How Do I Know "IT's" Spoiled? : New Website

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How Do I Know "IT's" Spoiled?

by Lisa Fowler on 02/14/11

The one question that is on everyone's mind when they begin canning is "How do I know when the jar is spoiled?"

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

It is common for a few jars that you have laboriously canned over the year to lose its seal and the contents spoil.   Maybe you will notice scum on top of the food or the contents being bubbly.  There is no doubt with these indicators of food spoilage..Best advice, throw it out. 

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

  • bulging tops
  • lost seal
  • product is bubbly
  • product spurts out of jar when opened, this 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.

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