No lemon juice in canned tomatoes

Asked November 1, 2018, 3:57 PM EDT

My mother helped me can a bunch of fresh tomatoes. We used a water bath for 40 min in pint jars. I read afterward that we were supposed to use lemon juice. My mom says she never has. I’m nervous. Should I toss? They have been stored in my pantry for a month now.

Santa Barbara County California

1 Response

Good morning-

Because most tomatoes have pH values close 4.6 (a pH cut point for Clostridium botulinum spore germination) the latest canning recommendation is to add 1 table spoon of bottled lemon juice or 1/4 teaspoon citric acid per pint of tomatoes before using the boiling water bath canning method. https://nchfp.uga.edu/publications/nchfp/factsheets/acidifying.html

Below are some more information about botulism. I say when in doubt, throw it out!

https://www.cdc.gov/botulism/consumer.html