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"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, I suggest placing those in the front of the cupboard to use them up 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 loss

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. 

Remember your foods will be fine. If liquid loss is excessive (below halfway) go ahead and put it in the front of your storage area so it will get used first.

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

I just put up 35 quarts of green beans using a pressure canner. 

I thought I packed the jars tightly / filled with boiling water. When I removed the jars from the canner the water level in the jars was a lot lower.

The water doesn't cover the beans in some of the jars. What did I do wrong? Should they still be safe to eat?


SC answer:
Hi Fran, Assuming you used the proper pressure and processing method.  Yes your beans should be fine. Sometimes liquid is pushed out during processing. Usually this has to do if you had not enough or too much head space. Or possibly you did not get out air bubbles before putting on the lids.

35 quarts.... that is a lot! Fantastic.

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.


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