Tuesday, September 13, 2011

When Canning Just Isn't Worth it: The Spaghetti Sauce Disaster

So as I mentioned in the previous post, our garden is producing like crazy. Of course it happens all at once so it can be a very stressful time of year. This year we've had a bumper crop of tomatoes. Within 5 days we picked 60 lbs of them! Well normally I would just can them as crushed tomatoes because it's fast, easy and versatile. I can do whatever I want with them later. Well this year I decided to be bold and brave and make the tomatoes into tomato sauce before I canned it. I spent several hours processing the tomatoes into the sauce. The first batch I processed the slow way and ended up with about twice the work. All in all I spent about 3 hours making the sauce and then I let it simmer for about 7 or 8 hours. It smelled good and I was excited. Because my recipe had peppers and onions in it, I had to pressure can it. It was too late that day so I decided just to do it in the morning.

The next day I pressure canned my tomato sauce into 9 pint sized jars and then let them cool off. Only 4 or so of them sealed. Frustrated, I put the unsealed jars back in the refrigerator and waited until I had more time to reprocess them. Well the next day I processed them again and this time only 3 out of 5 sealed. More frustration. The next day I made another batch of tomato sauce - this time the quick way only took me about an hour and half and 7 or 8 hours to simmer. I was looking at the recipe and realized that all of my other jars I had pressured at 10 lbs. pressure and I was supposed to pressure them at 15. Aaah! Oh well, I figured I could just re-pressure can them all the next day with my new sauce, this time using quart jars and they'd all fit in the canner at once.

So the next day I started to do just that. But for some reason my pressure canner wouldn't seal right. I was losing steam out the lid and it just wasn't building up the pressure. I figured I'd better open the lid to add more water and when I did, I noticed that one of the lids had popped off the jar (that's never happened before!) so I put it back on and without thinking I went and grabbed some more water to replace what had steamed off - but I made a mistake and grabbed cold water! Ugh! Two of my jars cracked and spilled spaghetti sauce all over the canner. At this point I was really frustrated. I took out all the uncracked jars. Dumped the rest of the stuff in the garbage and put everything away for another day.

The next day I pulled out my canner again and tested it without jars to see if I could get it up to pressure. No luck so I decided to take it in to a fix-it place. They tested the seal on it and said it worked fine, you just had to jiggle it really good to get it to seal. Great...I took it home and gave it a try. Sure enough I finally got it up to pressure when it was empty. Then I when through the whole canning process again and placed my remaining 6 remaining quart jars in the canner and eventually got it up to pressure (after much coaxing). I processed them at the correct pressure this time, took them out and yep, that's right only 4 quarts sealed. I put the remaining sauce in the fridge and gave up. I figured we'd eat them for dinner some night.

Then this afternoon I heard a cry in the kitchen after my six-year-old son had opened the fridge to get out his afternoon snack. When I saw the floor I just laughed hysterically - that's all I could do at this point. In fact, I was actually a little relieved to be quite honest. So....rest in peace, dear spaghetti sauce. I got less than a 50% yield off my 60 lbs. of tomatoes and I don't think I'll be canning spaghetti sauce again any time soon...I figure with time, energy and broken jars, those 4 quarts are probably worth about $100 a piece.


Sarah said...

One of these days I'll have to bend your ear and have you teach me how to can. My mom never has done anything like this, and practically everyone I know cans around here. I feel like I'm missing out on something!

Heather said...

Yeah I'll be glad to teach you anytime. Come on over!

Heather said...

As long as it's not spaghetti sauce!! Haha

NoSurfGirl said...

I would have cried. Did you cry?

Heather said...

No I laughed...I was so relieved. In the future I will stick to my old method of freezing the sauce. :)

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