Something happened to me the other day that made me think that I should really share some information just in case there are a few people out there that do not know about the dangers of improperly canned foods. At this time I am talking about home canned foods but it can also happen with store-bought can food.
I had just finished canning some beef and bacon brats and needed some space on my kitchen counters so I decided to go ahead and put away the Bread and Butter Hot Pickled Peppers to make some space. I usually leave all my canned jars on my kitchen counter for several days so that I can check and double check the seals on the jars.
Well I guess you could say this was a double good moment that lead to my finding something that could have been much worse further down the road.
The double good came because I had canned enough food that I didn't have enough room to keep it all on my counters for a few days and because of this I rotated my stores immediately. It was because of this rotation that I do when I add to my pantry/food storage that I moved a case of jars to place the case I was adding underneath them. Basically I was following standard FIFO procedures. FIFO is - First In First Out. So if I add new it must go to the back or the bottom of what is already in the pantry. I know common sense but sometimes when we are building our stores it becomes difficult to rotate due to space limitation or shelf constraints.
So anyway, I lift a case of jars up and realize that a lid on one of the jars did not appear to be sitting straight on the rim. Upon further inspection it was not only not sitting properly it was completely loose. Wow! I was stunned. I know I have heard about this happening and I have even seen it happen in other peoples food storage but not in mine. I am very careful with my jars and always double check seals......no triple check seals. That's why I leave them on the counter so long after canning them. I checked those seals so how did they come loose? The only thing I can figure is that because I did not have a band on the jars (I usually remove them after they have cooled but not always) and the case on top of those jars cause uneven pressure on the sealed lid causing it to come unsealed.
When I found the first jar I decided I better check all the jars on the particular shelf and do a quick inspection of the others too. I found two more jars that were not sealed. To my disappointment they were all Tattler lids. To the defense of the Tattler lids it was only those that did not have bands on them. Usually if I am putting a case on top of another one I will make sure to put bands on them but apparently I did not do that this time. I check them all and placed bands on those that did not have bands and I will be checking all the jars again in about a week or so.
So why do I call it killer food stores? Well if I would not have noticed the seal was not complete and perhaps I used it or if one of my family members would have grabbed one of those jars (no they are not supposed to get into my pantry but you know how that goes). I don't know how long those seals were loose. It could have been 10 minutes or 10 weeks. It doesn't matter because it is not safe to eat if it is not properly sealed. With disposable lids you can see the little center popped up if it doesn't seal properly. The tattler lids do not have that so you just check to see if they are tight. You should not be able to pull it off with your fingers. Usually I have to get a butter knife and pry it off.
So air got in those unsealed jars, that means bacteria could get into those jars, that means that botulism can be in those jars. Unlike if something gets moldy and you throw it away or if something smells rancid or sour you can not smell botulism. Botulism has not taste, not smell and no look but it is deadly. As I tell my son it can make you deader than dead.
The bottom line is if something is not sealed properly or if a seal is not difficult to get off......DO NOT eat it. It could kill you! We all want to take care of our families and put up food to get us through the winter or hard times even but if the food is not safe it will do you no good so use every precaution you can to be clean and safe with your home canned goods.