 2012   #6
coronabarb
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Always best to follow an approved recipe when canning. I've even seen the direction to use bottled lemon juice instead of fresh lemon juice to make sure the ph is correct. I've never used lemon juice but understand what they are wanting to achieve...a correct ph so the product is always safe.
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Old August 14, 2012   #7
Lowlander
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so the first 48qts of puree,......do I really need to destroy them??? the tomatos used were "big momma hybrids" and "better bush improved", both of which I believe are high in acid content. They were also boiled for 4+ hours prior to canning, and will all be cooked thoroughly in whatever they are used in.
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Old August 14, 2012   #8
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I say just get a pressure cooker. Although you can do without one, I think they are worth it just so you don't have to worry. You can find one used for fairly cheap. Try yard sales, estate sales, craigslist, ebay, or amazon. They are great for cooking food very quickly as well.
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Old August 14, 2012   #9
Worth1
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Okay,
I have read this here before about low acid tomatoes and I have to say something.
It is not the difference in the acid in a tomato, it is the amount sugar in the tomato that makes them SEEM low acid.

As far as hot water bath canning instructions, get PH paper and check the acidity if you are worried.

The old canning method where you boil the mixture and just put it in the jar and let seal on its own is called the, "open kettle method".
If you put jars in a water bath with the lids on it is called the, "hot water bath method".

If you pressure cook them it is called just that, "pressure cooking".

I personally DONT recommended the open kettle method.

The other two have their place and should be used accordingly.
I dont give any other advice on canning.
I have my own time tested methods and I dont need some lawyer knocking on my door.
I spent my entire life growing up around canners and preserving food, it wasn't a hobby it is how we would feed ourselves.
Two big canners going all summer long in a house without air-conditioning.

Worth

Last edited by Worth1; August 14, 2012 at 12:54 PM.
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Old August 14, 2012   #10
Ken4230
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TomNJ View Post

I canned my delicious salsa wrong for over 30 years without incident, but now I add acid and pressure can it for the added safety.

TomNJ
Tom, would you care to elaborate on your old canning method for salsa. I would like to make sure that I am not screwing up.
I use a water bath for salsa.
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Old August 14, 2012   #11
Skaggydog
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Worth1 View Post
Here is a link to my canned tomatoes.
...Worth
I see you also can Olive Oil, Chili Pepper, Anchovies and Tuna .

You da Man!
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Old August 14, 2012   #12
JamesL
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Lowlander View Post
so the first 48qts of puree,......do I really need to destroy them??? the tomatos used were "big momma hybrids" and "better bush improved", both of which I believe are high in acid content. They were also boiled for 4+ hours prior to canning, and will all be cooked thoroughly in whatever they are used in.
48 quarts? No way I would destroy them. You commented that you have been doing it this way for a few years with no issues.
Just mark these quarts and make sure you boil the contents for 5 min.
That would kill any toxin, if there is any.
You actually only need to go to 185F or higher for 5 minutes, but 212 for 5 minutes will give you certainty and peace of mind and its easier to confirm boiling.
This kills the TOXIN not the SPORES. Spores are tough to kill and you need to go to 250 degrees to do it. But, we are not concerned about the spores.

Botulism spores are present and dormant in food all the time. It's when they start growing under the right anaerobic conditions, the byproduct they produce is the protein toxin.

Raw honey, by way of example, is considered to contain the spores. Which is why it is not recommended to give it to infants as they can develop intestinal botulism.
Healthy adults, with our stomach acid (who said that's not a good thing?) and other bacteria in our gut, don't have a problem with it. Without this protection we humans would have been dead a long time ago.

Canning guidelines - They are certainly there for a reason - they work and help keep the masses safe. But also keep in mind that they are positioned to allow for a margin of error. The USDA no doubt plays it very safe.
Another item to note is that prior to the mid 70's, adding citric acid or lemon juice was not part of the manual and no one added it.
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Old August 14, 2012   #13
TomNJ
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Having spend a lot of time studying canning and botulism, I agree with every word from JamesL above. If your 48 quarts are just tomatoes and you processed them in a boiling water bath for at least 45 minutes, no worries. If you did not process them in boiling water, just be sure you boil the sauce before using to destroy any botulism toxin (a highly unlikely scenario). In the future be sure to process them properly.

Most tomato varieties have a pH of 4.2 to 4.5, but a few varieties have tested over 4.6 which is considered the limit for preventing the growth of botulism spores. pH can vary with variety, growing conditions, and degree of ripeness, which is why adding some additional acid is a smart idea just to be sure the pH is below 4.6. You can get citric acid at Indian grocery stores or on the Internet.

TomNJ
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Old August 14, 2012   #14
TomNJ
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ken4230 View Post
Tom, would you care to elaborate on your old canning method for salsa. I would like to make sure that I am not screwing up.
I use a water bath for salsa.
My old method was to process pints in a boiling water bath for 45 minutes with no added acid. This is fine for just tomatoes, or a tomato sauce with small amounts of low acid vegetables (onions, peppers, garlic, etc.). My salsa, however, contained high amounts of low acid veggies, as much as 20% by weight, which is much higher than approved recipes. I consumed over 1,000 pints over 30 years with no problems, but that doesn't make it safe. I now add citric acid and pressure can.

In my opinion, tomato products are generally safe, even when done wrong. A study by the Center for Disease Control showed only one case of botulism in the USA from home canned tomato products over a 10 year period. Considering that there are over 20 million home canners in the USA and some 40% do not follow proper guidelines, that's a good record. Botulism is a very rare disease, but still, following guidelines is just a easy as not, so why take chances.

The one place I do vary from official guidelines is that I do not follow "approved" recipes. I prefer my own recipes, and based on my experience and research believe my risk is extremely low, but each person needs to decide their own risk tolerance.

By the way, as toxic as the botulism toxin is, the survival rate is 95%. If you home can you should know the symptoms.

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Old August 14, 2012   #15
Worth1
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TomNJ View Post
If you home can you should know the symptoms.

TomNJ



Think about it.


Worth
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