Tomato Float, Tomato Seperation and other tomato related Problems when WaterBath Canning

Tomato Float, Tomato Separation, Air Bubbles 
These are such a common question's

"Why does my preserved foods have air bubbles? "

"Why did my tomatoes separate from the liquid?"

"Why is there liquid on the top tomato on the bottom or vise-versa"?

There are a few different types of bubbles when you preserve food. The first we will talk about is the one's you notice when you are canning things like Apple Sauce or other type of fruit sauces

With these type of fruit sauces they are more viscous than your regular jams. No matter how much you try there always seems to be some of those bubble creep up. These bubbles are harmless and will not cause any problem. Please make sure you have followed the directions for cooking and water bath times.

If you see that the bubbles in your are alive that means if they zip out to the top of the jar when you open it and fizz THROW IT OUT! That means that a bit of fermentation has been going on in your jar.

Now let us get to the topic of Tomato's. For many a year I have picked over 150 pounds of tomato's every Labor Day Weekend. Roma Tomato's and as most canning persons know these are perfect for so many thing's. Stewed tomato's, tomato sauce, dried tomatoes. It is endless but so worth the time it takes when you have the jar's all through out the year.

This was the first year I got any tomato separation.  Yup it happened. I freaked out because I thought for sure it was the tomato's fault. Stupid Tomato!!!


I went to a few different sites to research this. You know I do this because quite often there are more then one reason or answer.  What you may have done when canning may be different but we both ended up with the same results.

The University of Illinois said that you can get the Liquid at the top Solids at the bottom by juicing the tomatoes prior to heating them. An example is tomatoes were chopped, run through a steamer, sieve or food mill while still raw and prior to heating. When you do that the enzymes start to break down the pectin that helps to hold tomato cells together. That causes the separation.

Another thing is what I did which causes the same problem. It only happened with one batch and the batch it happened to was the one I cooked Saturday night let it sit in the refrigerator overnight then warmed it up the next day to can. There in lies the problem. Just heat and can!

The solution is to leave the tomato whole or large chunks. The recipe that I use is very old school and you do not peel or seed. Just chop and cook. This has been very successful for me in making my sauces and stewed tomatoes in the past. Here is the link to that recipe for Marinara Sauce. 

Oh and the reverse can happen also. Liquid at the bottom and the solids on the top. Well this means you did to much preheating. The thing is that you can just shake the jar prior to using and the liquids will come together. Please make sure you have used all the safe rules for water bathing your tomato's. I sure hope this helped.

Disclaimer: This is not an all inclusive recipe for making jam. You should have a basic knowledge and understanding of the canning process before proceeding. Please consult your local Center for Home Preservation for additional information and available classes. 


Blackberry Mango Jam

This Blackberry Jam is so tartly delicious. I do so love when we can combine a few flavors to get another person's palate wondering what is that! Jam making has become a true love of mine and the longer I do it the more in love with it I am. So let us get started with this simple and delicious jam

This will yield about 8 to 10 half pints of jam


6 cups of blackberries
3 cups of chopped mango's
4 cups granulated sugar
1/4 cup of fresh lemon juice
1 tablespoon of cinnamon (optional)
1 box powder pectin or not (get it to a gel point no pectin)

Get your Stainless Steel pot ready and put your Blackberries and chopped Mango together in the pot. Bring them to a nice simmer. You will see the blackberries breaking down and the juice just bubble with excitement.

Take your potato masher or any tool you use to break down the fruit and start to break them down.
You want to make the consistency of your jam to your liking. I like my fruit only broken down enough to make sure I get a nice bites of fruit in every bite. That is why we call it "jam"

Once you have it to the right consistency add your lemon juice and let this simmer for 5 minutes.
Now add you pectin mixture to the batch and turn up the heat. Bring your ingredients up to a rolling boil that can not be stirred down.  Keep stirring you do not want to burn the jam. Once the boil is up add your sugar and bring it back to a rolling boil you can not stir down. Get your jam to the gel point and turn the heat off. Let your jam sit for 5 minutes while to get your clean warm jars ready.

 Fill your jar until they have 1/4 inch of head space and wipe the rim clean. Wipe the top clean - seal and twist lid. Process for 10 minutes into water bath.

When done lift out of the water bath and let cool overnight or at least eight hours. Label and store no twist tie left on. 

Disclaimer: This is not an all inclusive recipe for making jam. You should have a basic knowledge and understanding of the canning process before proceeding. Please consult your local Center for Home Preservation for additional information and available classes.     


Nectarine Marmalade

Nectarine Marmalade this recipe was quite an adventure in it's self. As most of you know I do a lot of investigating prior to getting any jam started. I go from book to book the internet and then to old reliable recipes from granma.

This Nectarine Marmalade Recipe was not easy, most recipes only call out for juice of one lemon maybe a bit of orange. I like true marmalade's that means citrus vs. fruit in a jar. What taste comes out the winner is the palate decision. Yes these delicious little nectarines came to us from Washington Fruit Commission through their Sweet Preservation Site.

Let's get our citrus ready now.

Ingredients for 7 half pints

8 cups of chopped nectarine
1  cup of thinly slices lemon peel
1 cup of lemon pulp
1/2 cup fresh lemon juice
3 to 4 cups sugar (depends on your taste try it after 3 it does get pungent the longer it sits)

It is important to not skip this step.

Now take the slices and cut them into quarters. Put the slices in 1/2 cup of the lemon juice bring this up to a simmer and then add the 1/4 tsp of baking soda. It will bubble. Turn it down and let it simmer on low for 20 minutes this tenderizes the rind's.

Have your cup of lemon pulp ready, It is super easy to get the rind out . I went to a class in Oakland at the Still Room and here is the link to tell you how to Section your Citrus.

Start your batch by putting your clean chopped nectarines into a non-reactive pot and turn the flame on medium heat.

Now add all your citrus and rinds. Smash your nectarines while they are cooking in the juice as  it begins to thicken. There are a few ways of doing this. You can mush or use an immersion blender while they are cooking. They do thin out while cooking no matter how you cut them.

Bring everything to a rapid boil and start to add your sugar one cup at a time. Between cup's stir and let the sugar dissolve prior to adding another cup. Do this until all the sugar is added and then bring it back up to a rolling boil.

With Marmalade the citrus has pectin in it naturally so if you bring it up to the proper gel point 222 degrees you will have perfect Marmalade.

Now it is time to scrap the foam off and get to jarrin' up. Turn off the burner and let your jam sit for 5 minutes this helps the fruit not to float to the top of the jar once water-bathed.

Scrap off the foam and have your jars ready.  Ladle into 1/2 pint jelly jars till 1/4" from the top of the jar. Wipe your jars clean and cap and water bath them for 12 minutes.

Take the jams out of the water bath and let them cool overnight. Once cooled take  the ring off wash and store in a cool spot. Your jam's will be good for 6 to 9 months. Once open put them in the refrigerator and enjoy.

Disclaimer: This is not an all inclusive recipe for making jam. You should have a basic knowledge and understanding of the canning process before proceeding. Please consult your local Center for Home Preservation for additional information and available classes. 


Nectarine Butter

Nectarine Butter smooth sweet taste. I received my delivery of Nectarines from Washington. We have to thank once again Sweet Preservation for making us a part of the Canbassador Program. The opportunity to share these great recipes and use their fruit is truly an honor.

Nectarine Butter was a tricky one there were many a recipe and they all are different and yes I did take two or three of the recipes and tweak them a bit. I thought about how delicious some Nectarine Butter would be with a touch of vanilla bean and brown sugar. Ok the thought of Vanilla Ice Cream went with that thought. Well I did not disappoint myself.

This is a simple recipe no peeling just chop add your ingredients and done. Like all butters it does take time to get the fruit to cook down plus you want it to be as smooth as possible. I did not use a food mill or food processor. I just mushed, cooked and mushed more. Well let us get started.

Ingredients -App. 6 half pints

7 cups of chopped nectarine
2 cups brown sugar
Diluted lemon juice for chopping
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon vanilla powder or "pure" vanilla extract

Diluted lemon water to coat to prevent browning.

Clean and chop your nectarines. Size is unimportant they will break down. Mine were cut in slices and smaller. Take your chopped/slcies nectarines pieces and put them into a large non-reactive pot.
Coat the nectarine pieces with a bit of the lemon water you used to keep your pieces fron browning.
You want enough liquid to get the cooking process going and prevent the nectarines from sticking to the bottom of your pot. About an 1/4 inch of liquid. Keep the flame on medium and turn the pieces to get them coated.

This is about 15 minutes into the process

See the beautiful liquid that has been produced from the fruit itself. And it will get thicker as you continue the process. Fun right? 

You should have enough liquid to after about 15 to 20 minutes of slow stirring on a low to medium flame.

Now it is time to smush you know I love my potato smasher tool-thing. Smush how ever you must. My way or use a food processor or a Food Mill. My whole thought process when making jam is to keep as much of the vitamins and flavor as possible. If it can be left in the jam and you get a mouth full of texture the better.

 Let's start to add ingredients. Add you brown sugar, cinnamon and vanilla.

 I make my own Vanilla Powder. I use the Vanilla Pods that I had in my Vanilla Extract. What I do is when the Vanilla Extract is ready I remove the extra pods scrape them and let the goop dry. I will also take the pods and put them into my pestle and grind what I can. Thus Vanilla Powder.

 It should take you about a good hour or two to get this butter right. You can do the same test you would do with a regular jam. The cold spoon plate test. 

Mine was so delicious an the texture was perfect. It looks a bit applesauce like and well I love texture.

Let's jar up. Take 7 half pint jars that are clean and warm from the water bath and fill them to 1/4" from the top of the jars. Wipe your jars rims clean and seal. Water bath the little jar's for 12 minutes. Remove when done and let cool overnight or at least 12 hours.

Once all done wash your jars and store labeled and with no twist band.

Disclaimer: This is not an all inclusive recipe for making jam. You should have a basic knowledge and understanding of the canning process before proceeding. Please consult your local Center for Home Preservation for additional information and available classes.     


Peach Pie/Cobbler Filling Recipe by the Pint

Well I did get my Peaches from Washington and they are heavenly. Only 16 survived the trip but of those we got a good 5 pints.

I searched the internet for day's prior to my peaches arriving and geezzz if I saw one more Peach Pie filling in 2 quarts or 7 quart sizes I thought I might scream. Ok I did scream!

Thank you Sweet Preservation for having theses beauties sent to me. Peaches from Washington oh Yum!

I thought about how many people who do preserve food might not want to make a whole peach pie. Perhaps they are just two people and want a smaller quantity. So I have taken the recipe and revised it to be able to make pint jars. Pint you say! Yes, and this is a great thing because I know that many people like to make individual size desert's. This is good for parties or little ones or just me!

 A few things I need to review with you is first the peeling. I read on all the sites to put them into boiling water for 30 seconds to 1 minutes. This is a good method BUT these peaches did not want to peel or let go of their pit. Little devils. They do say over ripe peach peel easier.I will research reasons for this in another post. All I did was use a sharp paring knife to peel them and then proceeded to chop them.

Why chop Canrella? Well, the recipe is for cobbler and small peach pie pockets. Chopped just seemed to make since. Also I am using pint jars they will fit and fall out of the small mouth jars better.

Plus my idea is for little peach pie pockets or individual peach cobblers. Not everyone can eat or want a whole peach pie.

Next the big question how do I keep the peeled peaches from getting yellow/brown while waiting for me to finish the peel and chop phase. Many a website called out for Fruit Fresh, Syrup, ascorbic acid crystals, 500 mg vitamin C. STOP the madness see the container next to the one holding my chopped peaches?

That is a mixture of one lemon squeezed into the water so while I am peeling I can coat and turn the slices and I dip my clean hands in it.

There is so little lemon in the mixture or used that you never even taste the lemon in your pie filling.

 Ok let us get started gee wizzerz this is a lot of information but I had never made a pie filling so it is my first time. Thank you Washington Fruit Commission for sending me these lovely little peaches. For more recipes and information about there great fruits go here. And look at the Chef's who took the seasonal fruit and made some outstanding dishes. 

Ingredients - Yields 5/6 pint jars

8 Cups of peeled and chopped peaches - I had 16 large Washington Peaches luck me
1 cups of white granulated sugar
1 cups of brown sugar
1 teaspoons cinnamon or nutmeg
1 cup cold water
1/4 cup of lemon juice
1/2 cup clear jel

Also this is my first time using Clear Jel ! Yet another post wow I am learning so much new stuff. I will link you to the resources I used on the bottom of this post.

Clear Jel magic there are old school ways of thickening up your peach filling. Flour, cornstarch but this product is made for this process. Have everything ready. Your jars, water-bath, measured out ingredients this goes quickly. Alright once your peaches are cut and ready to go. This recipe is a do it one step after another no delays.

Combine your water, suger, clear jel and spices into a large pot.
Stir on medium heat until your mixture begins to thicken.

Keep an eye on this it can thicken quickly and then you are left stirring out clumps.

Alright once it begins to thicken add your lemon juice. Stir and bring it up to a soft boil. Turn the heat down to low and add your peaches carefully coating the peaches until they are coated and the mixture is combined.

Get your jars out and start to fill right away. Don't rush just don't wait!

Look at the beautiful liquid it is very exciting !

Fill your jar's leaving 1" head space. Get rid of the bubbles/air pockets. Wipe the rims top with lid and screw top and water-bath those babies.

These get water-bathed for 30 minutes more than most jams we make but we must go with the expert's!

I adapted this recipe from the National Center for Home Food Preservation. There were so many variables out there that I went to my go to expert's.

Disclaimer: This is not an all inclusive recipe for making jam. You should have a basic knowledge and understanding of the canning process before proceeding. Please consult your local Center for Home Preservation for additional information and available classes.    


How to smash your fruit for Canning

There are two tool's I use for smushing my fruit in jam's. I know smushing is not a word but it is as close as this girl can get. I love my jams with pieces of fruit that can pop in your mouth. Jam is something that deserves real pieces of fruit.

So back to the topic. What I use to thin out the fruit you ask?  The potato smasher that is my go to when I do not want to loose the quality of great jam pieces. I use this for most of my berry jam's.

To the right you see where I used it to smash my peaches that I used in my Blueberry Peach Jam. I sliced the peaches but need them broken down just a bit more. The potato smasher was perfect for his jam.

Here I just worked around the lemons. Yuppers I just slice those beauties and in they go. this way I get the pectin, and real lemon flavors.

Here is the link for the consumer reviews on many immersion blenders Immersion Blender Reviews


Blueberry Pineapple Jam

Blueberry Jam with Pineapple Recipe this is a winning combination. I seem to always mix up my jam's. The season is here and all jam's we make right now are like a candy store delight.

This Blueberry Pineapple Jam is a simple jam as are most once you get the hang of preserving jam.

So let us create some Blueberry Pineapple Jam.

I found a tool that cuts the Pineapple and it is so simple and easy. Cutting is always what held me back from using pineapple. When I cut is I come out with about 30 % less then when using this tool Avon Pineapple Cutter


6 cups of blueberries
3 cups of chopped pineapple
4 cups of sugar
1 box powder pectin
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice

Once your fruit is measured put it and the lemon juice into a large stainless steel pot and bring to a rapid boil. Please stir it so it does not burn.

Look at the beautiful color change as it cooks.

Mix pectin with half cup of your sugar I find when it is mixed it incorporates better. Once your fruit is at a rolling boil add your pectin mixture and bring back to a boil.

Add the sugar into the fruit mixture and cook over high heat continuing your boil, stirring constantly. Continue until your have reached the gel point.

 Remove from heat. Skim and stir to remove foam. Ladle jam into hot jars  leave 1/4 inch head space. Wipe the rims and seal.Give them a 15 minute bath.

 Disclaimer: This is not an all inclusive recipe for making jam. You should have a basic knowledge and understanding of the canning process before proceeding. Please consult your local Center for Home Preservation for additional information and available classes.