2 canning questions

Asked September 14, 2015, 11:50 AM EDT

I have 2 questions: 1) I have several half-pint jars of jalapeños that I canned one year ago. What is their shelf life? They will be two years old by the time we get to the end of them. Just wondering if I should can fresh jalapeños to be on the safe side?
2) My mother-in-law taught me to can stewed tomatoes (in own juice) a few years ago. She instructed me to process quarts for 45 minutes in a hot water bath canner. I've never added salt or lemon juice, either, and I've never had any problems with spoilage, even after a full year on the shelf. Last spring, I purchased a Ball canning cookbook. It says to process stewed tomatoes (in own juice) for 85 minutes!! It also said to add 2 Tbsp lemon juice per quart. I'm happy to add the lemon juice, but isn't 85 minutes in a canner a little overkill? I am NOT using low acid tomatoes. It seems like an awfully long processing time, especially when I've never had a problem with processing for 45 minutes.

Traill County North Dakota

1 Response

Hello - Did you can the peppers using a pressure canner? As long as you followed safe canning recommendations, you can safely consume these at the 2-year point. (Technically, they are safe for a long time as long as the processing was done correctly. Keep in a cool, dark place to extend quality) The safe process for stewed tomatoes in juice is correct as you have listed it (85 minutes based on the research testing at the national center for home food preservation). I know that is long, but tomato varieties tend to be less acidic and for safety, the pH of the tomatoes must be less than 4.6. What can you do? Technically, I cannot say that your tomatoes are "safe" based on the lack of added acid and the shorter processing time. You could have the pH tested on campus at NDSU. If you use your canned tomatoes, for safety, you would want to boil them for at least 10 minutes just in case a toxin is present.