Canning Tomato Sauce
I'm italian, I eat a lot of pasta!
A few times a year I'll cook a 45 qt pot of tomato sauce just for canning. I use all quart jars. I cook the sauce for hours and make sure the temp is well over 200 degrees.
I wash all my quart jars and run them through my dishwasher on a very hot cycle right before I am going to fill them with the hot sauce. I add a little salt and lemon juice to each jar before filling. I usually try to remove some air bubbles before putting the lids and caps on.
My question is am I suppose to do a boiling water bath next? I never have and my sauces have lasted over a year with no problems. Maybe three or four out of about 50 quarts will have some mold when I take the lid off but that's probably because a lid didn't sit right.
The sauce is all for personal consumption. I just wonder if the boiling all the cans is a waste of time and not necessary for every type of canning. Seems redundant to boil the jars if t
he hot liquid I'm putting in them is already piping hot.
What are your thoughts. Thx. Frank
This is a tough question, because if you've been doing it this way with no problems you may say "what's the big fuss?" However, I have to still recommend processing your tomato sauce.
When you process the jars after they are filled and the lids placed, the jars and foods are sterilized. All spoiling factors are stopped. And the jar is sealed so the food will not be recontaminated.
The concern with not processing your tomato sauce is this.
1- Your jars are very clean but very clean is not sterilized.
2- You stated that you are sure to get your tomatoes to above 200 degrees. Botulism can only be killed at temperatures above 240 degrees.
3- Even if you believe your tomatoes have been sterilized by the cooking you have done. It is still exposed to the air and cooking utensils used to transfer it to your jars. I can be recontaminated in that short time.
So now you have food that is in the jars and sealed, but if the bacteria got into your food before it sealed you have a problem. And as you indicated you have seen mold on a few so you know that at least those few have been recontaminated even as careful as you can be.
Botulism is the main concern. Mold you can see and simply throw away. However, botulism can not be seen, or tasted, or smelled. You will not know it is there until you get sick. And it can be lethal.
IMHO You really should be processing in a water bath or a pressure canner.
I am glad to see you adding lemon juice, that acidifies your tomatoes which also deters botulism.
Here is another page about canning tomatoes and acidity levels.
I hope that this helps you make your decision.
Sharon, Thanks for the quick reply. Well, everything you pointed out makes very clear sense to me. I did boil my jars, lids and caps prior to canning. Also cooked my sauce to about 210 degrees.
But here is my question now. Is it too late to do the processing bath tomorrow on the
jars that I've already canned. They would have sat overnight and cooled and I can hear all the lids popping which means they are sealing tight.
Do you see any problems with me doing the water bath the day after the canning. In the future I will do it as soon as I'm done canning and while the contents in the jars are hot.
Hi again Frank,
Yes processing tomorrow is fine. As long as it is within 24 hours you will be ok. You'll need to reheat the contents as you don't want your jars to go into the canner cool. So unfortunately that means emptying the jars, heating the sauce and re-jarring with new lids.
Have a great evening.
Thanks again for setting me straight on the proper method for processing my cooked tomato sauce. Moving forward I will always remember to process in the hot water bath to ensure killing any potential bacteria.
But this batch is staying the way it is. The thought of emptying out all the jars, re heating, new lids, etc. is a huge hassle and throwing out a days worth of work is not an option.
Like I mentioned earlier I've probably canned sauce like this at least three times in the past and have had decent luck. I guess I'll take my chances but in the future I'll always do a final water bath. Not sure if it helps at all but I will be reheating the canned contents to a very high heat prior to eating it.
Thanks for all your input, it was very helpful. I'm going to check out your website and get some other canning ideas.
I also do homemade grape jelly that is incredible. Thank you, Frank
Frank I am so glad I could help. And I don't blame you for not wanting to redo all that work. OR throw it away.
For low acid foods (veggies and meats) USDA recommends boiling for 10 minutes just prior to eating, as an extra safety precaution. I'd recommend you do that with your tomatoes.
And you know what?? I am jelly challenged. LOL I usually opt for easier jams. In fact I tried grape jelly for the first time this year and it did not set up. I'm going to try to reprocess it with more pectin. We'll see how it goes. If not we have some grape syrup. And I did get some grape jam
The batch of tomato sauce that I just canned ended up being 41 quarts. That will most likely last me quite awhile. I'm Italian so I eat a lot of pasta. I'll keep a close eye on it and discard anything that looks visibly spoiled. The rest I'll re heat very well prior to serving and hope for the best. I have a stomach of steel so I'm really not too worried about it.
The last time I canned grape jelly was over two years ago. I did about 50 pint jars. I don't do anything small. I put an add on craigslist looking for concord grapes and someone let me pick everything they had. I cooked them down to a perfect juice, added my pectin and sugar, topped them off with wax and they firmed up perfectly. Nothing like homemade jelly.
Thanks for all your advice. Talk to you soon, Frank