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Last summer I made some strawberry jam which I water canned in pint jars according to the directions in the pectin box. It seemed that all the lids sealed (they all popped). Now, though, the jam doesn't look quite right to me--it's a bit brown, especially toward the top of the jars. I'm a little wary of eating or even trying it. What could have caused this? Should I throw it out?

Answer(s)

A

Fruit colors degrade over time.  Some more than others.  The red in strawberry and rhubarb will turn brown in time.  Oxygen speeds up this browning (more brown at surface).  You can minimize the browning or color changes of other fruit jams by getting the best vacuum in jars.  This is done by boiling water canning jars for 15-20 minutes - versus a lesser time.  Another method is to add a little bit of "fruit fresh" ascorbic acid to the fruit when making jam.  Follow fruit fresh directions for use.

Color changes only affect quality and not safety.  Open the jar and smell the jam.  If it smells okay, taste a little bit.  If it tastes okay, then you can eat it as is or add a little red food coloring.

Posted on 14 Jul 2008

Brian Nummer
Food Safety Specialist

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