Avoid Spoiled Food

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Do you know how to recognize spoiled food? Sometimes it is obvious…sometimes not.

A strangely bubbling jar of canned tomatoes.

This Page Includes:

Prevent Spoiled Food By Using Up-to-Date Canning Methods


Botulism is not anything you can see or smell. You will not know it is there until you get sick.

That is another reason to avoid unsafe canning methods. You just won’t know it is there. Be confident that your food is safe by using up-to-date canning methods.

Other Signs of Spoilage

Other spoiled food is apparent by just looking at the jars or smelling the contents.

Out of the 250 jars of various foods I canned last year…I had one that lost its seal and spoiled. It was a jar of canned whole tomatoes. There was scum on top of the food and the product was bubbly. It was pretty yucky. There was no doubt. I had no problem throwing that one out.

When you take your food out of storage, look for these signs of spoilage:

  • bulging tops
  • lost seals
  • product is bubbly
  • product spurts out of jar when opened, which indicates food might be under pressure
  • scum on top of the food
  • unnatural-looking colors
  • unnatural smells

Do NOT taste test any food that you are not sure of!

If in Doubt, Throw It Away!

  • When you take food out of storage, do not eat food from jars that have lost their seal or have bulging tops.
  • When you throw it away, make sure animals cannot get into it either. Family pets can get sick too.
  • The jars need to be sterilized if it has had spoiled food in it. Wash the jar. Place in a large pot, cover with water, and boil for 30 minutes.

Before Putting Jars in Storage…

  • After jars have cooled, check the seals before storage. Remove the screw bands. Lift on the edges with your fingers and lift the jars in the air. If the lid holds, it has safely sealed.
  • You can also push down on the center of the lid; if the lid is pushed down and does not move or ‘pop’ under your finger, it is sealed.

If you notice a failed seal immediately after processing, simply enjoy the foods right away. Store it in the refrigerator just as you would any food.

Storing your jars without the screw lid is a good idea. If the food comes under pressure, the seals will naturally break. The seals should not come off if the food is sealed properly and cooked properly.

It is also advisable to store your jars in a cool, dark, and dry environment. Don’t store in a room or area that may contain hot pipes or a furnace. A kitchen pantry is usually just fine.

Direct sunlight will decrease the quality of the foods as well.

Related Pages

Learn more about botulism (the risk you cannot smell or see) on this page. Hint: Thankfully, it’s very easy to avoid it altogether with some commonsense and best practices.

Have you ever heard of Flat sour? While it won’t harm you, flat sour can make your canned food very unappetizing.

How to Can Tomatoes Safely – A bit of acidification helps. But WHY?

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Spoiled Food

Page last updated: 10/29/2021

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