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RE-PROCESSING CANNED FOOD  RSS feed

 
Linda Gale
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Several days ago, I pressure canned green beans, squash and collard greens. I used the hot pack version, in sterile jars, and was careful as I filled jars, making sure everything was very sanitary and nothing touched the boiled lids, rings, and jars.

My pressure canner malfunctioned - and I think, although the food was processed at what should be the correct time, the pressure may not have been up high enough.

I have read that you can only re-process food within 24 hours - but I'm wondering, since I was so careful when going through the process, if I might be able to replace the lid with a new one, heat the food in the jars and then pressure can it again, being sure that the right temp and pressure was reached this time.

I know that the food won't have the same "first time" consistency, but with collard greens, it might even tenderize them more - the squash will be mashed, anyway - and the green beans.... well, I can live with "well cooked".

I just hate to loose 15 jars of food that will be important in a few months. If I reprocess these jars, and then mark them to ONLY SERVE AFTER BOILING FOR 10 MIN (in addition to the reprocessing), will this be reasonably safe? PLEASE DON'T REPLY IF YOU HAVE NO EXPERIENCE IN THIS SAME PROBLEM!!! I KNOW "WHAT THE BOOKS" SAY!

Thanks for your help!
Linda
Omaha, NE Anybody from around here
 
Austin Max
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Location: South Central Kentucky
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You didn't say exactly what happened... Jars didn't seal? Other visible problem?
 
Linda Gale
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Sorry - The jars did seal - no problem there, and they "look" great. No evidence of anything gone wrong, no bulging lids, bubbles inside, or other nasty things.

I think the pressure didn't come up properly - so they were only "steamed" in the pressure canner - and probably did not get the total amount of processing time. My book had a stain on the "time to process" - and I think they properly only got about half as much as they should have received.
 
Eric Thompson
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Location: Bothell, WA - USA
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I can add my opinion based on my college studies in food sciences of preservation and safety:
The main thing of concern in canning low acid things (like collard greens, meats, etc..) is killing the bacteria that produces botulism (colstridium botulinum) - this is a bacteria that only thrives in low acid, room temperature, non-oxygen conditions. If the jars sealed, that is still not a guarantee that it is safe as you seem to know - you need a good kill factor which is achieved at high temperature for a period of time (to the core of the food!), and you need a good seal.
Now in your case, failing the good seal, you still won't get a toxic buildup of botulism in a few days, just like they won't be putrid leaving them on the counter for 2 days. You're right that re-processing will make them mushier, and it may take out a few more vitamins, but there should be no problem with doing it now. If it's something you would eat now, canning or freezing are still options - just with a little quality lost in processing.
By the way, even extra boiling doesn't remove botulism, which makes it a potent threat with improper canning. most other common bacteria hordes will just taste bad, and I would ALWAYS recommend not eating something tht tastes a little off just because you think you're wasting it otherwise. I would point out that you "wasted it" a few days ago and now it's just trash..

 
Linda Gale
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Thanks for your reply - and I understand what you're saying... but I'm not quite sure about your "final decision". Do you mean to say that it would probably be OK, but mushier, if I reprocessed it properly now? Or that I just better trash it now and not take the chance?
 
Eric Thompson
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Location: Bothell, WA - USA
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Yeah, I mean it would be ok -- your nose and taste will tell you if anything is wrongs with it, and I really don't see these getting bad after a few days..
 
Austin Max
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Location: South Central Kentucky
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I would agree with Eric. As long as you can get it up to the correct pressure/temp/time, theoretically you should be fine, my guesstimate time limit would probably be a week before I wouldn't reprocess. Botulism is no joke though, it will kill you... dead.
 
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