Question about botulism

Asked November 10, 2016, 11:06 AM EST

Firstly is there a way to actually test for botulism in a product that has NO visible signs of it. Also, my sister made some Jalapeno jelly using sugar and pectin and jalapenos processed in a blender. It was cooked hot and packed into hot jars. It was not canner processed. I am afraid to eat it. She also made some strawberry jelly this way. My mom always made jelly without canner processing and we never had issues but I am worried......

Jackson County Oregon food safety home food preservation

4 Responses

Unfortunately, there is not a convenient or affordable way to test preserved foods for safety, including the presence of botulism.
It is important to make decisions about consumption of a product based on the ingredients and handling, including processing (heat treatment). We always recommend that people follow a recipe and processing instructions from a reliable source, so they are certain the recipe has been analyzed for safety if the person follows it carefully.
Botulism is a pathogen that grows only in low acid products such as meats or vegetables. It is a great concern because it is so dangerous and gives off no signs when it is present.
Your strawberry jelly is a very low risk product. In a fruit product like that, spoilage would be either mold or fermentation. Both of those are obvious when they occur. If it was piping hot when it was poured into hot jars and the jars sealed it is quite likely that it will be fine.
The pepper jelly is more risky. It's safety would depend on the amount of vinegar and sugar added to the peppers. You didn't mention vinegar at all. Do you know if it was made following a tested recipe? For that product the processioning in a boiling water canner would also be more important.
If you have further questions, let me know. Feel free to call.

Pretty sure no vinegar was used in the Jalapeno jelly. She followed a basic fruit jelly recipe on the pectin box. She probably did use some lemon juice and I know she used the regular amount of sugar called for by the MCP pectin recipe. She made it in June. Do you think if I water bath canned it now it would kill any botulism that might be there? I know it was super clean conditions and it was cooked hot and packed hot because she did it at my house...thank you so much for your time.

I am concerned about substituting peppers for a high acid fruit in a jelly recipe.
It would be difficult to reheat it now to try to destroy any pathogens that might have grown since it was canned. Reheating would also destroy any gelling that has taken place and make it syrupy or clumpy.
It looks like it could be a risky product.

You might be able to get some additional details from Kraft, who manufactures MCP. They have a hotline and know their products well. 1-800-43 PECTIN (1-800-437-3246)

OK I will do that. She also put Dragonfruit in it........I cant find anywhere that says if it is high or low acid fruit....