How do I know if my applesauce canning experiment worked? Concerned I'll be giving folks botulism for the holidays

Inspired by a wonderful children's story about applesauce making, our family (including kids age 2 and 4) has been making weekly batches of applesauce throughout the fall and after reading a bit on canning we decided to make applesauce for our friends and family for the holidays. Yesterday we set up our "applesauce factory" and made 15 jars of sauce.

We had places to be so after we pulled the last jar out of the bath, we spread them on the counter to cool and left the house.

This morning I inspected the jars – trying to figure out how I would know if the canning process was successful. I screwed off the rings to see if the lids were tight – they all were.

But I noticed that:
1. Some jars had experienced a bit of leakage during the boiling process – I wiped away a small amount of applesauce from many lids. The lids did seem closed.
2. On a few jars the rings were on very tightly and I couldn’t open it easily and I decided not to try too hard for fear of breaking a seal.
So you know what we did: We sterilized the ball jars in the dishwasher and the lids in boiling water and then put the hot applesauce, fresh made, into the jars. I put the ball jar lids on – the lid and then the rings-- and then submerged the jars on their side (I didn’t have a tall enough pot) for 15 minutes in water as the directions state. I did a quick internet search which seemed to suggest that boiling on their side was OK – something I was nervous about.

Do you have any advice to offer to let me know if we got it right? I would hate it if I did something wrong and got everyone sick. Would also hate if I was hasty enough to do this without any expertise and have now wasted a lot of delicious applesauce…
What to do??
Many many thanks!

  • Posted by: JenZ
  • December 11, 2011


Greenstuff December 12, 2011
I also think you're fine. There's no problem with processing canning jars lying on their sides rather than standing up straight. And I've seen the spewing issue and not had it affect my seals. But ... my own preference for preserving applesauce is to freeze it. I reserve canning for jams and jellies with lots more sugar than applesauce or pickled products with a lot of acid. Maybe I'm overly conservative, but if you have the freezer space, it's an option to consider.
Droplet December 11, 2011
Here are a few tips Jen: first when you say that you submerged the jars for 15 minutes in water, did you count 15 from the moment the whole thing came to a boil? If so, you did that right. I don't know what the capacity of your jars was but bringing it to a boil likely took another 30 minutes prior to counting time. Laying them on their side is ok, as long as they are fully submerged.The spewing problem is usually cause by not leaving enough head space. When things heat they expand and of there is not enough head space, the contents naturally tries to find a way out. Sometimes that can compromise on the quality of the seal if it is too much, and you might need to empty out those jars, rewash them, refill them and sterilise again. The best way to know if a jar has sealed successfully is to press on top of the lid. If it has, the lid would make no clicking sound and would be slightly indented. When the warm air leaves the jar during the cooling process, the seal is sucked in. Anothe useful thing to do when you are making applesauce for the purpose of canning is to add a bit extra lemon juice and sugar in balanced proportions, even if you don't normally do that when you are making small batches for immediate consumption, as both acids and sugar are natural preservatives and extend shelf life of canned products. Hope this helps.
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