Spoiled sweet potatoes

What would cause sweet potatoes to spoil after about 2 weeks? The lids were sealed after pressure canning. But still spoiled.

Stan French
Bandy, Virginia

Because I didn’t see how you canned them, I can only guess. This happened to me, ONCE. I had been canning a truckload of sweet corn all day and night for three days. When I had the very last batch in, I was exhausted and turned the heat off when the canner was finished processing. I went to bed. The next morning I took the lid off my pressure canner. All quarts had sealed. I put them on my pantry shelves. Two weeks later there was a horrible smell in my pantry. All of the jars had come unsealed and the corn spoiled. When your canner is finished timing, always let the pressure return to zero, wait a couple minutes then take off the weight or flip up the petcock and take off the lid. Immediately take the jars out of the canner and place them on a folded, dry towel on your counter. The jars need this hot-cool situation to seal firmly and completely. Leaving them in a hot canner to cool off so slowly often results in seemingly sealed lids that later come unsealed in storage. I hope this was the case with you and that your next batch will be perfect. — Jackie

Canning baked beans

I canned up your recipe for Boston Baked Beans from your “Growing and Canning Your Own Food” book. When They were finished and cooled, the jars looked like the food was over dry. But, they sealed properly. Is it possible to still use these beans? How would I fix them when I opened the jars to cook heat them for dinner?

Latricia Self
Dallas, Texas

I’d say your beans are fine. Perhaps there was a fluctuation in your pressure during canning that resulted in liquid being blown out between the lid and jar. When you heat them, just add a little water to get the right consistency. As always, when opening a jar of canned food, look at it, sniff it, then heat it if it seems fine. — Jackie

Food strainer

Help! I just used my Victorio Food Strainer for the first time. I went to wash it up but can’t get the red plastic screw out of the metal screen. Any suggestions on removing it?

Helper, Utah

Try soaking it in very hot, soapy water. Then plunge it into ice cold water. Usually that’ll do the trick. If not, try re-assembling it and pouring cooking oil into the chamber (with a pan under it). Turn the handle a few times, then let it sit. The screw should slide out fairly easy when you take it apart. If that doesn’t work, I’d suggest calling the company. This is NOT a common occurrence. — Jackie


  1. It was soaking in hot water while I wrote that letter to Jackie. By the time, I finished and got back to the sink, the screw slid right out!

  2. To the Food strainer:
    If all else fails try tightening the screw a bit to break it loose, then loosen it. That almost always worked when trying to remove seized screws in aircraft panels.

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