Testing Jar Seals And Reprocessing Jars (Safe Home Canning)

I think that this is the part that most people panic about when it comes to safe home canning. Did my jars seal? Are they safe for my family to eat? How can I be sure?

The scary thing and that which is the worst problem that can come from canning (botulism) is unable to been seen or smelled. So what can we do about it?

Worried that one of your home canned foods did not seal or might not be safe? Here are some tips for safe home canning.  #canning #safecanning #safehomecanning #preserving #homesteading #puttingupfood

Testing Jar Seals and Safe Home Canning Tips

First of all, and this is the biggest thing…make sure you follow the canning directions to the letter. You need to boil or cook your canned foods for the correct amount of time and the correct amount of pressure (if you are pressure canning). And be sure that during the time of cooking that your canner stays up to the correct pressure (or keeps boiling if you are water bathing) for the entire time you are processing.

You also want to make sure that you talk to your local extension office and find out if you need to make time/temp/pressure adjustments for your altitude. This is especially true if you are using a canning recipe from a website or something you are just unsure about.

If you aren’t familiar with your local extension office you can locate one here: US Extension Offices. (By the way, if you didn’t already know, your extension office is a plethora of information on all things local, outdoors, growing food, etc. Utilize them!)

Once you have the basic pressure canning or water bath canning part down you shouldn’t have much to worry about. But do you know how to properly test a seal on a jar? Here are some things to look for…

DSC_0532

The most common method for testing jars is the Finger Test Method. Simply press on the middle of the jar lid with your finger. If the lid “pops” up and down with your finger when you press, it’s not sealed and needs to be reprocessed. If it doesn’t move at all it’s likely sealed.

Note: Don’t test canned foods until they are completely cooled and you’ve given them several hours to seal! Doing so might create a false seal and unsafe food.

All food should be reprocessed within 12 hours of the original processing. Anything longer than that and the food should be placed in your fridge and eaten up as soon as any other leftover food.

DSC_0533

The next method you can try is the Spoon Test Method. Tap the lid with the bottom of a spoon. If it makes a dull sound the lid is not sealed. If it makes a pinging noise it is correctly sealed. Please note that if you did not leave headspace and food is touching the lid it will create a dull sound either way.

DSC_0530

Of course, you can also look at the lid at eye level. If the lid looks flat or bulging it’s not sealed. If the lid is nice and concave it’s properly sealed!

Do not lift up on the jar lid to test the seal. Doing so may break an otherwise good seal and allow bacteria to come in.

Do not remove a jar rim before the jar has cooled but DO remove the rim before storing the jar. Re-tightening a rim after the jar is sealed can cause the seal to break.

Can you reprocess jars that don’t seal?

If your jar didn’t seal don’t stress and get upset. It happens to the best of us! Even experienced canners that have been using safe home canning for decades have jars that don’t seal on occasion. It just happens. If you have an unsealed jar or two, here’s what to do.

Remove the lid and rim. Check the rim of the jar for any nicks or cracks. If you have a nick, discard the jar (or use it for dry food storage!) and place your prepared foods in a new, clean jar. Place a new lid on the jar and secure it with a clean rim. (Do not reuse the lid you already processed the jar with.)

Reprocess the jar using the same process that you already used. It’s a good idea to leave some time in between your canning so if unsealed jars do happen you can just add them to another batch instead of having just a single jar to re-can.

If you don’t want to re-process your un-sealed jar you can always stick the food in the fridge or eat it for supper. Or you can just freeze the contents for future use.

What do I do if my canning lids didn’t “pop”?

They may not always make the popping sound so it’s not good to rely on that sound to know that the jar is sealed. Use one of the methods outlined above instead.

Are there foods that shouldn’t be reprocessed? (aka: What to do if my pickles don’t seal!)

Yes, but this is a quality issue and not a safety issue. Certain foods like pears can get very mushy if they are overly processed and the end product will not be very good. It’s better to put certain foods in the fridge and just enjoy them now.

But my Grandma used to do it this way…

Yep, my Granny used to just turn the jars over after making soup to can them with the heat from the food. (Not recommended!!) We’ve learned a lot about food safety in the past several decades and it’s important to go by what we know now. And yes, that includes canning tomatoes with some kind of acid. Tomato acidity has changed in the past 50 years and is no longer as high as it once was putting tomatoes in the low acid food category.

Safe Home Canning Websites

Here are some websites that you can also check to better understand the safety within home canning and preserving.

A Final Note on Safe Home Canning…

SO many people stress out about canning because of the risks and I want to assure you that issues with canning, especially when directions are properly followed, are very minimal. An average of 145 cases of botulism are reported in the US each year and just 15% of those cases are foodborne (not even all from home canned goods!). Out of 327,445,198 US citizens, that percentage is an extremely small number. That’s about 0.00000007% chance of contracting botulism for your food. (You have a better chance of winning the lottery!)

It doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t worry about it at all, but rather, not let it hinder us if we truly want to preserve food for our family. As long as you are following safe methods, the extra stress is not worth it.

Wondering what tools you needed to get started canning? Watch my video below!

How long have you been canning? Do you make sure to follow safe home canning methods?

merissabio

This article on Safe Home Canning was originally posted on Little House Living in July 2013. It has been updated as of September 2019.

Support Little House Living by Sharing This

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

202 Comments

  1. We’re really careful to follow safe canning procedures when we do anything. 🙂 New lids, clean rings, sterile jars, processing times checked, etc. I’ve never had a problem with bad food, although I’ve had plenty of seals fail for a variety of reasons. The exploding jar of spaghetti sauce was the worst, but at least it was contained in the pressure canner LOL…

    1. I’ve just had to throw out 14 pints of salsa and 5 quarts of spaghetti sauce due to the seals not working. They seemed to have sealed fine and after awhile we looked in the pantry and all the lids were exploding once we took the rings off they volcanoed out of the jars. Could I have got bad sealing rings. They come in boxes of 12 and I had 19 not seal and had 3 left over rings I didn’t use. I threw them out, but I’m very upset about all the wasted food and all the time I put into canning it all.

      1. I have never heard of rings going bad the truth is so many things could have gone south in the process.

        did you boil the lids to soften the gaskets?

        did you wiper properly the lip of the jar to ensure a clean good seal before putting the lid on?

        did you leave the jars to normalize in temperature in a not to hot not to cold area?

        did you leave enough head space to allow enough gas to escape to create a negative atmosphere?

        is your pantry right next to something that frequently gets hot like a furnace or hot water tank?

        did you simmer / pressure cock the jars long enough?

        I would check these things first but before accusing rings. but I don’t pretend to know everything. if anything i would assume a bad batch of lids before bad before bad rings.

        1. I think you had an unfortunate typo in that comment, but it made me lol. ?? Great advice and suggestions!! The first thing I thought was that they may have had it near a hot water heater.

        2. If your fingernail will go between the ring and the lid the rings have been used too many times . Theycan be reshaped carefully with the back of a spoon or a pair of plowers pressing smoothly all the way around . Then you’re finger Nail no longer will go between the lid and Ring.

      2. Was it a certain brand of jars & lids?.
        I’m just beginning & did 4 pints of chicken 1 sealed & 3 didn’t. I am reprocessing. Wish me luck.

  2. I have a large family to feed, so we can on a large basis. About 300-600 jars per year. Safe canning methods are a huge part of our season. Not only checking lids, rings, and jars, but also making sure the canner seals are good.

      1. Can you transfer food in canning jar that bottom broke to another jar and process it? I would think small particles of glass might be in food?

    1. I am canning soup and this is the first time the seals have popped before I started the pressure canner. Water for the jars and seals were boiling as well as the chicken soup. Why did they pop early and will it be safe to eat?

      1. I’m not sure why they would seal early for sure, but as long as you followed the proper canning directions for what you were making (for time and pressure), they should be properly sealed.

        1. I just was canning fish and the seal on my canner failed, causing the process to abort. Jars sealed prematurely. I wondered if they were still safe so I contacted our extension service. An expert said NO, THEY ARE NOT SAFE because the venting of the jar of air has to happen while they are under pressure during canning process in order to make the fish safe.
          I am having to recool the fish and use new lids before I start over.

          1. Yes, that would be correct. If the they were not processed for the correct amount of time/pressure, the product cannot be trusted.

  3. I have been canning for a while. I have only had a few problems. We did have some salsa that became unsealed after about 6 months. It was the strangest thing. I am not sure what happened but I had about 15 jars that all of a sudden decided that they did not want to be sealed anymore. It was very sad to throw them all out. But then I had jars ready to be filled up with something else.

    When I open up a jar I always ensure that the seal is still intact and I usually listen closely when I open it up. If I am in doubt, I will throw it out. I am not afraid to “waste” food if I am not sure of its quality even when It makes me sad. I try hard to ensure that it is good food for the family.

    I know some people have had real trouble with the reusable canning lids. It is hard to tell if they are sealed, you don’t get that concave look, nor the sounds. They seem to have about a 50% failure rate. Many times you will unseal them trying to see if they are sealed. They seem to be a pain to use. I would not recommend them. Just stick with the old tried and true canning lids is what I think.

    1. I agree, regular canning lids seem much easier to use and now that they are taking the BPA out of them I’m more than happy to keep using them!

    2. I have just finished my first time canning with a batch of Strawberry Marmalade. I filled 48 4oz jars for a shower favor. I followed the time (10 min processing in the bath) , 1/2” a 1/4” headspace, wiped the rims, finger-tightened lid. It has now been 2.5 hours since the last batch came out. Only 5 jars have ‘pinged’ and sealed. The jars are still slightly warm. If I have to reprocess, do I have to reheat the jam to boiling before refilling jars , or do I just wipe rims and reseal with the new lids , then water bath can for ten minutes again? I’m so nervous about this. In the meantime, should I refrigerate the jars? I won’t be able to reprocess until after work tomorrow, which will be about 22 hours after the process started.

      1. Yes, you would put them in the fridge until you can reprocess but do it as soon as you can. Remove the seals, replace them with new ones and reprocess.

    3. Hi, My question is, I am canning meat and I started my canner released my steam for 10 minutes and put my gauge on. This is my new presto 23 qt. Used 3 times. Tje front valve did not pop up it continued to release steam. I stopped the canner and restarted it. Again the same thing. So again I stopped and this time I took the lid off checked everything and started over. It worked. However, about 15 minutes into canning I think I am hearing my seals. I have continued to process and at this time several more have also popped. With 41 minutes remaining. This is the first time for that to happen to me. Do i need to re can them freeze them. Are they going to be good? Will they explode?

      1. I just had this very same thing happen to me! Same canner as yours… my first time ever canning… I am so discouraged with the turnout! I was so excited to can for the first time too!!!

        I was attempting a batch of raw pack, so I am afraid to play games with these jars. I am cooking the contents and putting them up in the freezer. Now I don’t trust my canner.

        Did you ever figure out why this happened?? I have checked the canner over and reread all of the instructions again, but I can’t find anything wrong… except, of course, that the entire experience was s massive failure for me! Would appreciate any insight on this issue!

  4. Merrisa, I am a 70 year old wife, mother and grandmother. I find your blog so refreshing and encouraging and just want to say “ThankYou” for the courage and knowledge you are sharing with others. I have been canning for years and get some strange looks when talking about ‘putting food up’ and canning. My mother-in-law gave me my lessons when I moved to Oregon and I have thanked her each time I pop the seal on a jar for teaching me a craft that has provided food for my family during some pretty lean times.
    I have learned to take advantage of fantastic meat sales to can and have on hand for several years. Abundance in fruit and vegetables gardens of friends brings out the water bath canners/pressure canners and on food is on the shelf for future use.
    I encourage men and women to learn how to can. Go to a senior center and talk with canners. Check out Extension Services at your local college for canning classes and teaching brochures. Your advice to follow directions “EXACTLY” in the Ball Canning Bible is right on. YouTube is also a great visual lesson for new ideas. Again, just like me tell you that I think what you share with others is a great service and very interesting. As my grand daughter would say……You Go Girl!”

    1. i always can tomatoes every year. I follow all the rules but every so often after about a week some of the lids pop and the smell is dreadful. I can’t figure out why this happens. this year I did 37 uart jars out of these 8 already went bad, hopefully these will be the only ones. what I dont understand is how come some go bad and some dont? I’ve had the same issue every year where some go bad and some dont If I wasn’t doing them right wouldn’t they all go bad? I would appreciate any advice

  5. I pressure canned peaches. I had some difficulty with the canning process (all the ater boiled away)> the jars all sealed. as long as the jars are sealed is the food safe to eat?

    1. Did you boil the water for the correct amount of time? If not, even though they look sealed they may not be safe and you might want to stick them in the fridge and use them.

  6. I used to can a LOT. But haven’t now for quite a long time. I recently was given a bunch of extra produce and decided to “put up” some of it. If I have to reprocess any of it, do I need to empty, clean and refill the jars…or just switch out the lids and put them in the water bath? Thanks!

  7. Great topic. As a relatively new canner (2 seasons) safety is a major concern. We always follow the directions very carefully and attend carefully when opening the jars. I have two questions for all of you experienced canners out there that will ease my mind greatly.

    1) We check for head space when canning, but often it changes after processing. Is this OK? If we had 1/2 inch head space to start and the food moves around or shrinks, is the food still safe?
    2) When we open, I like to hear a loud “pop” to know that the seal was intact. But sometimes we perform the above tests with success, open the jar, hear the suction/seal sound, but not the “pop.” Is this food safe, or do we need that loud pop?

    We tossed 3/4 of our tomatoes because I didn’t hear the pop, but they seemed OK and I felt sure I was doing the wrong thing by throwing them out.

    1. I hope this helps…

      1. Yes, food changes when it’s canned (especially foods like potatoes or beans that absorb the liquid) so some shrinking is ok.

      2. I also listen for this, not necessarily for the pop but just that the jar lid was hard to open and doesn’t come easily off. This isn’t the best indicator though, as long as the jar passes the test in the article above before it’s opened it should be fine.

    2. Just a word on the tomatoes, my Grandma & Dad both have always tod me, “No one has ever died from eating bad canned tomatoes.” If you have a bad jar of tomatoes, you will know the second you open it. The smell will tell. I am in my 30’s and still don’t can alone-I have grownups =] that I team up with. I have learned a lot and can’t wait for this years garden to provide a colorful pantry.

  8. Hi Merissa,
    The best test you can do to verify your lids are correctly sealed is by lifting the jars by the lid (you need to remove the ring to perform the test). If there is any issue with the seal, it won’t be able to lift the weight of the jar and it will unseal.
    Obviously you need to wait for the jars to cool down to execute this. This apply to reusable lids as well 🙂
    Mathieu.

  9. I canned green beans and peas and squash and tomatoes. They all sealed except 1 jar. I cooked in a water bath – the quarts 45 minutes and the pints 30 minutes. A friend now tells me that these items cannot be done in a water bath and should have been done in a PC for that length of time – not a water bath. That she would not eat them…….What do you suggest??? Thanks so much…….

    1. Yes, all of those foods should be processed in a pressure canner to be safely sealed. If you just did them you should be able to re-process them in a pressure canner.

      1. We did ours In a pressure canner but mistakenly covered the jars with water but did them 25 minutes on 10lb pressure as chart indicated. One person told me I needed to reprocess them is this correct? will it ruin the green beans by reprocessing? I thought as long as the beans are boiled when cooking them later for at least 10 minutes or longer any toxins would be destroyed. Help!!

        1. I’m really not sure on this one. I’ve never covered jars with water when pressure canning. I would call your local extension office and ask them wheat to do.

        2. BOILING for at least 10 minutes will break down botulinum toxins — be sure it’s actually boiling for those 10 minutes, not simmering, not just heating, but boiling.

          1. Boiling for at least 10 minutes will NOT kill botulism toxin spores. The temperature needs to be higher than boiling to do so. This is not possible using boiling water. In order to reach the required temperature which is well above boiling, pressure is needed. So simply boiling a jar of low acid food will not protect against botulism.

  10. Hi,
    As I lifted a jar of tomatoes out of the water to place on the counter to cool and “POP:. (seal). A very weak sounding, Pop was heard. The lid sunk in too. I am use to setting them down then hearing loud pops as they seal. Do you think that weak sounding pop was good enough?
    Thanks’
    Jay

    1. It might be ok but if you are worried that something hitting it might have caused the pop I would just stick it in the fridge and enjoy now.

  11. I’m just teaching myself how to can. Yesterday for my second attempt, I made a batch of nectarine chutney, and then some oven roasted nectarine butter. A few questions re the latter. 1) I got the recipe for the nectarine butter off the net, from someone’s cooking blog, and had been listed on a larger canning blog. But, it occurs to me, how do you know if a recipe is an “approved and tested” recipe, and based on safe canning rules? 2) The recipe just called for roasting the fruit until soft, mashing, optionally adding sugar and spices to taste, then canning for 15 mins in a hot water bath. Should it also have had lemon juice to make it keep? 3) I realize now that I didn’t leave enough headroom. The butter rose to the bottoms of the lids, and there are small traces of fruit on the outside of rims of the jars. But, the lids don’t move, are concave, and tight. Are they really sealed?

    1. You can generally learn the latest about canning from your local extension office. I make various fruit butters all of the time and haven’t added any lemon juice to them, usually the fruit is acidic enough for the water bath. It sounds like the jars are probably sealed but since little room was left they may not stay sealed for long. In this case it would probably be best to enjoy them sooner rather than later.

  12. I put up several quarts of meat spaghetti sauce I left 1″ of head space ,, processed at 11 psi for 70 minutes ,, each jar had boil over and I noted content down the side of the jar ,, I’m guessing that I need more head space?? Sauce was “hot packed”
    Can I reprocess again right away ? I just heard 3 pops ,, I guess I’ll wait 24 hrs and see where they are ,, we’ll eat lots of pasta this week !!!

    1. I would take off the lids, take some out and reprocess right away. Without leaving enough headspace you run the risk of the jar not sealing right and you definitely don’t want the jars to go to waste or get bacteria in them. You should be fine to reprocess if you just did them.

  13. Melissa ,Thank you so kindly for the fast reply!
    Only 1 jar did not seal ,, I put that in the fridge,,, the others have good concave lids and have the sound as described above when tapped,,, as this is my first time pressure canning it’s more or less a test to see if I could do it,,, my question now is I exactly measured 1″ headspace,, and had 11 psi ,, why the boil over? For sauce that is precooked/hot packed is it necessary to process for 70 minutes?? I saw on another website (after the fact) that hot packed food only needs to be processed for 15 minutes at proper pressure because your not “cooking” product only “sterilizing” it and 15 minutes will do that

  14. I am new to canning (first year) and a week ago I removed a jar of peppers out of my canner and I hit the top of the lid without thinking. Do you believe that this created a false seal or do you believe it is okay? I hate to throw away four jars of peppers but don’t want to make my family sick. Before I read your post I did not know that you could have a false seal. I just assumed that it would seal or it wouldn’t. Also, has to much time passed to reprocess the jars?

    1. Personally I wouldn’t eat them but if you feel they are safe then it’s really a judgement call. I wait no longer than 24 hours before re-processing anything.

  15. I was canning hot sauce and did a boil bath for 30 minutes. I let the jars completely cool down for several hours then I did the finger test. As I did the finger test some jars were not sealed but the lid did not pop back up creating a seal. All the jars seem sealed now as I did the finger test again the morning after. Could they be sealed properly now?

  16. I made cherry jam with our tart cherries, first time canning ever and a few of the lids I messed with by pressing them instead of waiting on them to pop on their own. I don’t know which jars those are now, how do I know if they are properly sealed now? Does pushing on them too early cause them not to seal properly?

  17. I made salsa a week ago while in water bath the water flowed over and put out the flame soon as we discovered it we lit the burner returned to boil and started our time again. Is it safe? Also same salsa had to much head space I was leaving town so I tossed it in the refrigerator can I reprocess it now a week later?

    1. Have you ever had a jar partially leak during the processing and still seal? I put up some dills last night and I feel maybe I hadn’t tightened the lids enough on 2 of the jars and they fell over during the processing and leaked – one significantly leaked out about 2 1/2 inches of brine and the other about 3 inches of brine. It has been 10 hours since I processed those dills. Should I discard the brine altogether and make new brine and reprocess or just throw them out?

  18. How many times can I ‘re process…my jars are leaking when I take them out of water bath.. bad seals??

    1. I wouldn’t re-process more than once. To make sure the jars don’t leak next time you will need to make sure they aren’t packed too full and have ample headspace, plus the lids will need to be very tight. After a second re-process if they don’t look right I would just stick them in the fridge and use.

  19. Why do I not hear the same ping when I water bath as I do when I pressure can?
    My water bathed jars sealed but I never hear them.
    Is this normal?

      1. These were peaches and I water bathed them. They looked sealed.But never heard a ping. They have not sit long enough for me to test the jars.

  20. I made a small amount of tomato jam and just intended to keep it in the refrigerator and eat it later that week. I filled some clean canning jars (because the recipe said glass jars or plastic containers could be used) with the jam, let it cool a bit, put the lid on, and put it in the refrigerator. At some point in the refrigerator, I suppose the lid sealed because it had an indention that popped up when I opened it. Is this safe to eat?

      1. It has only been in there for three days. Before I put the lid on the jar, it set for a little while to cool (I didn’t want the jar to break or anything) I had opened the jar earlier today and it smelled fine, but I was a little worried because my knowledge of food preservation is limited and I didn’t want to make myself sick. Thank you for responding

  21. I was checking the seals on my jelly after they sat overnight. A few of the lids popped down when I checked them which I understand creates a false seal. But when I lift the jars by the lid they are holding strong, so now I am confused. Will a false seal hold strong like a good seal? I was getting ready to reprocess but don’t want to take the time if I don’t need to.

    1. Yes, even a false seal can create a hold. It’s better just to be sure that they are sealed properly. I would either re-process or place in the fridge and enjoy.

  22. I canned salsa did not leave in water long enough, cans all sealed should I redo in hot bath even though they are sealed

  23. I heard a pop noise when I was in my kitchen, so I checked the jars of salsa that I had canned a week ago and there was a jar that unsealed. I put it in the refrigerator right away, but I am still concerned as to whether it is edible or should I just throw it out?

      1. I had the same thing happen and I am wondering if just dumping it in a saucepan and boiling it for 10 min would kill any possible spores if there had been a false seal since that’s what you are supposed to do with green beans anyway just to be on the safe side. Also, even if it was a false seal, if it was good and tight and sealed enough that the lid was tight until the moment it popped, wouldn’t that have kept anything from contaminating it?

  24. I’ve only been canning for a few seasons and don’t feel very experienced, so I’d love some advice! I just canned apple pie filling this afternoon and thought I’d left enough headroom, but now I’m noticing that in several jars the apples are touching the lid inside. The jars seem to have sealed but sound dull when I tap on them. Do you think they’re ok or do I need to scoop out some apples and reprocess? Thanks!! 🙂

  25. Pressure canned 13 jars of salmon today for the first time. 100 minutes. Pressure 12lbs. It did seem like 12 jars had already sealed before I took them out of the canner, they all had a concaved lid. 1 still had the raised lid. I thought as they cooled I would hear a popping. They have been out almost 4 hours now and nothing. Can I assume they did seal in the canner? Or should I wait till completely cool and try pressing or the spoon test?

  26. Possible crisis! I am new to canning, doing it alone for the first time this gardening season. Last weekend I was pressure canning spaghetti sauce. It was late in the evening so I was jotting down on a paper what time the next phase needed to start. I just realized I only pressured my quarts of sauce for 10 minutes! I called my mom this morning and she suggested emptying the jars into freezer bags and freezing it all ASAP. It has been exactly a week … is it still good?! The jars were all sealed. It smelled okay I think but I am so upset I am sure I’m looking for a problem/foul smell. So much work into these jars of sauce … I’m devastated at this potential problem. Do you think they are okay? I have already vacuum sealed them into bags and into the freezer. Thank you for your input.

  27. Hello! I am fairly new to canning as well (1 season; mother and grandmother are seasoned ‘vets’ at it, though!), and had a question regarding my Apple Butter. I used half-pints, and processed 25 jars in total. The first time, only 10 did a successful ‘pop’ while 5 gave a false seal. The remaining did not even attempt to seal. I changed all of the lids to the 15 in question, cleaned the jars and all again, re-processed them within the 24 hour limit, and only 3 out of the 15 sealed. The rest did not. They didn’t even attempt to seal.. I can’t seem to find any imperfections, and left enough head space. My husband and I finally put the remaining jars in the fridge overnight, and now they are all sealed. Should I still freeze them? Or would they be considered correctly sealed? I think I may know the answer… But not positive! Thank you!

  28. How do you know if you have a false seal? I jarred my first batch of spaghetti sauce recently and I went to take one out today, and I was told that you can check your seals by picking the jars up a couple of inches by the lid only (without the ring) and if they open then you know your seal is broken. I did that the day after, however, I just went to open one and did the check again after taking the ring off and it opened right away. I didn’t hear a sound at all when opening it. I think that one’s off…

    I then opened another jar, and as soon as I turned the ring I heard a loud popping sound, that one barely smells like anything, as opposed to the first jar that smells strongly of spaghetti sauce (not off- just strong). Anyways! Now I’m rather paranoid…. I put the second jar in the fridge and think it’s fine – I am just wondering if it’s normal for a seal to break when you only take the ring off… Any help would be appreciated! Thanks<3

  29. The spoon theory must be backwards. I just canned 14 quarts of stew. 10 of them make the dull sound, 4 ‘ping’. by pushing on the lids, I could see that the 4 that ping were not sealed. I tested my jars by actually opeing one that was dull and one that pinged. the one that pinged was not sealed.

    Wouldn’t it make sense that if the jar is ‘properly’ sealed that the sound would be ‘dull’, there would be no air left in the jar to allow for the noise to reveberate back as a ping.

    Confused……

  30. So, here is my problem… I canned jalapenos two weeks ago for the first time. I am new to canning, and being that my husband goes through so many jars of jalapenos I thought I should start canning them too. They all sealed, and after a few days I placed them into a small jelly cabinet with my other canned foods. I opened the cabinet today to put some newly processed jars in and when I opened the cabinet I could smell peppers. I picked up one of the jars and took of the ring and smelled the rim of it. Although it is a perfect seal, it seems that the “heat” of the peppers is escaping and it’s quite noticable. Has anyone else had an issue like this? Are these okay to keep, or should they be tossed?

    Any advice would be greatly appreciated!!!
    Kayla

  31. I came across this post from Pinterest. I always read comments, because so often there is additional information that wasn’t originally included.
    I am a self-taught canner — both water-bath and pressure-canning. Something that I think is highly overlooked in processing instructions is how important it is to make sure that the rim of the jars are clean, clean, clean! This, I believe, is the biggest contributor to failed (or false) seals. (Of course, NEVER re-use lids. Ever. EVER.)
    As a rule, I use a paper towel moistened with white vinegar (instead of water) to wipe the rims before applying the seals and rings. It is a rare thing that I don’t have sealed jars — vinegar cuts through oil, grease, fats and removes residue like nobody’s business!
    I also want to stress – especially with pressure canning (meats, low-acid vegetables, etc.) — that it can take quite a long time for those jars to ‘ping’ as they are so hot when removed from the canner. The vacuum is created as the jar adjusts from the hot contents to the cooler surrounding air. Any that are not sealed within 12 hours probably need to go into the fridge for immediate use, or reprocessed. Canning is ‘easy’, if you have a mentor. It can be really scary if you’re continually unsure of the safety of the food you put up. But don’t let that deter you. Find resources, seek advice, and learn this old time method that allows you to feed your family for a season, or for years. Really enjoyed your post, thank you!

    1. This was very helpful. I may not be as careful as I need to be with cleaning the glass rim. The suggestion of using vinegar is great!

      This weekend I canned 40 quarts of tomatoes, and six of them failed to seal, and am now reprocessing with new lids.

      I am a neophyte, but love canning, but it is a lot of work!

  32. I canned cabbage in qt jars with salt, vinegar & sugar, 1tsp of each. I used hot jars & lids, did not process in boiling bath but jars sealed. Three dys later 5 out of 6 lost their seal. What can I do? This is supposed to be sauerkraut…my 1st try!
    Please email with answer. Thank you!

    1. It’s hard to say what happened. The jars could have not had a strong seal to begin with or gotten bumped while they were sealing. In any case, unless you’ve kept them in the fridge they would no longer be safe to eat. Hopefully you have better luck next time!

  33. I cooked some tomatoes and put them in a half gallon canning jar just to hold them. When I put a canning top on the jar it sealed by itself. Is it safe to keep out of refridgeration?

  34. Yesterday, I canned/pickled banana peppers – following all of the instructions. One of my jars didn’t “pop”. Instead of putting this jar in the pantry for later use, can the pepper jar be put into the fridge for “now” use? If they can be eaten now, how long can they be in the fridge before we toss them?

      1. Thanks. My son was messing with the lid when I told him the top didn’t pop. Does that make any difference with the safety issue?

        1. Also, I did the canning yesterday afternoon and the jars have sat on the counter since then. I will be putting the jar into the fridge when I get home from work. Again, any safety issue?

          1. I guess that would be a judgement call. Personally I don’t keep anything that was left on the counter longer than overnight.

  35. I just canned tomato sauce for the first time yesterday. When I do the spoon test a couple cans have dull sounds, however they appear properly sealed and the lids are concave. If I didn’t leave quite enough headspace are they ok or should I re-can? Thanks!!

  36. I am having problems getting my jars to seal. By the tests, the seals were adequate, but when I pulled on them, they came off the jars. I did pull pretty hard. When I have a correct seal I have to use a can opener to get them to release.
    I used old, unused seals. I had them in simmering water until I put them on the jars. (I processed twice in water bath and once in pressure canner with different lids each time. )I am so disappointed because I bought them thinking I was getting a great deal. 🙁 How long do the lids last?

  37. I made Apple Pie Filling on Tuesday they all seemed to seal fine. Now today which is Thrusday I heard 2 of them unseal. What I am wondering is if I should throw out or freeze the filling? Thanks

  38. I’m canning for the very first time. Apple butter, which I finished late last night and stored over night in a sealed container in the refrigerator. This morning, I tossed the apple butter in a crockpot on high while I sanitized everything and got water to boiling. When I put it in the jars, it was “uncomfortable hot” when it dropped on my fingers (as opposed to last night’s “potential burn center visit hot”), other than just wiping the rims (totally trying the vinegar wipe on my next attempt), I cannot figure out why none of my jars sealed. How hot does the apple butter need to be to reprocess? Any ideas other than sticky residue about what I did to epic fail here? Thanks for all the great info!

  39. I’ve just canned my first ever thing!! Green tomato salsa 🙂 all my jars sealed I think, but I have some small bubbles in the mix. Should mixes be free from any bubbles? I thought I removed them all!

    1. It good to try and remove the larger bubbles before canning (I use a thin spatula) but you won’t be able to remove all of them so some are ok as long as the jar is properly sealed.

  40. I have been canning for many years and I noticed an unsealed jar of apples while making an apple pie. I started looking at the other jars of canned apples and 19 of them had unsealed. I canned these a year ago. What happened?

  41. it looks as though some jam in my jars bubbled up during processing and is touching the lid. Is this a problem if all other checks are okay? Also there are little bubbles in the strawberries.

  42. Another question about my canned cabbage kraut, if I may? When I reprocessed because of the slightly buckled lids, I lost a good bit of liquid. It may have boiled in the jar, during the 20 minutes. Do you think it would be safe to store? I’m thinking of putting all five jars in the refrigerator, but I don’t know how long that would keep it useable either? Thanks for your kind help.

  43. I canned green beans tonight. My pressure cooker only got up to about 4 lb.s of pressure on hight heat and after 20 minutes. I finally just removed it from the heat, took the weight off and took the jars out. They all sealed, but the fact they didn’t get up to the correct pressure scares me. Do I need to open them all and use another seal and lid and try to recant them again? And will the taste of the beans be different and mushy due to over cooking?

    1. Yes, the beans may get mushy with re-canning them. I would stick this batch in the fridge to enjoy now. You may want to have your pressure gauge checked on your canner. You should be able to find someone that could do that by calling your local extension office.

  44. I made homemade dill pickles last night for the first time ever. I used my nana’s tried and true recipe… 4 cups vinegar, 2 cups water, pickling salt, fresh dill, and alum. Per her instructions, I boiled the jars and lods, set them on a clean towel to dry, prepared the brine, put dill, alum and cucumbers in each jar and covered with hot brine to about 1/2 in from the rim of the jars. I placed the lids on, she said to hand tighten but not too tigh, set out overnight and fully tighten in the morning. Set out for two weeks before eating. I’ve read all these comments about listeria and botchulism and now I’m paranoid…. should I put these in the fridge right away? Or leave them out as she instructed? Or should I give them a water bath even though it’s been about 11 hours since they were closed up? How long will it take for the lids to properly seal? Thanks for your help.

  45. I have a couple questions..
    1- When canning tomato juice, do you pressure cook them or hot water bath?
    2- If the jars seal before you pressure cook or hot water bath, are they good to go or do you still have to go through the process?
    Thanks for all the great information for beginners like me!!

  46. I canned peaches and they all sealed. However, in a couple of the quarts the fruit is not suctioned up to the top of the quart. Does this mean that they are not sealed properly? Thank you.

  47. I made homemade tomato/spaghetti sauce yesterday (3 hour simmer). The cans sealed on their own without processing. Does this mean I can store them as I would other canned goods (not in frig or freezer, but in a dark, cool room)? I didn’t intend on having them seal, but now that they have, I’m just wondering. Thanks in advance!

  48. I am a rookie canner…and it showed tonight! When I began earlier tonight, I thought I would just make fresh salsa but somehow along the way, I decided to try to switch to make it a preserved batch by adding more acid and giving each jar a water bath for 15 mins. I did not read until after I was done that the acidic to non-acidic ratio in canned salsa recipes needs to be very precise. Also, my well-meaning hubby did premature finger tests (as soon as they were put on the towel to start cooling) on a number of different jar lids. Basically, it was a bit of a train wreck…but wow, did the salsa ever taste amazing!
    Based on what I’ve read – due to the fact that I did not follow a canning salsa recipe – I should refrigerate it as soon as it is cooled…correct?? If so, how long will the refrigerated salsa be safe to consume?
    Thanks kindly for your time and help!

  49. Hi, I’m a rookie at this but I,ve been around it most my life. Just in the last couple weeks I’ve decided to try pickling okra. My first batch seems to have turned out great, [water bathing] but this second batch maybe not so. I don’t believe I got a good seal. Can I add this batch to my next batch, probably in a few days and try again with new lids?

  50. Canned salsa started popping seals after 2 weeks and when I opened them they fizzed like a shook up pop, one actually blew up in my face. I resealed all of them again but are they still safe?

  51. New to pressure canning. Did meatless spaghetti sauce per usda recipe. Made only 4 pints! When I opened canner, some sauce had dis colored rack and water, and was on outside of jars and around/ under lids. But all appear sealed, and no jar looks to have lost a lot of sauce.

    This was 8 hrs ago.
    Should I reprocess?
    If so, do I have to reheat sauce and start from scratch to have jars hot to put in pressure canner?

    Never hat this issue on years of water bath canning.

    Thanks!

  52. I just finished canning tomatoes, all the seals popped. My concern is that initially,the water bath was boiling over onto my stove, so I lowered the flame, after 45 minutes when I took the lid off, the water was no longer boiling, but there was steam. Do you think the tomatoes are safe to consume? Thank you for any input.

    1. If it hasn’t been long since you processed them or you put them in the fridge you should be able to re-process. They do need to be at a boil through the processing.

  53. I have a question, I made jelly last night and just used elderberry juice, sugar, pectin, and lemon juice according to the instructions. We just followed the directions and then poured the hot jelly into the jars, and then put on the caps. They all sealed because of the heat, but I didn’t do any kind of water bath or anything like that. Are they still okay to keep out, or should we freeze them? What happens if you don’t do the water bath thing?

  54. I canned vegetable soup 2days ago. I opened some last night and the potatoes and pinto beans not totally cooked. Will it still be safe to eat if T boil it for 15 min. before I serve it, or did I ruin 17 quarts of soup? I double stacked them in my pressure canner. I had taken my lid with dial to the extension office to have it checked. It was ok at 11psi.

    1. Hmmm, that does seem odd. If they were canned for the correct amount of time at the correct pressure I’m not sure why they wouldn’t be cooked. What size were your jars and how long were they canned at the correct pressure?

  55. All of my vegetables were not done (potatoes and pinto beans). Is it safe to eat, all of the lids had a tight seal. Can I reprocess them or have I ruined it?

  56. I just canned some tomato soup this week. One jar did not seal and I just put it in the fridge to eat right away. I used pint jars, some with the smaller lids and some with the larger ones. The smaller lids seem easy to tell if they are sealed because the top in caved in, but the larger ones don’t seem to have that indent. When I press on them they don’t pop up and down so it seems like they are sealed. Are the larger lids just different. Any help is appreciated. Thank you

  57. Merissa, I am not a canner, so I am turning to you for your expertise. For many years my now 81 year-old sister has canned peaches and given them to family at Christmas time. They became her signature and she was proud of them. No longer able to travel, for the last few years she has sent them to me to distribute, and I have my doubts about the safety of eating her peaches. A few years ago she said she had forgotten how to prepare them and asked me to find recipes, which I did online. Some years the peaches have been as black as tar, usually they are very watery, but there was always a seal. Last year my husband found mold in a jar which we had half eaten. This year she sent three jars and only one is sealed. I saw that you have given advice to people who discover soon after canning that a seal was broken that they should refrigerate the can and eat it soon or freeze it. So my question is, is it safe to eat my sister’s peach jam? She probably made it around December 20ish, she tried to ship it on December 23 and was told it would go out on Wednesday, December 28. I just received it on Tuesday, January 3, so it was in shipping for 11 days. Thanks for your advice and apologies for the long question.

    1. If it’s discolored or smells offensive in any way, I definitely wouldn’t eat it. Honestly, I wouldn’t eat it if you have any questions about it at all. Generally high acid foods will carry some kind of sign that they are not safe (smell) but sometimes it can be hard to tell.

  58. I have done red onion chutney in January. I just opened one of the jars now. It doesn’t taste well. I didn’t cook the onion enough and chutney is very dry. Is there any way to fix it? Can I open the jars, cook the onions again and put to the jars second time?

  59. My daughter-in-law just asked me if new canning lids can be used after she had put too many in hot water?

  60. I’ve been wanting to make my own jam but I don’t know about the canning process. It was super helpful when you described how you can sell if the seal is sealed properly, that if you push the middle of the lid down, and it pops back up, it isn’t done properly. I want the jam to last, so knowing the seals and seams are sealed properly, will make me feel better about the process.

  61. I hit packed dill pickles today and a few of them did not properly. To re process them do I have to remake the brine as well as new clean jars and lids or can I just put in water bath? I forgot to wipe the rims. O could I remove lids tomorrow wipe rims and put in a water bath?

  62. I canned chow chow on Sunday and opened a jar on Monday. The vegetables are crisp. Can I reprocess them today and leave boil a little longer so the vegetables cook some more? It will be 48 hours.

  63. My brother brought me some pickled walnuts from Victoria bc Canada. To Oliver be Canada. As he was travelling he heard the seals of the lids popping.

    The lids are all popped up now. What can we do about this.

    We know it’s from the altitude change from sea level to mountain level.

    Thank you for a quick response.

  64. I processed apple sauce in my ball electric water bath for 10 minutes 4 hours ago and should have been 20 minutes. Can reprocess with new lids?

  65. Hi,
    I was making apple sauce last night an I decided to put it in jars today since it was getting very late. I left the apple sauce on the counter, at room temperature, for less than 24 hours. Can I still1. process the jam by reheating it and putting it into jars or 2. put them in the fridge/ freezer and eat them? If I can refrigerate/freeze them only at this point, how long would they last in the fridge?

    1. You should still be fine to reprocess, just be sure and change out the lids. Of course, you can always put them in the fridge as well. In my experience, homemade applesauce lasts about a week in the fridge.

  66. I have a question, we canned some super hot hot sauce the other day, friday I believe and today 5 jars pinged. We checked them all the day after and they all looked to have concave lids, this morning I heard 4 ping so I checked them all by hand, now since checking I heard one more. we are not sure what to do! any recommendations?

      1. they were sealed after first 24hours but some are pinging a second time. do you think safe to leave? safe to re-can?

        1. If they sealed again after the fact I would not consider them safe and if the contents haven’t been stored in the fridge I would not re-can. Sorry!

  67. I’m a beginner canner and my boyfriend and I first attempt canning carrots and potatoes thinking that pressure canning was just an alternative to water bathing. Now realizing that its the safer to pressure can because of the issue of botulism I’m wondering. If we go back and pop all the seals on the carrots and potatoes and process them in a pressure canner will it kill and botulism that has formed and process them right? I’d hate to see all of our work go down the drain. They’ve been sitting in our basement for about a month or 2, and the seals do not seem to be harmed. I believe we only processed them in a hot water bath for like 10-20mins. Please help.

  68. Today was my first time attempting to can . I tried to can up venison and they didn’t seal for me I used my power pressure cooker xl I had thought I did everything correctly, my wife just informed me that i may not of tightened the lids down enough. And can I redo on something like this or not.

  69. I have found out that my potatoes that I have canned about 35 hrs ago didn’t seal and they started to smell can i recant them.

  70. I have canned tomatoes the last few years. I made 6 qts last night and when I pushed on top of lid it went down but did not come back up. All the other times I have done them the lid didn’t go down. Do you think they are sealed since it didn’t come back up or should I reprocess them?

    1. Should have been more specific the had been cooling overnight and I pushed down on the lid this morning. I did the hot water bath on them.

      1. So the lid was not down when they were finished processing and you pushed it down? Personally, I wouldn’t re-process if there is only a few, I would place in the fridge and use them first.

  71. I am brand new to canning. I am learning, but obviously, trying to “figure” this out.
    I am canning peaches and had lids crimp. I reprocessed them because the directions I had said that I needed to “boil the rings” to get the correct seal. So I reprocessed, and apparently in my attempt to get it right, I boiled the rings, which I now see Ball says DO NOT BOIL THEM PRIOR TO CANNING, and making “clearly a rookie mistake” I OVERTIGHTENED the rings. So of course they all buckled….. ugh.

    So my question is …. Can I actually reprocess these a third time? or will the peaches become mush from over cooking? there are 5 jars so definitely worth trying, however should I just refrigerate and say “peaches for dinner”. LOL

    Thank you

      1. I made peach jam and half the lids sealed 100% and the other half appear to be sealed but the “button” isnt down. When pressed lightly they go down and stay down. I took rings off and the lids do not come off easily. Is this still a good seal or should I reprocess them?

  72. Thank you for this I’ve been canning for lease 15 to 20 years and it’s the first time it’s happened to me. I am new at canning jam, this is only my second time I did buy jars from the store and the lids were already attached. I think that what is what the problem was.

  73. Hello,
    My dill pickles shrink a lot in the warm bath process and look like I didn’t fill them enough, and also they look wrinkled. Is this normal? I really want them to be crisp and I used a product that’s supposed to do the trick, but they don’t crunch when you bite into them. Ideas on what I can do. I appreciate your advice.

    1. I don’t have any experience with added products to make pickles crisp but yes, they will look a little different after they go through processing.

  74. 5 of my 7 quarts of carrots came out with dented lids after pressure canning. I know the problem and want to reprocess them again. I use the pressure canned again, correct? And can I do this right away or should I wait a few hours? I see it says within 12-24 hours but wasn’t sure if I could do right away. THANKS FOR THE HELP!!

  75. I made home made chili and put it in my Insta pot cooker to can. I couldn’t find book so I just used the canning button on the pot it said 15 min. I found book and I should of processed for 40 min. Do I need to throw it all away

  76. Why shouldn’t I re-attempt to can after 24 hours?
    I had a few jars that didn’t seal last night, so as soon as they reached room temperature again, I put them back in the fridge in order to reattempt them today.
    Because of my work schedule, I can’t re-attempt until about 22 or 23 hours later at the earliest. (That is, I started yesterday’s batch at 4pm, I can start today’s batch at 3pm at the earliest) It seems like having kept them in the fridge should be good enough to keep them safe, but I’d like to know more about why you’re not supposed to re-attempt after 24 hours since I’ll be cutting it pretty close.

    1. If they’ve been in the fridge they should be fine. If they were sitting out on the countertop for 24 hours without being sealed, there is too much of a chance that bacteria has grown.

    1. I’m not familiar with canning salmon but usually salt isn’t a necessary ingredient in the canning process, it’s just for flavor. I would just leave them and add salt later.

  77. I hope this question makes sense! I just used my brand new pressure canner for the first time. I canned 5 pints of chicken broth. The weight on my canner never did move at all, I changed the temperature of the stove and did everything I could find on the internet to do, with no luck. So I did some more research and tested my canner again today with nothing in it but water and it did what it was supposed to. (Not sure what I did wrong yesterday). Although my jars did seal, I am unsure if my jars got canned at the correct pressure. So the question is, is the broth still okay to open up and either use right away or freeze?

    1. I would freeze it and use it when you can. Definitely take your canner into your local extension office (or somewhere else that does testing, sometimes a hardware store) and see what’s going on.

  78. What if you canned, the next day a couple of the cans had not popped like the others but the old was tapped and the centre popped down and lid remained down and sealed like the others?

  79. Question
    I canned some pickled asparagus last year. It all seemed to seal great. However, the other day I took a jar with me to work and it rolled around in my car when I got ready to open it I noticed the seal had popped up. Does that mean they didn’t actually seal? I’ve never had this happen before I’m soo confused.

  80. I’ve been making Salsa for about 20 years now and my recipe says to add 1tsp of lemon juice to each pint jar. But now I’m reading that I should have been adding 1Tb of lemon juice. So I guess my question is should I throw away all my jars that are already made? From now on, I’ll be adding 1Tb of lemon juice:)

    1. It would depend on the recipe and the other ingredients. If you aren’t sure about a particular recipe, take it into your local extension office and have them look over it to check it for safety.

  81. So this is not really a question or comment about canning, I’ve been pretty successful in that area! But my question is about your picture at the top of the post. I NEED to know what kind of green beans those are! I’ve been trying to find them for over 5 years with no luck! 🙁

    1. I believe those were Old Homestead Pole Beans. I’ve been collecting the seeds and replanting them for a few years so I forgot, but that sounds right.

  82. I threw out all my generic lids and now only buy brand name like Ball. I don’t usually buy brand names but found these seal the best. Even with new lids and reprocessing these generics do not work. They seem thinner and the rubber rim not as thick.

  83. Hello, I could not get my jiggler to continually jiggle while canning salmon tonight. I started over twice.. total processing time was around 3hrs but without the jiggling. It would build up pressure, rapidly jiggle and then release steam and do that in spurts every 15 seconds. I just don’t know what the pressure was at. I took my jars out as it’s midnight now and don’t know what else to do.. they are sealed but should I be reprocessing them? I was going to go buy a different canner tomorrow, one with a gauge on it.. can I put the sealed jars in it as is or do I need to open them and redo it? I can’t waste this fish.. my husband caught about 10 pink salmon and will be choked if they go to waste. Please help. What do I do?

  84. I used the finger method and the lids popped back up, i was upset and decided to let the jars cool so i could replace lids and re-process my salsa. I pressed on the lids one more time after cooling and the lids pressed down but never popped back up. I turned over the jars and shook them a few times but the lids never popped back up. They act sealed now, but I’m a little nervous about weather or not I should change the lids and reprocess or if they are good. Im pretty new to canning and am looking for some tips and advice.
    Thank you
    Charles

  85. My family has been using the hot water method to can potatoes for years. Today I just found out in the middle of canning my potatoes I should be using a pressure canner. I do not own a pressure canner and it will take 3 days to get one out to where I live. All my potatoes are already jarred and some are bathing. Can I put the ones not in the bath in the fridge for 3 days or will they no longer be good?

  86. My tomatoes were processed for almost 6hrs because a timer didn’t get set, are they ok? Is there such thing as over processed foods? This was done issuing the water bath method.

    1. Yes, certain foods can get mushy when they are overprocessed. For tomatoes you might just want to blend them into a sauce once you start to use them, they might be ok that way.

  87. Regarding using re-usable lids and gaskets vs. using disposable lids, I have a question. If the re-usable lids and gaskets are (or may be) unreliable, that leaves us with disposable varieties, and then you have to always be buying new ones every season. If we are talking about a potentially catastrophic societal situation, then it seems it would be wiser to have re-usable materials for the simple reason that you can’t expect the lid making factories to still be producing disposable lids, or perhaps no one would be able to afford to buy them anyway. Any thoughts?

  88. Hi. I am enjoying your posts. I am a first time caner and am learning a lot here. I purchased some jars with lids in 3 different sizes. I have to shop about 3 hours from my home. It was a very hot day and the lids started popping on the way home. I just water bathed some tomatoes and two of the jars came out already sealed. I am waiting for them to cool off to do your testing method. What are you thoughts on the lids popping in the car? Thanks so much.

  89. Does salsa have to go through hot water bath. Or can I put hot salsa into hot jars then top with hot seals and rings

  90. I am new to canning this year and just made jalapeño jelly. All of the lids popped within an hour. I had two jars that I very slightly touched the lids and that is when those two lids popped. Now I am not sure if they are sealed good or not. The lids look and feel sealed and they do not move up and down. Any suggestions what I should do with those two jars?