Canning 101: Air Bubbles in Finished Products

air bubbly applesauce

This time of year, people are canning apple and pear sauce. Makes sense, being that it’s fall and all. It’s a particularly satisfying product to preserve because so many families have these sauces in their regular mealtime rotation, so they give you the feeling that you’re truly replacing the grocery store with your own work. It’s a pretty nice sensation.

The only issue with these fruit sauces is that they are far more viscous than the jams of summer. As you pour them into the jars, no matter how diligent you are at removing the air bubbles, it’s inevitable that a few will slip by. This can sometimes lead to a bit of product loss as the jars cool and seal (though I’ve heard that if you keep the applesauce hot the entire time, from cooking to food milling to jarring up, it won’t do it). It can also result in the presence of tiny little air bubbles distributed throughout your finished product.

If you look closely at the picture above, you’ll see that the applesauce I canned recently has a scattering of tiny bubbles. These remaining bubbles are no big deal. The jar was processed for the proper amount of time and has a firm seal. It is just fine.

The only time you need to be concerned about the presence of tiny bubbles in your product is when they are active, start moving or fizzy up to the top of the jar when you open it. If that occurs, your product may be fermenting or contaminated. But if the bubbles are inactive, they are totally benign.

 

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65 Responses to Canning 101: Air Bubbles in Finished Products

  1. 1
    Terri says:

    In the past I have had lots of trouble with apples and applesauce siphoning. Today I did applesauce and had no problems at all. Your post tells me why. My apples were hot the entire time, they went right from boiling to food mill and into a pan of hot sauce. In the past I am pretty sure I let the applesauce cool a bit. Never will I do that again.

  2. 2
    Mario says:

    Thanks for this post. I was one of those people freaking out about the bubbles.

  3. 3

    I consciously know that these kinds of bubbles are fine, they always freak me out a bit. Thanks for reassuring me!

  4. 4
    Nora Martinez DeBenedetto says:

    Thank you so much for posting this! I am always freaking out about canning, as it seems the slightest stray from the rules will murder my guests.

  5. 5
    Jody Senna says:

    Thank you so much for sharing – I made my apple butter on Tuesday and canned it on Wednesday. I had read on someone’s apple butter recipe that I should re-heat the apple butter to a light boil to kill any bacteria, so I did. Now I understand that having the apple butter hot was also helpful in other ways.

    Thank you for clearing up my concern about the tiny air bubbles – I really appreciate it!

  6. 6
    Andrea says:

    Good to know, I was wondering!

  7. 7

    I wonder about a different type of bubbles I’ve had. The jar (quart-sized) was sealed well with minimal siphoning, and I had those little bubbles like in your picture, but then also at the bottom of the jar, the applesauce was sort of like a slurry – that’s the best word I can come up with – where the bubbles weren’t moving, but if I tilted the jar, the part at the bottom moved much easier than the sauce above it.

    When I opened those jars, months later, they smelled and tasted fine, so we ate them, so they must have been okay, but it was very odd.

    • 7.1

      Like it separates? Liquidy on the bottom, applesauce-y on the top? Mine does that, too, almost always when I add a secondary fruit like strawberries or cranberries (or both!). I give the jar a good shake before opening and it blends back in.

      BTW, love this site. Can’t believe I just found it a few weeks ago! I really enjoy reading about others’ experience with food preservation, as it is a passion of mine also.

    • 7.2
      Carrie says:

      I made apple butter today using the recipe out of the Ball Blue book page30. I have the same thing happen. No bubbles on the bottom for about 1/2 an inch them bubbles all the way to the top. I know that the butter cooled to much while putting into the jars, it was not hot.
      I called Ball and spoke with a lady there and since I was 2 hours past when i canned, she said not to redo it but to put it into the icebox and eat in 3 weeks. I don’t think that we can or should eat 11 jars of apple butter in that amount of time. She also said that if the apples were “dry” when I started it could cause the bubbles and they were I cut them and put into the icebox over night. I said well them that’s the problem and it was safe to eat but she said no. I think because if we get sick then they are not the reason why. So what does anyone else think? I hope this helps others. I am keeping it, I think its going to be fine. I am so glad I found this site. Thank you.

  8. 8
    Judith Q Stewart says:

    Oh, thanks for this !

  9. 9
    Mavis says:

    Oh my, I would of never thought to make pear sauce. Applesauce yes, but pear sauce would have never crossed my mind. Thank you! :)

  10. 10

    Thanks for sharing this! I’ve been canning a few years, but I still feel new to it. It’s good to get this kind of reassurance about what I’m doing.

  11. 11
    Julia says:

    Thanks for this, I just did quarts and quarts of applesauce and while I believe we are all a bit too concerned about food safety & perfection it is nice to know they are fine.

  12. 12
    Kim says:

    Since I’m new to canning, this is such a worry for me. I made applesauce two weeks ago and I did have bubbles throughout. It seems like everything that I make that isn’t a jam or jelly siphons – sometimes really bad. I work on getting the bubbles out before and I measure headspace carefully, but it still happens. Frustrating! I’m hoping I’ll get better as time goes by, my applesauce is yummy!

  13. 13
    janelle says:

    Even in tomato sauce? Then why all the rage to get out bubbles with a stick before processing? Say: I get out the bubbles, process it correctly but my tomatoes have small bubbles. No prob???

    • 13.1
      marisa says:

      Air bubbles are an issue during processing, as they can lead to that dreaded siphoning during and after processing. This post addresses just those tiny bubbles that remain after you’ve done all you could do to remove the air bubbles before processing. It is still important to do your best to remove pre-processing bubbles. But it does also go for tomatoes. If you did your best to remove the air bubbles before processing, but a few still remain after the jars are cooled and sealed, don’t worry about them.

  14. 14
    Stephanie says:

    I love when you do these basic answers to canning questions things. Now I have a dumb question: my husband canned a bunch of tomatoes a couple of months ago (and thanks for the info about it being ok if it separates!), and stored the jars in our basement. Which then flooded. It’s dry now, but in the interim the jars have molded around the lids. Toss, or ok to clean off and use? He says toss but I don’t want to waste them if they are safe to eat. Thank you for your help – you are a godsend to novice canners (and all canners!).

    • 14.1
      marisa says:

      As long as the seals are still strong, the lids aren’t bulging and there’s no sign of mold on the inside of the jars, you can wash them with a diluted bleach solution and put them back on the shelves for use. If you go that route, keep a close eye on the jars to ensure that they don’t develop signs of spoilage. If the lids bulge, the seals break or the contents of the jars begin to look suspect, do not use them.

  15. 15
    Sandi Garcia says:

    Thank you so much — I’ve been wondering about those bubbles — my peaches seem to get them, but the seal is good. I actually did a batch this last weekend and NO siphoning. Yay! Haven’t had any problems with my applesauce. Never thought of pear sauce, but that might be worth a try. Thanks again.

  16. 16
    Kirsten says:

    Perfect timing of this post. I was out rearranging my “pantry” of preserves in our garage when I noticed my salsa stash having bubbles/air pockets in it. It freaked me out but after reading this post, I am relieved that it’s normal and I have to throw anything out. Thanks Marisa!

  17. 17
    Shaina says:

    I was wondering if I was going to get someone sick with that salsa I gifted to my parents… ;)

    Fantastic post, Marisa.

  18. 18
    Sara says:

    Fantastic! I made apple butter Monday night (yay Linda Ziedrich!) and in fact noticed some bubbles, though (shockingly for me) didn’t worry about it. It’s funny you brought it up re apples too, because this is the first time in my short canning career that I’ve noticed it!

  19. 19

    I had this conversation with a new canner just the other day, so very topical post. They too were worried about the post-processing bubbles, but I assured them it wasn’t a big problem.

    The siphoning issue is why I like making sauces and butters in my slow cooker so much – everything put into the jars is hot from the cooker, and then goes right into the canner for processing. I’ve not had any siphoning problems with that method.

    -the redhead-

  20. 20
    Emily says:

    This is the answer I needed to put my nerves to rest over the many jars of applesauce I canned this fall. I really enjoy your blog and have had a lot of fun trying your recipes. Thanks for making home canning so accessible to beginners!

  21. 21
    Kathy says:

    So timely! My sweet neighbor gave me free reign in picking from his pear trees. I’ve done pear butter, pear quarters in lite syrup, chopped pears to freeze for pies later and have frozen some chopped pears that I plan to use for preserves when I have more time. Will they make a good product after thawing?
    These pears are the hard keifer? pears, but most have been allowed to ripen in the kitchen before I’ve used them. Still, the skins are not pretty and I have elected to peel them all. I hope that isn’t a problem? I’ve still got half a copy paper box full of pears that I need to use ASAP before they go bad! Ahhhhh!

  22. 22
    Jen Stephens says:

    Thank you for this post! Like others, I am new to canning and worried about killing everyone I know with botulism. In the past I would just stick the jar in the fridge assuming I did it wrong. Now I have some guidelines so all that time canning the food is not a waste.

  23. 23
    Anne of Key West says:

    Thanks for the reassurance about bubbles. Just made a batch of Spiced Apple Butter from Laura Krissoff’s “Canning for a New Generation” for an upcoming school bake sale and was concerned about a few tiny bubbles, imagining the whole school closed for Botulism Week. (This is a great recipe for fledgling canners with advice like: “Slow cooker + immersion blender = perfect apple butter, sane and happy apple butter maker.” Will also add that my juicer made swift work of processing the cored, unpeeled apples.)

  24. 24
    Kate says:

    I found your site while googling this topic! Made applesauce for the first time this afternoon and had some bubbles after processing. I though, “Oh no!” because it would have left me scrambling to refrigerate and use up 7 pints. But they sealed well and we’ll be making more this weekend!

  25. 25
    Lina says:

    Thank you for posts like this! I’m a new canner this year, and I’m always freaking out about things like bubbles in my tomatoes (even though I used a spatula to get them out). Please continue posts like these, new canners are grateful!

  26. 26
    AGinPA says:

    Good heavens, what wonderful timing. I just canned apple butter for the first time and struggled for a while to try to push the bubbles out. I didn’t succeed so your post is very reassuring.

    I followed a suggestion I found in the Fedco catalog. I did the whole thing in the oven, starting with putting whole apples directly in the oven, then putting them through the food mill after a couple hours and putting the puree back in the oven. It was much easier than cutting, coring and peeling them first. It’s yummy too.

  27. 27
    Jackie says:

    This is a very welcome post for me too – thank you! And thanks for the advice for rescuing my too-thick cherry preserves a few weeks ago. I ended up rebatching them, and it went well. Heated the preserves gradually with the addition of a cup of honey and the water you suggested; brought them up to a boil, let them cook for a while, and they set up just fine, and to a much better consistency. Lesson learned – next time I’ll know to be a little more patient!

  28. 28
    Kelly Morrison says:

    Last of the tomatoes, beets, carrots and Delicata squash. Yum!

  29. 29
    Kelly Morrison says:

    Delicate squash

  30. 30

    [...] Step 5: By now the glass jars have been simmering in hot water for at least 10 minutes and are ready to fill. I am so cheap, I don’t even have a Jar Lifter so I carefully remove them from the hot water with regular tongs. Using a simple funnel, I fill one jar with the hot applesauce (leaving about 1/4 inch at the top) before getting the next one out (so they don’t cool while sitting on the counter). Run a plastic spatula around the inside of the jar to remove air bubbles. [...]

  31. 31
    Kathleen Kelm says:

    I can lots of apples into applesauce, and have a time saving suggestion. Neither peel nor core the apples. I wash them carefully and halve the apple next to the stem. Next, I yank off the woody part that would make the sauce bitter. Trim off any livestock and mold, but ignore soft bruises and quarter them. Toss the quarters into apple cider/apple juice/ or strained off juices from previous batches of applesauce. Boil in liquid to cover until all is mushy, about 1/2 hour. Dump pot into a colander set in a larger bowl. When cool enough to handle, spoon the drained sauce into the food mill but ideally the KitchenAid power strainer. Reuse the strained off juice in the bowl for the next batch, adding fresh water to cover.
    Using the cheap strainer attachment to the grinder allows me to get all the good stuff out of the core and skin with much less effort with lovely sauce coming out the strainer and woody bits, cellulostic seed casings, seeds and skin coming out separately at the other end into your compost bowl. Kids with recent toilet training seem to find this endlessly interesting. Ahem.
    When canning applesauce, put a tablespoon of apple cider vinegar per quart into the jar before filling it. This reduces the pH slightly improving safety at next to no cost , adding no preceptable flavor. I don’t add anything else to my applesauce because you can always add something later, but can’t take anything out. So Sunday, I went out and gathered 168 pounds of windfall apples for 50 cents per pound. I’ll probably finish up with about 5 pounds of apples per quart of sauce. (I have dehydrated about 30 pounds already into apple slices, canned 12 quarts of apple pie filling and will freeze some.) Hope this message reduces some effort by fellow apple harvesters!

  32. 32

    [...] Air bubbles in finished products How to check that your seal is good How to get rid of canned goods gone bad [...]

  33. 33
    Cindy Lord says:

    I am just starting to can, and I thought I was doing everything. My salsa jars popped (sealed) not long after their 20 minute bath in boiling water. My recipe was specific about the lemon juice and not to add too much non acid or low acid ingredients. I left a 1/4 inch head as told, but forgot to get the bubbles out. Is this a problem?

  34. 34
    Diane in TN says:

    I also made applesauce and apple butter for the first time two days ago and noticed bubbles. I used tongs to lift the jars but found it to be pretty dangerous so I bought jar lifter tongs yesterday. They came with a head guage and a bubble remover that it said to use around the inside of the jar and wondered if it was important to get them out. I noticed they also had a canning book and it said was important to remove the bubbles (but didn’t say why). All my jars of apple butter have small bubbles so I thought I was going to have to remove, reheat, re-sterilize, re-can, re-bath them all. So…your post was very timely in saving me a LOT of time, effort and worry. THANK YOU!

  35. 35
    jenny says:

    Hi. Great post. Last evening I canned quartered peaches. I cooked them in a simple syrup prior to filling in quart jars. Pushed them down into the jar as best I could, added more syrup and then bubbled. After processing them for the required amount of time (35 minutes) I have noticed some rather large empty spaces between the bubbles. I am alittle concerned but all of the seals are tightly shut. Any thoughts or advice would be appreciated.

    • 35.1
      jenny says:

      I should also add that I noticed that there is space at the bottom of the jar with just liquid and the peaches have pushed up with no liquid covering them at the top. I had the right amount of liquid after I pushed out the bubbles. Should I open, put more liquid and reprocess? Thanks for the help. New at canning peaches.

  36. 36
    Mandy says:

    Just wondering – this is probably going to sound like I’m repeating everything that’s been asked, but I just recently canned my pear sauce and unlike the last time I did it, the liquid is separating and there are bubbles in quite a few of the jars. They seem to all have sealed, although I think I may have filled them a bit too high cause they have that very dull thud to them when tapped. Other than that seals look good, but when I tip them the bubbles sort of fuzz around and move. Is this ok? Or do I need to ditch them?
    I also think I may have let it cool a bit more than I did last time.
    Thank-you!!!

  37. 37
  38. 38

    [...] make sure that there are no air bubbles present in the jam before you close the lid. Kim found this post on the Food in Jars website for why this step is [...]

  39. 39
    Rhodes White says:

    I canned applesauce this fall. I just opened my first jar and it has mold on the top. I opened several others and the same. I had two that didnot have mold. I am not eating these because I am not sure. What caused this? I did water baths for the correct amount of time. did I not wipe the lid edges enough? Please help. I spent a lot of time doing this and want to make corrections for next year.

    • 39.1
      Marisa says:

      Did you process those jars in a water bath canner for the appropriate amount of time? And did them see to be tightly sealed when you opened them? It sounds like the either the water bath didn’t kill all the bacteria in the jars or that the seals failed sometime during storage. Make sure to use new (and recently purchased) lids and to process for the correct amount of time. Beyond that, I truly don’t know what to tell you.

  40. 40
    Patricia N. says:

    I made green tomato mincemeat a few months ago and forgot to bubble. There are actually air pockets in the mincemeat. The seals are good and the mincemeat smells fine and looks fine. It does look a little dry on the top compared to other batches I’ve made. Do you think it is ok to eat?
    Love you site; so many interesting things to make. Got your book for Christmas and already made Meyer lemon marmalade. Delicious.

    • 40.1
      Marisa says:

      As long as the seals are good and you followed proper processing instructions, it should be fine. However, if you have any doubt about it, it is also important to follow those instincts and not eat anything that makes you truly uncomfortable.

  41. 41
    Kate says:

    Thank you!!! I just canned some grapefruit (there was a huge sale at the grocery store!) and, despite my best efforts, I seemed to have left a few bubbles in the jars. I’m very new to canning and was panicking!

    Looking forward to exploring your site!

  42. 42
    tracy says:

    I have a question. Last Sept I made for the first time Cherry Pie Filling. I used clear jel per the canning instrucitons. I had some tiny air bubbles when canned, but everything was OK. My last 2 jars have had the liquid seperate from the cherries/clearjel. I’m not sure what has caused this. I’ve searched and haven’t come up with anything. The jars were OK in Feb the last time I made a cherry pie, it’s just recently that liquid seperated. Any ideas?

  43. 43

    [...] (Marisa from Food In Jars says that air bubbles are generally no big deal. See her post about them here: http://foodinjars.com/2011/10/canning-101-air-bubbles-in-finished-products/) [...]

  44. 44
    Naomi says:

    I recently canned some salsa (not chunky, but smooth as my husband prefers). I processed them as directed, and they all sealed. However, there is the presence of tiny bubbles. I’m hoping that when I open one it will be good, but I’ll keep an eye out for “active” bubbles.

  45. 45

    Thanks for the post! Now, if I could just figure out why I always seem to forget to bubble!!

  46. 46
    Cathy says:

    hi this is my first time cainning.i made Apple butter . but I did not boil my jars. I just wash them i did boil the lids i didn’t use a canner either i just put lids on them.they sealed but when i open a jar somethin white was on top of the apple butter.what is It.Is it no good? please help ..

  47. 47

    […] to make sure that there are no air bubbles present in the jam before you close the lid. Kim found this post on the Food in Jars website for why this step is […]

  48. 48
    Merry Mary says:

    I am busy canning peaches from our tree and doing slices, butter and preserves. I came running to the computer in a panic because the peach butter jars are full of little bubbles – in fact, they look JUST like your jar of applesauce. It’s comforting to know it’s okay, especially after I was so careful to try to eliminate them before canning! :-)

  49. 49
    Laurel Hueston says:

    I canned tomatoes,raw packed, in pint jars yesterday, & got out the air bubbles before putting on the lids to place in the canner..when they were finished processing & pulled them out of the water bath canner & let them set to cool for 12 hrs. I noticed that the jars on the outside were sticky & noticed as I was wiping them off that there were air bubbles in the jars & some of the water had siphoned out of the jars..all the jars sealed..any reason as to why this happened?..Also, I had canned sauerkraut & the same thing happened with the sauerkraut as some of the liquid siphoned out of the jars but all jars sealed..

  50. 50
    doni says:

    I have a question, I canned peaches for the first time and when I took them out of the pressure cooker there were white bubbles all in the jar, looked like foam. what did I do wrong, is this a problem?

    • 50.1
      Marisa says:

      Well, peaches do not need to be canned in a pressure canner, so that might be part of the problem. Chances are that the increased pressure and heat forced a great deal of air out of the peach flesh, which resulted in bubbles. As long as the seals are good, they are fine.

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