View Full Version : Canning questions

09-30-2013, 09:02 AM
I am googling and haven't yet found the answer to a couple of canning questions.

I did some BBQ sauce over the weekend and it has tomatoes, cider vinegar and should be fairly acidic I have a sample in the lab now for testing and should know the pH shortly. I saw on one website that pH under 4.5 doesn't require a boiling water bath. At what pH does it require a pressure cooker? EDIT, FOUND that over 4.6 I already canned it so it will just be a question of where to store if my pH is off.

Also, regarding head space. I filled the jars to the line that said fill here for freezing, I see now that I could have filled more up to 1/4" of the top. I was closer to 1" from the top, I am now wondering if I left too much headspace?

Any comments appreciated.


09-30-2013, 09:05 AM
Ask Cowgirl. She is the pressure cooker guru.

09-30-2013, 09:06 AM
Not sure about the pH. I do know headspace is fine.

09-30-2013, 09:14 AM
Ask Cowgirl. She is the pressure cooker guru.Pretty sure cowgirl won't be able to answer this week as the below was posted on Friday in another thread...

The pit needs to be big enough for the bed of hot coals, the pig and at least 6 inches of space above and on the sides of the pig.
I've not used rocks or bricks in my pits but they would help hold the heat in longer.
Holes in roofing are fine if you can cover them so the dirt doesn't fall into the pit. They might be small enough holes that it wouldn't matter.
Siding works if it's not painted or treated.
I've not used plywood, the pit gets pretty hot, not sure if I would trust it.
I have placed 2x4s across pits and covered with tin to reinforce it.... Works pretty well.

After digging the pig up the next day, it still needs a rest time just like any meat.
Another thing.... place the pig on it's back of possible. The skin will hold in the juices as it cooks. An underground pig's skin isn't crisp like a roasted one but it helps protect the meat and keeps every thing moist.

I'm leaving for a campout either today or tomorrow. Just wanted to let you know in case I disappear from the forum. I won't have computer access for a week or so.

Good luck with the pig, I hope all goes well for you!! :-D

Hope you have great luck with it!

09-30-2013, 09:42 AM
Below 4.7 Do you have test strips? It's gotta be fine though, that sounds pretty acidic.

09-30-2013, 09:56 AM
Head space is fine, and water bath is fine on BBQ sauce. If you don't feel comfortable with the water bath because the acidity might be too low then pop in some Citric acid, "Fruit Fresh" is the easy to find substance. That'll bring your P.H. down. 1/2 Teaspoon per quart.

09-30-2013, 10:00 AM
Adding fresh Lime or lemon Juice will also help. Water bath is a pretty simple process if you have the pot. Just make sure the mason/Kerr jars DO NOT touch the bottom of the pot. there should be a lift in the bottom for them to sit on.

09-30-2013, 10:27 AM
Adding fresh Lime or lemon Juice will also help. Water bath is a pretty simple process if you have the pot. Just make sure the mason/Kerr jars DO NOT touch the bottom of the pot. there should be a lift in the bottom for them to sit on.

Yep, the citrus juices will definitely help. Just be careful doing that. I've seen many people across the internet make post, after post, after post about how their entire batch was ruined because they took something already pretty acidic and dumped a few T.B. of lemon juice in there (way too much for the record) and how it ruined their batch of food.

09-30-2013, 10:36 AM
I added the juice of one lemon at the end to "brighten" the flavor some, plus to add to the acidity. I didn't have a rack for the jars so I used a dish towel in the pot to keep the jars off of the bottom and to keep the jars from hitting each other. The only pot I had tall enough was smaller in diameter so I had to do 4 jars at a time. My sauce recipe made 9 1.5 Pint jars (that I processed) and 1 pint that I used half of on some ribs last night :)

Diesel Dave
09-30-2013, 01:19 PM
You should be fine, with the vinegar and acid of the tomatoes.
Water bath is fine as well.

EDIT: You didn't say how long they were in the WB

09-30-2013, 02:02 PM
Everything sounds good. I made canned some bbq sauce last year but last second used chipolte chili powder instead of regular chili powder....ruined 16 quarts of bbq sauce.

09-30-2013, 02:12 PM
You want to be below a pH of 4.2 and bring the sauce up to 195 F to hydrate / set the starch, the hold for a minimum of 5 minutes. This is your pastuerization. Then fill your jars hot (> 185) and invert to cool. 4.2 isn't all that acidic for a BBQ SAUCE. Most are below 4.0, significantly.

You most definately do need to cook anything with a pH that is higher about 3.6-ish. Even then, at pH's in the mid 3's you need to be concerned with how high the % acidity is to the % of moisture is in your formula, use pretreated low micro count ingredients, and add in preservatives to prevent spoilage.

09-30-2013, 02:46 PM
I am still waiting on pH results from the lab, I'll post up when I get them.

I processed the jars in the BWB 30 to 40 minutes, I made sure they were up to a good rolling boil before I set my timer at 30. I did not invert to cool. The sauce was very hot I had it simmering for a couple of hours before I began to fill the jars and the jars were still hot from being ran through my dishwasher on the sanitize cycle with the lids and rims. Everything was brand new too, I know that doesn't equal clean but they were still sealed from the manufacturer.

Diesel Dave
09-30-2013, 04:30 PM
You're good to go then, I wouldn't worry

09-30-2013, 04:32 PM
pH just came back at 3.92 :)