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