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Jackie Clay answers questions for BHM Subscribers & Customers
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Jackie Clay

Q and A: Jumping lids and potatoes starting to sprout

Tuesday, May 15th, 2012

Jumping lids

I have been canning for 30 plus years. Recently a strange thing happened while canning chicken. I had sufficient water, timing and waited for the pressure to go down to zero so I could open the lid safely on the canner. When I removed the top, the lids of all six or seven pint jars began flexing up and down rapidly about 6 or 8 times each. I backed up as I thought they were going to explode. After a few minutes it stopped. I let them sit on a towel for 24 hours, washed and dried, then put back in their box. I checked them about 2 weeks later and found about half of all the jars had become unsealed. I tossed all of them not wanting to take a chance (not the jars just the chicken).

What did I do wrong? Was the canner at too high a temp? It was a new one and I noticed the metal was thinner than my old one. I have not used it since then. Help!

Glenda Holcomb
Indiantown, Florida

This startling thing happens on occasion when we immediately remove the lid of the canner when the pressure reaches zero. It’s usually when we have a full canner, often full of a food with lots of broth in it, like chicken. Let your canner sit a few minutes at zero. Not half an hour, but ten minutes or so. Then remove the lid and take your jars out. Jumping the gun on removing the lid will also sometimes cause liquid to blow out of the jars between the lid and jar rim. Sorry to hear you lost all that chicken. That really hurts. — Jackie

Potatoes starting to sprout

We had a bumper crop of potatoes last year. Gave away a bunch. We still have 75-100 pounds left and they have sprouted about foot long shoots and the most potatoes have gone soft, no green spots on them. I know, not the ideal storage area! We stored them in the basement cool dark corner and covered.  Question is what can we do/salvage those potatoes if possible? We tried a meal with some soft ones and no ill affects so far, but have read and hear conflicting info. We were thinking making mashed and freezing and possible canning as options.

Norbert Freitel
Marshall, Michigan

I often can up some of my spring-sprouted potatoes so as not to lose them. But it’s really best to do that before they start to get soft for the best canned potatoes, possible. If you have to, don’t feel horrible composting a lot of those potatoes. Then, if you have a good potato crop this year, why not dehydrate and can up some of them so you won’t lose many come next spring? As you’ve said, you can freeze mashed potatoes, but if you do a whole lot, your freezer space will be cramped. — Jackie

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