Brandy plums are not sealed properly -can I save them?

I'm a novice at jam making but successfully made some mirabelle plum jam a few days ago. To use the remaining plums I made 2 jars of brandy plums on Saturday night. I realised I had run out of jars and bought 2 cheap Kilner-type storage jars from the supermarket but am now worried that they were not proper preserving jars, as the jars have not sealed. I sterilised the jars and rubber seals. I followed the recipe...filled the jars to the brim and clipped the lids closed then left the jars for 24 hrs to cool upside-down. Last night I checked the jars and the seal was not tight at all. I then got distracted and unfortunately forgot to put the jars in the fridge. Now I need to save the situation - Will they be safe to re-process/re-seal? Do I need new jars?

  • Posted by: DaisyD
  • September 12, 2011


DaisyD September 12, 2011
In reply to Greenstuff: I looked at several recipes for using brandy and plums. The one I chose appealed to me as it had a spiced honey and brandy liquor which sounded great. Recipe was in a well respected cookbook and I followed it closely ie pack the fruit in jars, add hot syrup to brim, seal, water bath, leave 24hrs, check seal. I had read somewhere else it was good to invert jar to improve seal. Seems I made a couple of mistakes but will try again!

I really appreciate all the replies - I have learned loads!
Emily H. September 12, 2011
The kilner jars look similar to Weck jars. They process a bit different from a standard metal-lidded Ball jar.

I say throw the fruit in the fridge and eat it! If you process it again, the fruit may get too mushy. I have definitely left jam out for a day to let it cool and ping, only to find it didn't ping so I refrigerated it. :) Also, Hash made a good point, leave yourself some headspace on ALL canned goods. 1/4-1/2 inch!
Bevi September 12, 2011
Here is this NYT article by Melissa Clark. Maybe this is the reference?
Greenstuff September 12, 2011
I'm a when in doubt, don't eat it person, but I'm a little confused about this one. Perhaps I just don't understand the recipe. Many people make brandied fruit without canning or refrigerating at all. Can someone provide a little more info?
Bevi September 12, 2011
I love the ping. And I agree, if you don't hear the ping, place the product in the refrigerator. After a 3-week canning episode (and ongoing) we have lots of "Non-Pings" in our refrigerator. It's not the worst thing in the world!
hah September 12, 2011
DaisyD, aside from the type of jars you used, you write that you filled them to the top. Does that mean you left no headspace for the contents to swell? You should always leave 1/4" or a tad more at the top, to make room for that. Also, make sure to wipe the top of the jar clean, since even a drop on a jar's rim could prevent sealing.

Don't cool the jars upside down. When they're right side up, you'll be able to hear the sound of the lids sealing, kind of like a soft "ping." If you're doing a big job, with several dozen or more jars, it's like a little musical production as they all ping at intervals.

hah September 12, 2011
Oh, my. I wish I could think of the very good company which was destroyed by botulinum contamination. They were an upscale Campbell's sort of company; the pathogen was found in one of their canned soups. You just don't see improper processing in the industrialized countries anymore, but this illustrates that one can never let her guard down.

It's possible that as these little beasties mutate, we're going to have some problems down the road. We've more or less been lucky, so far.

Thanks for the info, u.d.
usuba D. September 12, 2011
To add insult to injury, the US Government just announced a recall of French tapenade products for possible botulinum contamination. Not properly processed.
DaisyD September 12, 2011
Many thanks for the replies. I forgot to say that I did use a water bath after I initially filled and sealed the jars (simmered for 20 mins). Would that have made a difference?
I will follow the advice and err on the side of caution and throw the batch. Luckily we had already had tons of mirabelles so we didn't go short - these were just the last few... but such a shame to waste anything!
hah September 12, 2011
I'm a master food preserver in California (just to give you my creds). usuba dashi is absolutely right. Never take a chance like that. After all, it's just some plums and brandy, hardly worth death.

Always use the proper equipment/tools for food preservation. Sure, I've known some rural folks who use old mayo jars and whatnot with no ill effect. But risks like that are crazy. If people are going to do such things, I always beg them not to feed the contents to children, who can die of smaller doses of pathogens. (The types of botulism don't care how old you are, though.)

I'm Spanish. When I think of the things I ate as a kid, knowing what I know now, I'm amazed I'm alive. My home town back east was settled by a lot of Spanish immigrants. A neighbor woman made the sausages eaten in Asturias and sold them. One blood sausage, morcilla, was smoked for around 24 hours; hung to dry for 72, then canned. But none of these women had pressure canners, which is what you must use for canning low-acid foods such as meat. They--including my grandmother--just used a water bath. No one died, nor even got sick. Life on the wild side, I guess.

It's incredible how few people die or are poisoned each year from home-canned foods. I suspect that deaths are reported; however, I doubt that the illnesses are.
Anyway, as usuba dashi advised--toss the food. It's not worth it.
Helen's A. September 12, 2011
I don't think you can reseal them safely. I don't have experience with that type of canning jar, I always use the lids and bands (Ball type).
I would put them in the fridge and eat right away since they were only out overnight... but that's just me. You may be able to freeze them. I'm curious what others think?
usuba D. September 12, 2011
The biggest fear with any canned item is clostridium botulinum bacteria. It is an exotoxin, another words, even if you re-process a canned product and kill off any microorganisms, they will leave behind a toxin that will do you great harm. Personally, I would not take the chance. . . . I would throw it out.
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