Sunday, December 22, 2013

Canning catastrophe

With all the excitement around here lately, you may have noticed that I haven't been blogging much. And when I do blog, it's been about the meningeal worm issues we were dealing with. But, of course, life goes on, even in the midst of medical issues with the animals, so I'm going to work on catching up with some of the things that have been happening around here.

In early November our intern Jane was working on canning the apple harvest when disaster suddenly struck. She had already done quite a bit of canning, so I wasn't really paying close attention to what she was doing because she seemed to have mastered the techniques pretty well.

One day she was canning apples and called me into the kitchen when she lifted the lid off the canner and saw this! The lids had blown off some of the jars.

As she lifted the exploded jars out of the canner, the other jars began to float also.

And there were cooked apples stuck to the back of the stove! Obviously they had shot out at a pretty high pressure.

She asked me what went wrong, and I really had no idea. We went over everything she'd done ... filling the jars, leaving head space, tightening the lids, and so on. She had done everything exactly the same as always, and this had never happened before.

When she took the jars out of the canner and sat them on the counter, the apples began to ooze out and run down the sides of the jars. It was also obvious that the apples were floating in the jars, and we could see lots of air bubbles between the apples that had not been there when the jars had been put into the canner. I wonder if the apples were too ripe and some sort of fermentation thing had started to happen, even though the apples didn't seem fermented?

We finally decided that it must have something to do with the fact that these were quartered apples rather than something that had already been cooked, such as preserves or applesauce, which she had made with no problem. Jane decided to make applesauce with the next batch. Unfortunately, the same thing happened again. I searched online and couldn't find anything. I even asked friends who canned, and no one had any ideas. So, if you have any ideas, do share! We'll be canning apples again next year!

Applesauce leaking out of jars after canning
Additional info -- in response to questions asked by a few readers -- (1) Both of these batches were hot pack. (2) No jars broke; only lids blew off. (3) There was one thing different between these two batches and the other canning we had done. These were Granny Smith apples, and it was November, so they were "older" than the Yellow Delicious we had been canning in October. I know canning recipes always say to use fruit at the peak of ripeness, so maybe they were too ripe? Also, our Granny Smith apples are not the type that stand up to cooking. When we make an apple crisp, in only 25 minutes baking, the apples go from slices to the consistency of applesauce.


Carolyn said...

I had the same thing happen when I canned apples this summer/fall, they were chunked. I had two jars crack in the same batch. Not sure if it's the apples (although don't know why it would be) or just inferior canning jars. They were new ones, never been used, don't recall if they were Ball or Kerr. And now that I think about it, I'm pretty sure I had a can of pears crack also. :(

Ilene said...

I had that happen. Did you hot pack your apples or cold pack? I thought it had something to do with there being too much temperature difference between the apples and the water that was in the canner.

After that, I made sure I put my fruit into the jars after they had come to a boil in the water in which they were to be canned. Use a pot that holds seven quarts (or however many jars fit into your canner). Add enough water to cover and then start heating the pot. Ladle just the fruit into the jars first, using a slotted spoon, and when all the fruit is evenly distributed, pour in the liquid that remains in the pot. Be sure to let out the bubbles, wipe the rims, and all that stuff you know you're supposed to do. As soon as you get a jar ready, put it into the canner in water that has also started to boil.

I just wonder if sometimes, when growing conditions haven't been perfect, maybe the apples have cells that are more "open"??

I also noticed that 1: headspace disappears

Deborah Niemann said...

Sorry if my original post was not clear, but none of the jars broke. The lids blew off.

This was hot pack. I remember very clearly the applesauce was boiling when we put it into the jars.

Anonymous said...

I know this is an old post and I hope you have fixed your problem by now. If the rings are screwed on too tightly, the escaping air has no where to go and will cause blow offs. Remember that the rings are only supposed to be "finger tight" no cranking them down.

Deborah Niemann said...

Nope, lids were not on too tight. In fact, you can see in one of the pictures that the apples oozed out while the lid was still on.

I think the apples may have been too ripe.


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