"Will foods be safe if there is some liquid loss in the jars after processing?"

Liquid loss issues in home canning. This is a question that has been asked numerous times. Sometimes liquid is lost during processing.

First let me say that the food is fine,  sometimes food above the liquid mark may darken.  (I have not had that happen to mine) As long as you are sure you processed correctly just use the food as usual. 

If you have jars that have extreme liquid loss, more than half the jar for example. Put them in the fridge and plan on using them.    If the loss is lower than you like but not extreme, place them in the front of the cupboard so they get used first.  

Possible reasons for liquid loss in home canning.

This might mean you had incorrect head space.

Possibly you did not get out air bubbles before putting on the lids.

Your pressure canner may have fluctuated in pressure during processing.  Try to keep that pressure as level as you can.

Foods like beans may have simply soaked up all the water.  Beans should be partially cooked prior to canning.

You might not have the screw band on tight enough.  The lid should be snug but not tightened down too tight.  Just finger tight is fine. 

Most Likely Reasons for Liquid Loss in Home Canning

home canning liquid lossThese beets went into the fridge as the liquid was quite low.

The most common cause I’ve found for this is decreasing pressure in a pressure canner too quickly. When the canner and jars are reducing pressure you want them to decrease pressure equally.  If you cool the canner off, the pressure in the jars will cool slower and result in more pressure in the jar than around the jar.  Contents in the jar will swell and liquid is pushed out. 

What to do when using a pressure canner:

Always allow the canner to cool and reduce pressure to zero naturally.  Do not speed up the cooling process with cold water, cool rags laid on the lid, or any other method.  Just leave the canner sit at room temperature and cool   When it has come to zero pressure, remove the weights.  Wait 10 minutes.  Then take the lid off the canner.

Let the jars rest for 5 minutes or so in the open canner before removing them.  If it seems like the jars are still bubbling rapidly you might even wait another 5 minutes or so.  If you take the jars out too soon they will still be bubbling strongly and the liquids will be pushed out.

When using a waterbath canner:

When your processing time is up, turn off your heat source and remove the lid to the canner.  I allow my jars to rest for 5 minutes or so before lifting the jar rack and bringing the jars out of the water.  Then allow the jars to rest another 5 minutes or so in the rack above the hot water.  There have been occasions where when I bring my jars up out of the water they are still rapidly boiling and liquid will be bubbling out.  If that happens put the jars back down in the water and wait another couple of minutes.  After the jars have rested a bit above the water you can remove them to the counter to finish cooling. 

So is the food still safe?  

Quote from the National Center for Home Food Preservation

So even though it is certainly a bummer when this happens, and your jars are not nearly as pretty,  remember your foods will be fine. If liquid loss is excessive (below halfway) go ahead and put it in the fridge.  And those with milder liquid loss, place in the front of your cupboards so they get used first.  

Here are a few e-mails I've received regarding this issue. 

Hi, I am wondering if it is safe to eat canned green beans if there is no water in the jar. An Amish friend gave some to my husband and I wonder if they are safe to eat. I have never had any can food that was not full of water. The seals seem to be tight.

Thank you for you help, Neina

Hi Neina,  Hmmm,  there is no water at all? That is not good. I have had jars lose liquid when canning and still be safe, but an extreme loss like that isn't safe.  

It would all depend on your knowledge of your amish friends canning methods.  I've read that many still follow old procedures and will use a waterbath on green beans.  This is not safe and I personally would never eat them like that.  

Unless you know this friend well enough to ask how it was processed I'd suggest be safe rather than sorry and not eat them.  

It can be tricky sometimes with something like this.  You don't want to offend the gift giver, but you also don't want to get sick.  Here are a couple of pages you might be interested in.  

This is an index to many articles on canning safety

This one is on canning green beans safely

This one has to do with losing liquid in jars when canning. 

I have a question about the corn I canned this week. This is the first time I have ever put corn up in canning jars. I have usually put it in the freezer. I did not blanch it first so I used the hot pack version I found in the booklet that came with my pressure canner.

After processing and cooling the liquid in the jar had reduced quite a bit. I am not sure why or if this will affect the safety of the corn. This is worse in the quarts and only in a couple off the pints.

I am wondering what might have caused this. I would appreciate any help you can give me with this. I am new to canning and even though it is a lot of work it is a very gratifying hobby. Thanks in advance for your help.

God Bless You, Renee ~ Louisiana

Hi Renee,

As long as you followed the correct time and pressure required for canning corn you should be all right. Liquid loss will sometimes occur. I have had that happen as well and the corn is fine.

It is possible that there was not enough head space in your jars. Corn is starchy and will swell when being processed. That might have pushed the liquid out or simply absorbed a lot of liquid.

Be sure and check the seals on your jars. Sometimes if the liquid gets pushed out it may leave deposits on the sealing compound and prevent a good seal.

I hope that helps and I hope you continue to enjoy your new hobby.

I'm new to canning. A couple of weeks ago I made pickled beets and water bath canned them. The vinegar mixture does not cover the top layer of beets. Are they still safe to use?
Debbie ~PA


Yes your beets should be ok. I assume you mean after you processed the liquid level was down but you had the liquid full to the correct head space when you filled your jars.

Sometimes liquid loss happens during processing. Unless it is extreme your foods will be fine. The food above the liquid may darken a bit.


Related Pages

› Liquid Loss in Home Canning


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