Canning 101: Tomato Float, Sauce Separation and Loss of Liquid

122 | 365

Tomato canning season is here and so I’ve been getting a lot of questions from people who are canning their own tomatoes for the first time. They worry because their tomatoes are floating, their crushed tomatoes have separated or their jars have lost significant liquid in the canning process and now they’re not sure if their tomatoes are safe. Let’s take these three topics one by one and put your hearts at ease, shall we?

Tomato Float
Take a look at the jars on the left in the picture above. Those are the whole, peeled tomatoes that I canned last year. As you can see, the tomatoes are floating over a good inch of liquid and tomato sediment at the bottom of the jar. This one is absolutely no big deal.

Even the most seasoned canner is going to have some canned whole tomatoes that float. This is because there are air pockets inside those tomatoes and when you pack something with some internal trapped air in a liquid, it will float.

You can try to avoid float by using regular mouth jars (the shoulders of the jar help keep the fruit in place) and packing the jar as firmly as possible (without totally crushing the tomatoes). But really and truly, it’s no big deal.

Tomato Separation
Often, I will hear from people who are concerned because their crushed tomatoes have separated into a layer of liquid topped by a layer of solids. What happened here is that you heated your tomatoes for more than five minutes, let them cool and then heated them up again.

By doing this, you’ve broken down the pectin inside the tomatoes. In this situation, the pectin was there holding the structure of the cells together and once it goes, there’s nothing to maintain the integrity of the tomato flesh together and so pulp separates from the water.

I never worry about this one either. Just give the jar a good shake before using.

Liquid Loss
Back to the picture up at the top. Take a look at the quart jars on the right. You might notice that several of those jars lost a TON of liquid. I canned that particular batch in my pressure canner and during the cooling process, they siphoned like mad (that’s the official canning term for when liquid escapes).

Siphoning can be prevented by better bubbling of jars and a slower cooling process. However, even when you’re careful, it still happens sometimes. However, as long as your seals are good, jars with even significant liquid loss are still safe to eat.

You may experience some reduction of quality over time and when it happens to lighter colored foods (like peaches), the product that’s not submerged will begin to discolor. Put those jars at the front of the queue of jars to use and don’t worry about it.

Air Bubbles
Sometimes, you’ll preserve tomatoes and once the jars are sealed, you’ll notice that there are a few air pockets or bubbles in the finished product. As long as the lids remain sealed and those bubbles aren’t actively moving around on their own, the jars are fine. Once a jar is sealed, air pockets are only a problem if they seem to bubbling independently of you moving or tapping the jars, as that can be a sign of fermentation. Otherwise, all is well.

What other tomato questions do you guys have? Let’s hear it!

Related Posts:


252 Responses to Canning 101: Tomato Float, Sauce Separation and Loss of Liquid

  1. 101
    Christine S. says:

    Thank you sooo much for this wonderful post! I have canned with a friend before, but today canning by myself I experienced siphoning for the first time. I had no idea what had happened and felt like a total failure, so sad! I thought they were ruined, and I’d have to reprocess them. I am still a little worried, it’s my nature to be a worry wart, but I’m following your advice on making sure they’re SEALED, and I think everything will be fine. Thanks again!

  2. 102
    Rae says:

    Thank you so much for this post. I had separation and slight liquid loss. I wasn’t sure if that was a bad thing or not. This was very reassuring.

  3. 103
    alisan says:

    I can tomatoes every year(water bath) and have never had any trouble. One jar this year became slightly cloudy. It was not immediate. I keep my canned goods in a pantry and notice this jar about 1 or 2 months after processing. Should I throw them out? Thank you for your attention.

  4. 104

    […] expert: Marisa McClellan who writes Food in Jars. She has great info on her blog and I found this post that explained that I probably did something wrong – like got it hot and cooled a bit -but […]

  5. 105
    Rebecca C says:

    I pressure cooked the first batch of tomatoes and I went against directions and pulled the weight off early to release pressure faster after processing time because I had so many tomatoes to run through and I didn’t want to wait. I got the tomato float and loss of liquid, so that’s my fault. The rest I just waterbathed (I added extra acid to ensure safety) and they turned out beautifully like usual. I was pretty sure that first batch would be ok, but now I am very confident, so thanks for addressing it in your post! Sometimes it’s hard to find specific, direct answers about canning. I prefer waterbath to pressure canning just because it takes so long for the pressure canner to get to pressure and to release pressure at the end, it takes longer than waterbath. I wonder why that is? Maybe my sea level? Not sure.

    • 105.1
      Marisa says:

      Pressure canners just take a long time to release their pressure. Mine can take up to an hour. This is why I don’t really recommend pressure canning for tomatoes that, as long as they’re acidified properly, can easily be done in a water bath canner.

  6. 106
    Rebecca says:

    Hi: I’m am canning for the first time and I don’t have a pot of water big enough to submerge my cans when heating them. Is that going to hurt the process?

  7. 107
    Tara says:

    Hello, I canned a few jars of tomatoes the other day but 4 of my 6 jars didn’t seal after processing. I didn’t have any time to process them again so I put them in the fridge. I had another set of unprocessed canned tomatoes too that I did not immediately process. I covered them with the lids, put them in the fridge. Now it’s been 3 days since I initially canned the tomatoes. Can I still process them now? The ones that I processed that didn’t seal have now seemed to ferment a little bit as when I opened one of the jars air and juice came hissing out. Did I waste all these tomatoes??
    Thank you for your help!!

  8. 108
    Vicky Reidelberger says:

    HELP! There must be a easier way to make saulsa. I blanced the tomatoes, peeled them then took out the seeds and I had a mess. I used a lot of tomatoes to get just 3 pints of saulsa.

    • 108.1
      Barb says:

      Hi Vicky…Salsa is very labor intensive for sure! But it is so worth it come winter. My family really loves it! What I have found out is that I do the hard stuff first. That (for me) is chopping all the “hard” ingredients. I usually do those in the morning, then stick it all in a freezer bag and put them in the fridge. If I get busy with something else, I don’t have to worry about them getting too soggy. They are going to cook down anyway. I have even did that and then finished the next day. I have also had great luck with putting the tomatoes in a blender for a spin or two, then dumping that into my pot. Do that for about half of the tomatoes. This will cut the time a little. The trade off is that your salsa will not be really “chunky”. Add the remaining “chopped” tomatoes to the pot along with the rest of the ingredients and process it like you normally would. Canned salsa is normally not like the “fresh” chunky salsa that all of us love in the summer. I use the Ball blue book recipe and play around with the peppers. I haven’t had one complaint yet and many family and friends ask for it a lot. I will also admit, because it is so labor intensive to make, I rarely “give” jars away…:-) Good luck and try it again!

      • Leah says:

        Will blending the whole salsa make a difference? I am going for super traditional Mexican salsa, which, in my case is usually made with boiled tomatoes and chiles, which are pureed with the rest of the ingredients. In other words i want a thin salsa. Not chunks. If i follow the recommended recipes can i puree all the ingredients before simmering on the stove?

    • 108.2
      Naomi says:

      I am in a similar boat… My pressure cooker wouldn’t come up to pressure so I had to abort the canning process. By this time it was almost midnight and I didn’t have time to reprocess immediately. Everything I’ve read says to reprocess within 24 hours, but do I need to refrigerate the cans? Do they then need to come up to room temp before starting again? I was canning raw pack tomatoes no added juice or water…

  9. 109

    […] your tomatoes and they cool down considerably, you risk ending up with sauce that separates (more on separation, fruit float, and liquid loss here). It’s not the end of the world if it separates (just give it a good shake to reintegrate), […]

  10. 110
    Janet says:

    Canned a batch of tomatoes and didn’t hear a pop. Don’t know if they sealed. Also when I put them up in my pantry I noticed the lids weren’t screwed on tightly. Do you think this batch is lost?

    • 110.1
      Marisa says:

      Just because you don’t hear a pop doesn’t mean that your jars didn’t seal. Press the lids. If they’re firm and do not wiggle, they are sealed. The rings don’t need to be tight for the jars to be sealed.

  11. 111
    Heidi says:

    I just pressure canned a batch of tomato pasta sauce. I let the jars cool in the canner for quite a while after the pressure was released but when I opened the lid, there was tomato pulp on the sides of the canner and in the water. Only one of the jars sealed. The rest now have lots of airspace and look like paste instead of sauce. What did I do wrong? I processed @ 11 lbs pressure for 25 min as the directions on my canner told me.

    • 111.1
      Marisa says:

      It could be that you didn’t wipe the rims sufficiently. Or that you didn’t let the pot rest long enough (I tend to let mine sit overnight before opening). Or that the lids were old. Or that you didn’t remove the bubbles from inside the jars well enough. You also have to tighten the rings just a little bit more when you pressure can than you do when you can in a boiling water bath canner.

  12. 112
    Jenny says:

    I water-bath canned tomato sauce yesterday, and when finished, one of the jars had lots of bubbles at the top. The lid sealed, but I’m wondering where all the bubbles are coming from? When I did tomato sauce last week, none of the jars had any bubbles. I’d guess that I didn’t get all the air pockets out?

  13. 113
    PeterW says:

    Thank you so much! This was my very first time canning, and I had what you described as tomato separation. I was completely depressed, since these were garden tomatoes and I thought I’d completely botched it.

    I think my problem is that I had already lightly pureed them, and then I cooked them for 5 minutes and THEN had the water bath. Sounds like I shouldn’t have pureed them, but kept in chunks. I might have also had too high a boil.

    I’m simmering down now…thanks again…

  14. 114
    Barbara says:

    How long can you store (refrigerate) jars of tomatoes before you boil/preserve them?

    • 114.1
      Marisa says:

      You can’t do that at all. You need to fill and process your jars on the same day.

      • Julie says:

        I’m wondering about this too. Why do you have to fill and process on the same day? Once successfully canned, doesn’t food stay at the same level of “freshness” as it did when it went into the can?

        • Marisa says:

          The reason you fill and process the same day has to do with the quality of the product. You are going to have the best consistency and texture for your tomatoes if you keep them hot once you get them hot. If you filled the jars with hot tomatoes, cooled them down and then reheated them again, your texture is going to be heavily compromised. You also risk more jar breakage and seal failure by doing it that way.

  15. 115
    mary says:

    two weeks ago I canned some tomatoes and tomato soup in a hot water bath. Today while canning green verde sauce the recipe said to hot water bath process at the same time I canned tomato sauce the tomato wanted pressure cooked. So I called the extension office asked if I could pressure cook the verde sauce. While on the phone I told her I had canned tomatoes hot water and why this recipe asked for a pressure cooker. She said I would have to reprocess the tomatoes and soup by opening all the jars and reheating to a hard boil for 5 minutes and then pressure cook. Everything I find online about reprocessing says it has to be done within 24 hours. Are my jars of tomatoes and soup going to be ok not that I reprocessed them. I am almost scared to eat any of it even though I followed the extension office directions to reprocess.

    • 115.1
      Marisa says:

      Mary, I’d just follow the instructions from the extension office. She wouldn’t have told you anything unsafe.

      • Virginia says:

        I wouldn’t be so sure about the extension office being right. I found out that the girl answering my question at the local extension office had never canned and had no idea how to go about it.. She looked everything up in a book she had. You know, I can do that myself.

  16. 116
    KELLY says:

    I canned 30 quarts of vegetable soup 5 days ago and for the past 2 days, I’ve had jars hissing and leaking…15 jars to be exact. Half of my batch is gone. What happened? I’ve never had this happen before. What should I do with the other 15 jars? The broth looks clear, there’s still a nice head-space on the jar. I’m crying. :-(

    • 116.1
      Marisa says:

      The soup is spoiling. It is not safe to can low acid foods like vegetable soup in a boiling water bath canner.

  17. 117
    KELLY says:

    I should add that I did this in a water bath…as I always have. The jars I have thrown away get cloudy. The ones that are still on the shelf tonight are clear. :-( Still crying…

  18. 118
    Susan says:

    Thank you! Just canned Roma tomatoes for the first time and carefully followed the directions. Thought I had to throw them out because all the tomatoes were floating. Now they are safe for a winter soup!

  19. 119
    Jean says:

    Last year I made tomato sauce for the first time in a long time. Every time we used it, it was kind of unappealing because it separated into solids and liquids. You couldn’t use it on pizza dough because it was all gooey. It didn’t taste very good on spaghetti and left a puddle on your plate. Can you tell me what I did wrong?

    • 119.1
      Marisa says:

      Tomato sauce often does that if you cook the sauce, then cool it off, and then reheat it to can it. Once you start heating tomatoes, you need to keep them hot right until they go into the canner.

      • Christina Roth says:

        Actually, that’s how I prefer to make my tomato sauce. I make it a day ahead, then let it cool off, then I store it in the fridge. The next day, which is the day I can, I remove the pot of sauce from the fridge and siphon off the clear juice that sitting on top of the tomato “meat” mixture on the bottom. I actually can the clear tomato “juice” separately, which can be used as broth for vegetable based soups. Next, I take the “meat” and cook it down to the consistency I want, and can that hot. Then, I have no separation issues because I’ve already separated it!

  20. 120
    Christina Roth says:

    I have a question that may or may not have been discussed already. There’s over 100 comments…so forgive me for not going through all of them. I processed my first batch of tomatoes this year and followed all the rules: packed tightly, 1/2″ headspace, 1/4 tsp citric acid for pints, 1/2 tsp salt, removed bubbles with a chopstick, wiped rims, processed 85 mins. My tomatoes do float, but I read plenty on this beforehand, so that didn’t concern me.

    Is there a good explanation for what appears to be tomato residue in my water bath water? I could smell tomatoes as they were processing and feared the worst: a broken jar. That’s not the case. While all the jars have indeed sealed, I’m thinking I misjudged the headspace. That’s the only reason I could think of…too full and while heated in the canner, the product boiled up underneath the seal and leaked into the water.

    So…how safe is my product? I don’t really want to reprocess and am content with freezing/refrigerating if necessary, but are they at all shelf stable? Secondly, I have…oh…about another 30 lbs. of tomatoes to process. Suggestions on getting the headspace issue solved so this doesn’t happen for all of them?

    Any advice is most appreciated. Your blog is one of my new favorites and I’m slowly making my way through all your recipes, both here and in your published books.


    • 120.1
      Marisa says:

      As long as the jars are sealed, they are safe. There is always a little bit of liquid loss during tomato canning and so it’s normal for you to have a little bit of tomato product seeping into the jars. It’s not that you overfilled the jars. It’s just that when you process the jars for 85 minutes, a goodly amount of pressure builds up in the jars. There’s some oxygen trapped down within the tomatoes and so that oxygen pushes up to the surface, escapes from the jars, and pushes some liquid with it. No need to worry.

      • Christina Roth says:

        Thanks, Marisa, for the feedback. I went ahead and processed my 2nd batch before your reply, and I had no issues with that one.

        You’re definitely right about liquid loss. It’s crazy how much, considering they appear full when you’re packing them.

        Lastly, keep up the good work! Your blog and books are so inspiring and certainly unique. The last generation of canners in my family died before I was even a thought, and even my homely grandmother doesn’t can. My family thinks I’m crazy at 25 and canning, but hey, they’re reaping the benefits too! :)

  21. 121
    Holly says:

    Oh! I’m so glad to have found your post on tomato canning issues! I’ve canned pickles and jam for years, but this was my first go round with tomatoes and I have been feeling really uneasy about my results. I blanched, cored, peeled, added acid and stuffed my hot jars(pints) with tomatoes (1/2 inch headspace), poked them for air pockets and waterbathed them for 85 minutes. I had a TON of siphoning happen with all 8 of my jars, even after I pulled them out of the hot water and separation of tomatoes from the liquid in the jar. The jars sealed, so from what I’ve read they’re safe to keep, but I’m trying to figure out how to keep it from happening again. I’ve gathered that it has to do with how quickly they cool, so does that mean I should let them sit in the hot water for a time after they’ve processed? Also, I didn’t put my tomatoes in an ice bath after I blanched them, is that part of the reason they separated after the water bath? Thank you so much for your help! I’m really trying to get the hang of this!

  22. 122
    Dragon says:


    I just wanted to say “thank you” for your wonderful blog and your “Food in Jars” book.

    I started making jams a few years ago, to use up the berries I’d picked in the summer and frozen and also *ahem* to make cheap Christmas gifts. They were a huge hit.

    My mother, who gives me a cookbook annually as my Christmas gift from Santa, gave me your book a couple years ago, and I just branched right out into pickles and things. I also started doing a BWB, which I’d never done before (the one canned product that we have always made in my family was never BWBed, so I never did it. Thank goodness none of my jam ever went bad).

    In 2012, I found that I can no longer have commercially-canned tomato products, due to BPA issues, and I worried that all my beloved tomato-based recipes would be gone from my life. I waited until tomato season and canned a batch of crushed tomatoes, just as a test, from your recipe.

    They were fantastic! I promptly made up another 20ish jars of varying sizes, amusing the heck out of the vendor at my farmer’s market with my weekly purchases.

    This year, I’m busy making tomato sauce as well as crushed toms. I’m glad to read, in this post, that the separated sauce is no big deal. Pretty much all of my sauce has separated, so far. I’ll do my best to keep it heated between the pot and the BWB next time.

    There are also plenty of other delightful things in my pantry that owe their existence or inspiration to your recipes.

    So, again, thank you very much! And my family and coworkers thank you, too. 😀


  23. 123
    mickey says:

    why do red ripe tomatoes sink and green unripe tomatoes float in cold water

    • 123.1
      Marisa says:

      No clue. So sorry.

    • 123.2
      Garden Geek says:

      Because ripe tomatoes contain more water, so they are denser than unripe green tomatoes. If you want an easy way to check this, pick up a ripe and an unripe tomato of the same size; the ripe one will weigh more.

  24. 124
    Marty says:

    Hi All,

    Need some help! I waterbathed all my tomato sauce for sealing, they were sealed but during the process I realized some of the water enter my jars. Is this a problem, are my jars (sauce) contaminated or can I still store them.


    • 124.1
      Marisa says:

      It’s quite unusual to have water get into your jars. Are you sure it’s not just a little condensation? Are they filled to the top with water? If they are filled to the very top, you should probably open the jars, remove the water, heat the sauce, and refill and process the jars.

      • Marty says:

        Thanks for your prompt response

        I will double check to see if they are filled to the top, is it possible that I have separation of the sauce and water. If this is the case do I still have to reprocess

        • Marty says:

          Hi There, I looked at my jars and on the bottom level (approximately 1/2 inch) is water, is this separation from the sauce due to water-bathing. Thanks

  25. 125
    Diana says:


    I didn’t completely cover the jars with water while processing. My water level was at the neck of the bottle instead of an inch over. I still processed them the accurate time and they sealed fine, what should I look for if they are spoiled???

  26. 126
    Marty says:


    I water bathed my jars and noticed after the cool down period that the bottom portion, approximately 1/2 is water. It seems to have separated with the sauce, Should I do something.

    I Also see little air bubbles in the sauce, is this ok


    • 126.1
      Marisa says:

      Like this post says, separation is totally normal. The air bubbles are not a concern unless they are moving actively on their own, without any agitation of the jar from you.

    • 126.2
      katherine says:

      New canner! Tried Mrs. Wages salsa, and when done had liquid on bottom, but a bunch of air bubbles, the lids seem sealed (no ping or anything), but still wondering if we should just refrigerate and eat in the next couple of weeks or so instead of putting on shelves for later this winter.

      • Marisa says:

        The picture didn’t come through, but as long as you followed the recipe, processed the jars as instructed, and the lids sealed, the jars are shelf stable.

  27. 127
    Deb says:

    New canner here! I canned 4 quarts of tomatoes yesterday. When they were in the water bath, the temperature dropped! Once I discovered this, I got the heat back up….and processed for at LEAST 85 minutes. I had what appeared to be water at the bottom of the jars! Well once the jars appeared to be sealed, I gave them all a good shake. They are downstairs…..I haven’t looked at them since last night. If the jars ARE SEALED TIGHTLY, ARE THEY SAFE TO EAT. I bought a huge box of tomatoes to can, and if I can’t be sure they are okay, I’d rather go on and make sauce now and freeze it! Thanks so much for your advice! A worry wart here!

    • 127.1
      Marisa says:

      If you processed the jars for the required amount of time and the jars are well-sealed, they are safe to eat.

  28. 128

    […] I highly recommend the Food in Jars cookbook by Marisa McLellan. You may also want to check out this post on tomato canning […]

  29. 129
    Maria says:


    I am new to canning and tried whole peeled tomatoes for the first time yesterday – but I think I made a really bad mistake – I accidentally used the canning magnet instead of the spatula to get out the air bubbles ( I know….duh!) It seemed like the bubbles were out, I processed the jars for the right amount of time, and the seals are OK. I did notice some bubbles this morning though…. My concern is that every post I am reading on this topic now is saying to use a non metallic spatula. Are the tomatoes safe to eat? Or should I throw them all out? So upset right now!

    • 129.1
      Marisa says:

      The canning magnet will work just fine for removing bubbles, so your mistake isn’t bad at all. The brief contact with the magnet should not have imparted a metallic flavor into the tomatoes. Keep the tomatoes, they should be fine.

      • Maria says:

        Thanks so much! I was really hoping you would say that – Tossing 16 jars of tomatoes would be so frustrating!

  30. 130
    Amanda Moore says:

    Thanks for this post. I just canned my first batch of crushed tomatoes and I cooked them longer than five minutes. The jars took longer to sterilize than I had thought. I know better for next time and can relax that my tomatoes separated. There are also air bubbles but they are not moving. Thanks again.

  31. 131

    […] not entirely sure why this step is included, but I suspect it helps with the dreaded “fruit float” all canners are sworn to […]

  32. 132
    Tiffany says:

    Hey! I made salsa and canned them. It seemed that they sealed fine, but when I opened the jar the salsa expanded, spilling out of the jar. When I tasted the salsa it left my tongue tingling, but did not smell bad. I had several quart jars that did this, and several smaller jars that were fine. Any idea why this happened?

    • 132.1
      Marisa says:

      Tiffany, it sounds like the salsa fermented in the jars. Did you increase the processing time for the quart jars? Any time you can a product that is designed for canning in pints, you need to up the processing time by five minutes if you use quarts instead.

  33. 133
    Bobbi says:

    I tried pressuring canning tomaotes for the first time. When i took them out of the canner there was about 2-3″ of clear liquid on the bottom and the tomatoes were on top.Could having them in the hot water for too long to blanche caused this problem? I also put 2tbl. of lemon juice and 1 tsp. of salt in the bottom of the jar. I saw the picture you included with the post but my cans have a significant amount of clear liquid on the bottom. Any help is appreciated!

  34. 134
    Bee says:


    Thank you so much for your detailed responses to these questions! I’m sorry to bug you with another one. I just canned a bunch of crushed tomatoes today and many of the jars did not seal. I’ve done crushed tomatoes twice before and they’ve always worked out in the past :(
    It was a full day of canning and I’m leaving them as-is overnight. Is it possible to re-process them tomorrow (or to empty the jars, re-heat the tomatoes, re-pack, re-process?) I don’t want to put all this work to waste!

    Thanks in advance!

    • 134.1
      Marisa says:

      Here’s what you can do. Remove the lids that didn’t seal. Wipe the rims and apply new lids. Apply rings. Place jars in a canning pot filled with room temperature water. Put it on the stove and slowly bring it back up to a boil. Once it boils, start the timer and process as you regularly do. The tomatoes will be a bit softer and you may see some significant water separation, but they will be safe.

  35. 135
    Roger Blain says:

    I just retired so I am trying to learn to economize by canning garden produce i would have previously wasted. I tried canning tomatoes, cut in quarters, in 28 ounce jars in a water canner. NEVER have canned before. I was shocked to see 1 1/2 inches of what looked like water on the bottom of the canned jars making me think I screwed up and should toss them. The tomatoes are floating above the liquid but the lids are sealed fine. Did I not tighten the rings enough when canning and the water over the jars got into the canned tomatoes? Are they safe to eat?
    Thank you.
    “Canning Cluts”

    • 135.1
      Marisa says:

      The water in the bottom of your jars came from the tomatoes, not from the canning pot. You tightened your jars just fine. This happens and they are safe to eat.

  36. 136
    Nancy says:

    Many thanks, my first batch of tomato canning went fine, but the second batch had one can that sealed well, but had air bubbles – so I know that that one is ok.

    This was a very useful series of explanations!

  37. 137
    Lisa says:

    Hello! Thank you for making this very helpful website! I wondered if you could give me any advice- I have spent the afternoon/evening making tomato ketchup. It’s taken a lot longer than I anticipated (as usual), it is still thickening and reducing and I don’t think I’m going to have time to can it tonight. Is it ok to turn it off, cover and finish the thickening and processing tomorrow evening when I get home from work? Thank you, any help much appreciated!

  38. 138
    Morgan says:

    Help! This is driving me crazy! Lately we’ve been making home made tomato sauce out of our own canned tomatoes it looks fine in the jar and in the pot but when put over the pasta it separates and it’s just awful. I’ve gotten used to the taste but the seperation is just god awful.

  39. 139
    Kate P says:

    Hey, I’ve just sealed a bunch of whole peeled tomatos via your instructions with much success via my water bath, although one of the jars has air actively bubbling inside it, almost looks like it’s boiling inside the jar, it’s been an hour since I’ve taken it out of the water bath. What’s going on?

    P.s – love all your helpful information!

    • 139.1
      Marisa says:

      Give it a little more time because it sounds like those are cooling and settling bubbles. You really only need to be concerned about bubbles that move on their own after days or weeks, because they can be signs of fermentation. There’s no way that your tomatoes are fermenting an hour out of the canning pot.

  40. 140
    Helki Lauren says:

    Hi, Hoping you can help. I canned 30 lbs of diced tomatoes last year, all jars sealed well. Our family enjoyed them for 1/2 the winter then one day I went to use a jar and the lid wasn’t sealed. Out of the eight or so jars left some where not sealed and all of them had a weird sweet smell. I packed the diced tomatoes cold into hot jars with lemon and salt, and processed them as per the ball recipe book in a water bath canner. I stored them in my pantry that is the same temperature as my home and it is not always dark. I would like to can tomatoes again but want to be sure where I made my mistakes so that my work is not wasted. Any help you can provide would be much appreciated. I have both your books and really enjoy them. Thank you for bringing this important skill into the modern age!


    • 140.1
      Marisa says:

      It sounds like they spoiled and chances are, you didn’t process them long enough. Are you working with a modern Ball book or an older edition? The recipes here are the most up to date information:

      • Helki Lauren says:

        I checked out the link you sent and they recommended a much longer processing time for raw pack than I did. Maybe I will be brave and try again! Thanks for the link.

  41. 141
    Kyna says:

    I canned a batch of stewed tomatoes on Friday afternoon, I thought all the jars had popped, but when I came back home from a trip on Sunday afternoon, I realized one jar hadn’t sealed! The jars were kept in a cool, dry, dark place while I was gone, can I put this unsealed jar in the fridge and use it later or should I just toss it?

  42. 142
    DanaM says:

    I think I’ve done the dumbest thing ever. I have several ill family members and am always tired. My first time canning tomatoes, I fell asleep while my jars were boiling. Not 30 mins, but 3 hrs and half of the jars were exposed and the tomatos rose to the top in the jars with an inch or two of liquid in the bottom. I’m heartbroken. Are they ruined?

    • 142.1
      Marisa says:

      Did they seal? They are probably fine.

      • DanaM says:

        They did seal just fine. I am so exhausted as a caretaker and was making them for family. Like so many women here, canning tomatos for the first time and having a mishap is heartbreaking and can bring you to tears. Thank you for your rescue forum. I had no one to call and then found your site. I so much appreciate your rapid response. I learned a lot from all the posts. Thank you sooo much.

  43. 143
    Mary Shutack says:

    I canned a batch of tomatoes; however, during the process, my stove broke down. The jars were only processed about 20 minutes but the jars have a good seal. Are they safe to use? Can I put them back and process for the remainder of the time with a sealed lid?

  44. 144
    chris says:

    HI – I canned tomatoes and read the instructions incorrectly and only had in boiling water for 25 minutes. The Jars sealed but I am worried I didn’t leave in the water long enough.
    What do you think I should do?

    • 144.1
      Marisa says:

      You have to use your own judgment here. Because you didn’t process your jars long enough, there is an increased chance in spoilage down the line. The chances of that happening are relatively slim, but present.


  1. Canning Crushed Tomatoes (Part II) | ma vie en food - August 26, 2011

    […] in my first tomato canning post, my tomatoes separated.  Marisa at Food in Jars recently wrote a great post about tomato separation, and it is well worth reading. This time, I noticed that my tomatoes separated, but it’s not […]

  2. Links for August 23rd, 2011 through August 30th, 2011 | TechnoEarthMama - August 31, 2011

    […] Canning 101: Tomato Float, Sauce Separation and Loss of Liquid | Food in Jars – Hint: Your tomatoes are probably just fine. […]

  3. Market Notes: On Canning Tomatoes - September 1, 2011

    […] Canning 101: Tomato Float, Sauce Separation and Loss of Liquid, Food in Jars • Because it happens. […]

  4. My Canning Cabinets - September 1, 2011

    […] Stewed Tomatoes Tomato Float, Sauce Seperation and Loss of Liquid […]

  5. Tomato Canning « Scrumptious and Sumptuous - September 5, 2011

    […] Peeled Tomatoes at Food in Jars (also check out her Canning 101 post, which has several other Canning 101 topics linked at the end of the […]

  6. When life gives you lemons, pop the bubbly and admire all the lovely tomatoes you canned « breezybum - September 17, 2011

    […] tomatoes, like tomato float, that are normal. Marisa at the site, Food in Jars, wrote a great Canning 101 post on these common issues, last month. A Salami-Portabella pizza. You can't see, but under […]

  7. Italian Prune Plum Jam | Three Clever Sisters - September 26, 2011

    […] compromised (which is a risk you run when it does bubble over) it’s fine.  (See what Marisa and the Minnesota extension site have to say).  Such are the perils of late-night […]

  8. Market Notes: On Canning Tomatoes « Seacoast Locavore - October 24, 2011

    […] Canning 101: Tomato Float, Sauce Separation and Loss of Liquid, Food in Jars • Because it happens. Share this:Like this:LikeBe the first to like this post. […]

  9. Adventures in Canning Tomatoes 1.0 « Cooking Ripe! - September 6, 2012

    […] expert: Marisa McClellan who writes Food in Jars. She has great info on her blog and I found this post that explained that I probably did something wrong – like got it hot and cooled a bit -but […]

  10. What the heck happened here?! « Trial by Error: Gardening in Suburbia - September 27, 2012

    […] something has clearly gone wrong! Yikes. I’m not really sure what happened, but thanks to this blog post – conveniently by the author of the book whose recipe I just followed, it sounds like the […]

  11. How to Can Cherry Tomatoes – Easy Peasy! - Positively Mommy » Positively Mommy - October 2, 2012

    […] cooking them first and if it was safe that there is air in the jar after they cook down. Check here if you want to read about […]

  12. Adventures in Canning Tomatoes 1.0 | Cooking Ripe! - January 18, 2013

    […] expert: Marisa McClellan who writes Food in Jars. She has great info on her blog and I found this post that explained that I probably did something wrong – like got it hot and cooled a bit -but […]

  13. Giveaway: Roma by Weston Electric Tomato Strainer and Sauce Maker | Food in Jars - September 4, 2013

    […] your tomatoes and they cool down considerably, you risk ending up with sauce that separates (more on separation, fruit float, and liquid loss here). It’s not the end of the world if it separates (just give it a good shake to reintegrate), […]

  14. canned heirloom tomatoes and tomato water cocktails | brooklyn supper - August 28, 2014

    […] I highly recommend the Food in Jars cookbook by Marisa McLellan. You may also want to check out this post on tomato canning […]

  15. Canning Tomatoes and a Tomato Water Bloody Mary | Hooch And Home - September 8, 2014

    […] not entirely sure why this step is included, but I suspect it helps with the dreaded “fruit float” all canners are sworn to […]

Leave a Reply