"Self-sufficiency does not mean 'going back' to the acceptance of a lower standard of living. On the contrary, it is the striving for a higher standard of living, for food that is organically grown and good, for the good life in pleasant surroundings... and for the satisfaction that comes from doing difficult and intricate jobs well and successfully." John Seymour ~ Self Sufficiency 2003

Tuesday, 29 September 2015

Preservation fail?

I need some expert advice please.

At the end of last summer I used the last of my tomatoes to make concentrated tomato purée and tomato sauce (ketchup).

As I couldn't find an appropriate canning recipe I froze the puréed concentrate in portion sized batches.

And the ketchup was made, and water bath preserved.

All the lids sealed properly.  However, I am left with the last few jars which look like this:
Homemade tomato ketchup
Can you see the darker layer at the top?

My question is this - is the tomato sauce still safe to use?  The lids are definitely still vacuum sealed.  And, yes, I did fill to within 1/2 inch of the top of the jar - it appears to have settled lower than that though in the intervening months.

Would the "air space" at the top of the jar cause that darkening to occur?

17 comments:

  1. I do not consider myself an expert in anything. That being said, in all my years of canning I have never seen anything quite like your jars of ketchup. I have had food darken a bit in the top of a sealed jar due to air in the jar. The food has been perfectly fine and sometimes I have just scooped out the dark bits just because I didn't like the looks of it (it wasn't pretty), and have used the rest. And I have had food like whole tomatoes settle in the jar. But never have I seen the darkened bits extending so deeply in the jar nor have I had ketchup or tomato sauce settle like that. I don't know what the cause would be. If it were me, I would discard the ketchup. It may be perfectly fine, especially if there is no bad odor detected when a jar is opened, but I don't think it would be worth taking a chance on the unknown.

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    1. Vicki - It's such a pity - it was delicious ketchup. But, I don't think I'm going to risk it - save a penny on ketchup and pay a fortune for a doctor...

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  2. Are there any bums around there? You could test it out on them. If they don't croak, it's ok to eat. Of course, if it is good you will be covered up with hobo's so maybe that's a bad idea.

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    1. Harry - Lol - nah, couldn't do that to the homeless...

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  3. Dani - i would try taking a lid off of one of them and smelling the sauce/ketchup. if it smells at all off, i would ditch all 3 jars. if it smells ok, i would skim off the darker stuff and taste-test the lighter stuff. just taste a little...if it tastes funny, ditch it. if it tastes ok, wait an hour or so and taste-test another little bit. and another little bit. if your stomach feels fine after about 6hrs or so, and you don't get diahrea, it should be fine for use. but this is only if you are gutsy enough to try it. jambaloney would do it - he hates wasting anything - but to be honest - i don't think i would want to try it.

    i linked to your blog in my blog post today - head over and see some of your piquante and bird's eye chili peppers that i harvested today!

    sending much love! your friend,
    kymber

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    1. kymber - Nope, it doesn't smell bad at all. I just don't like the colour...

      I'll pop over to your blog when we get back from town - have to go and get lucerne for the alpacas. Can;t wait to see how your peppers are doing :)

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  4. Hi Dani, I've been following you with interest and enjoyment for some months now. I am reading " Animal, Vegetable, Miracle" by Barbara Kingsolver. Google www.AnimalVegetableMiracle.com ; I think you'll find it helpful. Mark.

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    1. Mark - (or should it be Jenny?) Thanks for taking the time to leave a comment - and welcome :)

      Yeah, that book looks fascinating - thanks for the link.

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    2. I've just read that - and it was, interesting.
      A little disappointed that her website doesn't move the story forward a little.

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  5. I got food poisoning once from eating canned food that didn't look quite "right", but didn't smell or taste bad. That is one experience you can do without. I would pitch it out, better safe than sorry.

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    1. KCD - Welcome - and thanks for taking the time to leave a comment.

      Yeah, I have come to that conclusion. Scottish roots and all, it's just not worth the risk. Anyway, my tomato season will soon be starting so I get to make some new tomato sauce soon anyway :)

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  6. I have had chutney that has also darkened like this, but have still used it and all was fine. With regards to the gap on top, we always leave about 0.5cm or less. And just a point to remember you cant smell botulism. So! there we go......maybe toss the lot.:)

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    1. AB - I did leave .5cms - but the bloody sauce settled!!?? Nope. not gonna take the chance...

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  7. Your decision to toss it - though frustrating after all your work and time - seems smart to me. I always go by "can I feed it to the hens/goats?" And if I don't want to risk their health, I won't risk my own either. May sound a little odd as a system, but if works for me!

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    1. Quinn - Sorry it's taken me so long to reply to your comment - we had to travel through to Cape Town for the day yesterday - 650kms. Exhausting stuff...!

      I agree, if animals can;t eat it, humans should't either! :)

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  8. I think you are right not to risk it, it's a shame but not worth getting ill.

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    1. Chickpea - Not worth it at all...! ;)

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