Saturday 10 September 2011

food preserving - on the learning curve...

Nashi are in season again and there are a lot of nashi orchards nearby but because we are being cautious about where we source our food we have been buying ones grown further afield. One of my favourite jams is nashi and lemon, it is light and refreshing, perfect for the end of summer, the recipe is here but this time I halved the amount of water and put the pips in a muslin bag and boiled it with the fruit so the jam has set better than usual.

Thursday I gave the pantry a re-organise and cleared one of the shelves so that I can keep all the jars on there, I took the preserved lemons that I made last week out of the other cupboard and...

hmmm, obviously I cocked up somewhere! 

Now, I have a question, when I was a kid and my mom and gran made jams and chutneys they would recycle jars, sterilise them, fill them up with the preserve, put in a wax circle over the preserve and screw on the lid. When I asked mom about this she agreed but then let it slip that sometimes there would be a bit of mold on the top when they opened the jar so she would just scrape it off! Urm, is that safe mom? Well you are not dead are you so I guess so!
Anyway, the book I bought and when I have been reading about canning online many people use the split lids and boil the jars with the lid on after they are filled, is this a new method? Is it safer than the ole scrape the mold off the top method? Are there any preserve making experts out there reading this?
Up until now I have just made a couple of small jars and it gets eaten pretty quickly but I would like to make bigger batches, any advice is welcome!


  1. Oh no, sad!! I use the Ball Blue Book as my canning bible, and have had no failed or moldy batches (been canning 4 years now.). Scraping mold off is pretty dangerous- most of the mold is in the food, it's much bigger than what you see on top (I'm sure you already know that :). I always sterilize my jars by boiling them, pull them out of the water and fill with nearly boiling jam, wipe the rim with a clean, warm, damp rag. I put on a fresh lid (that I've softened the seal on in almost simmering water) and screw on a ring i've washed in hot soapy water. Then process in boiling water, fish out, and let the jars cool for a day on a towel where they won't be disturbed. I check the seal, take the rings off, rinse the jars if they need it, and store them in a dark closet.

  2. My mom used to make mango chutney, after filling them and sealing it off, she'd throw the whole thing into a large pot of boiling water. I don't know if that really did anything.. but maybe?
    As for the mold... my family also thinks scooping it out, or cutting off the moldy parts makes it ok. No one's gotten sick from it, but.. just so you know.. the mold actually grows deep down into whatever it's on. It's not just a couple of specks on the top.. it's IN there. :$

  3. yeah, the whole scaping thing made me feel a bit queasy!
    I have never seen the split lids here, I might have to look on the net but then I need the jars too!

    Myrie, so you don't store the jars with the screw bit on?

  4. Hey Jo. I do a lot of preserving and do batches of 2-300 jars of tomato sauce each year. We haven't had any go bad yet. The points I learnt at the jamming centre were-

    1: hot hot jam. The jam is literally still boiling as we put it in. I always get burnt. But it's worth it!

    2. A full 10 min boil on the jars PRE filling. A lot of US recipes say boil afterwords but we only do pre. I'm not sure why 10 mins but it seems to be the rule.
    3. Fill to the top- less air less bad stuff.
    4. Don't let any water get in there. This is tricky with pulling the jars out of boiling water (I use tongs), tipping them upside down, holding them (I wrap a towel around them) filling with boiling jam and screwing on the boiled lid- ouch! But worth it. :)
    5. Don't reuse lids. I don't follow this at home but at the centre they refuse to use any lids again as the lids have a rubbery coating and that takes on teh colour from the sauce and they figure it could harbour nasties.

    HTH and your jam looks fabulous!

  5. Hi,
    it is actually quite safe to remove the mold, since jam is very sugary you can take it off with a security margin of 1 cm, this is different to vegetables, fruit or bread, where it might be dangerous and is very unhealthy to just "cut" the mold off.
    In my home country (Germany) we don´t usually do a hot water bath with jams, we just twist and fill, here is what I do:
    I pop the glasses into the oven at 110°C and boil the lids for a couple of minutes. than I fill the hot jam into them, but you obviously have to touch the lids, therefor they are not sterile anymore, so you just turn the jam upside down (after closing off securely, obviously :) ) and leave it like that. The hot jam (mostly even hotter than 100°C) will sterilize the lids again. I never had a moldy experience ... :) (b.t.w. I love these nashi posts, our nashi tree just collapsed under the weight of all the nashis and we have soooooo many! I´ll try the jam!

  6. When I make jam or pickle relish, which are both thick and have sugar in them, not watery like pickles, I sterilize the jars by putting them through a dishwasher cycle and leaving them in there until needed, then I boil the lids and leave them in the water until needed, then I put the hot jam in the jar one at a time, wipe the rim with a damp cloth, put on the lid and turn the jar upside down on a towel away from any drafts. Then when they have cooled, I turn them right side up and the lids will start "pinging" which indicates that they have a good seal. You can also tap them with a teaspoon to see if they make a ringing sound. If they don't ping, I put them in the refrigerator and use them first. I have also scraped the mold off jams, but never pickles or relishes. HTH, Sue in Fairbanks, Alaska

  7. Thank you for all your words of wisdom, I will try the upside down method, seems logical to me, I have never seen the split ring lids here so if I can find a way of doing it with out forking out for some then all the better.... I will keep you posted, unless I die of food poisoning that is.

  8. When we make jam we wash the jars and then put them in the oven on a very low gas mark (1 at the most) and leave them in until we need them (maximum half an hour) I sterilise the lids by pouring boiling water onto them and then leaving until we need them. We pour the boiling jam or whatever into the jars, pop the lid on and then put the hot jars straight into the fridge. Leave them overnight and the lids will have 'popped' I am going to try and can some blackberries and apples and have bought some kilner jars for this purpose. My mother in law does this and we had some from 2008 last weekend and they tasted gorgeous. She puts the fruit in the sterilised jar with apple juice, seals the lid and then boils it for a bit (not sure how long) and then just puts them in the cupboard. As I say we had some of the blackberries she had done in 2008 the other night and they were yummy. The juice was nice the following morning for breakfast too :)

  9. Yes, the new methods are supposed to be safer. First you sterilize the jars in boiling water along with the lids, then fill with the hot mixture of whatever you are canning. After you put the lids on, you place them in a pot of boiling water covering them about an inch and boil for about 10-15 minutes for jams and fruits depending on your recipe. That way anything icky that got in the jars when you are filling them is killed. It's an extra step but worth it if you don't like surprise mold on your hard work.

  10. Hi Jo,
    I am a brit living in the usa. my mum and i do the old english method (tho' in honesty i don't use wax paper) i don't boil my jam pots after they're full and only bother sterilizing the jars and lids in the d/washer.
    I have jam which has lasted several years in my basement with no mold.
    the US method seems to use the boiling thing which is good for tomatoes etc which don't have the sugar... my grandparents did this in the uk too with fruit etc but not with jam.
    To be honest the mold depends on spores in the air when you're making the jam. so i stick the lids on asap when the jam is so hot it'd kill any nasties in the jar ;o)
    boiling the jam in the jar again seems like belt and braces to me - just a waste of time.
    oh and the split lids - i read recently they have bpa in them... so don't lose sleep over looking for them.... my favourite jars are recycled jam jars from when i buy fancy jam at the shop ;o)
    love the new look of your blog by the way!


  11. thank you everyone, I have new confidence to try again, now I just need some fruit...


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