Canning Bath Not Long Enough

I recently canned tomatoes using the water bath method and realize now that I didn't boil them long enough, only 10 minutes. Can I put them back in the water bath and redo them. I used an old canning book that called for only 10 minutes. I did pack them hot in sterilized jars and and the lids are sealed. Help!

B. from Rutherfordton, NC

August 1, 20070 found this helpful
Best Answer

I've recently been canning tomatoes too, so I can completely understand your concern. I looked in my Ball Blue Book of canning, and I couldn't find anything about reprocessing the food if it wasn't in long enough. It does say this however; If a lid does not seal within 24 hours, the product can be immediately reprocessed. To reprocess the product, remove the lid and reheat the food and/or liquid as recommended by the recipe. Pack food into clean hot jars. Place a new, heated lid on the jar and adjust band. Reprocess the product using the canning method and full length of processing time recommended by the recipe. I don't know if this helps or not, as I know your lids sealed, but the hardest part may be getting the jars reheated. You could always put the tomatoes in new sterile jars and redo them. I did mine yesterday in a water bath for an hour and a half. Good luck!

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August 1, 20070 found this helpful
Best Answer

Thanks for the feedback. I realized I had goofed after buying a Ball Book and saw the new USDA updates. After Googling this subject I did find out I could take the tomatos out of the jars and boil them for 30 minutes. I ended up doing that with 5 quarts and boiled them down to almost puree for 40 minutes. I made a goulash with them and they were fine. We're still alive, LOL. Thanks

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October 9, 20070 found this helpful
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My grandmother taught me to 'put foods by' when I was very young and I have been doing it for close to 40 years now. I never use a pressure canner. I used to water bath all kinds of veggies, but now most of my veggies go in the freezer because processing destroys most, if not all of the nutritive value. But I do can sauces, relishes, pickles of all kinds, condiments, etc., and even jellies and jams (instead of using wax) in the water bath. My grandmother never killed anybody or made them sick and neither have I. My advice is to start counting your time once the water has come to a full, hard rolling boil. When in doubt, process for 10 minutes longer. Also, once the jars have been removed from the water bath and start to cool listen for the caps to 'pop' when you take them out of the bath--this is the lid sealing down. Also, press the lid as soon as they are cool enough to touch. If it didn't seal, you're going to get a kind of hollow-sounding popping sound-if it sealed, there won't be any sound and the lid will feel solid, then screw the rings down as tight as you can. Anything that didn't seal can be put in the fridge to use ASAP. Foods can be reprocessed. Just reheat, put into clean, sterile jars, make sure the top of the jar mouth is absolutely clean before you add brand new caps, put on the rings, and reprocess in the water bath. Always check your jar before opening and using. If it pops when you press it down--for heavens sake don't use it! No amount of boiling is going to make that jar of food safe for eating!

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July 31, 20070 found this helpful

I don't think you can reboil them if they have cooled, since any surviving bacteria can create protective spores that can be more resistant to the next sterilization process.

I did this with jam, with a recipe about 10 years old. Chuck your jars in the freezer if you can, and get friends to do the same so it's not a total loss.

Total bummer, to do all that work and it not come out right, I know.

Let us know what you end up doing?

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August 2, 20070 found this helpful


I had the same Questions a long time ago and my Grand Mother told me to make sure the Tomatoes were HOT enough to start with and you won't have to worry about the jars sealing.I canned someTomatoes this Spring and here's my short cut.I first washed my jars with hot soapy water rinsed about 4 times in hot water and boiled the lids for about 5 minutes on top of the I put all my tomatoes in a big soup pot and boiled them till they were at a rolling boil for about 15 minutes . I took my jars out of hot water,used a large ladle,filling my jars up to the ring at the top.put 1 teaspoon of salt in each jar and capped them.turned them upside down on a towel and let them set till cool..the hot tomatoes melted the seal on the jar lids sealing them completely and that's all it takes..I don't care for the hot water bath method because I've lost too many jars of vegetables with it.I want mine boiled so I know I've killed any bacteria..good luck with your canning.[you can use this method with any vegetable only you have to add water to some things like corn etc.]

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August 4, 20070 found this helpful

A note to Louise: Boiling may kill initial bacteria, but it won't kill any botulism that may end up in the jars from lack of processing. Be safe and use the water canner. And corn along with most other veggies need to be pressure canned, a mere water bath will not render them safe to eat.

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