Why did my jars lose liquid
I tried canning for the first time yesterday. I had collards from my garden. I flavored them with smoked turkey so I had them process for ninety minutes. After waiting for the pot to release pressure, I took them out to find the jars had leaked out almost half of their liquid into the pot. I put the jars on the cooling board and all of them sealed, but are they safe to eat? What could have caused this (I know the jars had the proper head space and I tightened the lids adequately...I think)???? I don't want to throw them out, but I don't know if them losing that much liquid has compromised their safety.
Polk County Florida
I love your sense of adventure in canning for the first time yesterday! Sorry to hear about the issue. There are a number of potential causes of loss of liquid from the jars.
1. Lowering pressure in canner suddenly after the processing period. Make sure you are not forcing the pressure down by placing the canner in a draft, undera a fan or ac, opening the vent too soon or force cooling (setting pot in ice), etc. After the pressure drops to zero naturally, wait two minutes before opening vent or removing weight. Wait an additional 10 minutes before removing lid.
2. Fluctuating pressure during processing. This is hard for some folks to watch the temperature/pressure during the entire 90 minutes without walking away or becoming distracted!
3. Failure to work out air bubbles from jars before processing. Use a plastic spatula or plastic knife to release air around food and jar.
4. Improper seal. Did you follow the directions on the back of the lid box? Some say to boil the lids while others say to place in hot water but not to boil. It makes a difference to the sealing compound on the back of the lid.
You mentioned that you left the appropriate head space of 1 inch. Normally we say do not open to replace liquid, it is not a sign of spoilage. But you mentioned that they are only half full. Because the loss is excessive, put them in the refrigerator and use them within 2-3 days or freeze them for later use (not sure how many you have!)
I am drooling thinking of greens with smoked turkey (you are so smart to get the flavor and cut the fat!) I am impressed that you are making sure you have safety as the priority! Please respond if you have additional questions, or you can contact your local Extension office. In Polk Co., the phone number is 863-519-8677.