I made a jalepeno/banana pepper relish from my garden two days ago and have since realized that I was supposed to sterilize the jar before doing this.

My fault for not researching enough at the beginning. Though I did submerge the jar full of relish in boiling water for 10 minutes. Would that not have killed all bacteria?

I am not planning on storing this for an extended period of time. I'm hoping to begin using it within the next few weeks.

Is the batch safe to eat, or can I eat it without worry?

  • You don't say what else is in your relish (and the term "relish" can mean a few different things), but peppers are low-acid foods, so unless you've added pickling liquid and tested the pH, it's definitely not shelf-stable; low-acid foods must be pressure-canned, or be refrigerated and consumed within a couple of weeks.
    – Aaronut
    Aug 4, 2013 at 13:39

2 Answers 2


If you are going to eat over the next few weeks, just store the jars in the fridge. They will be safe either way

  • This would definitely be the safest option, especially since it sounds like a low-acid recipe and the author didn't use pressure-canning...
    – Aaronut
    Aug 4, 2013 at 13:31
  • @Aaronut In my home country people making preserves just boil and bottle on the stove, pressure canning is unheard of, so is Botulism. Unless you are making industrial milk powder that is :-)
    – TFD
    Aug 4, 2013 at 22:47
  • If by "preserves" you're referring to fruit, then there's enough acid and sugar not to have to worry about botulism. That's not the case at all with peppers, though.
    – Aaronut
    Aug 5, 2013 at 23:55
  • Tomatoes are a fruit. :)
    – Aaronut
    Aug 6, 2013 at 0:17

In general, for processing times of at least ten minutes, you do not have to pre-sterilize the jar. From the NCHFP:

All jams, jellies, and pickled products processed less than 10 minutes should be filled into sterile empty jars. ...

Empty jars used for vegetables, meats, and fruits to be processed in a pressure canner need not be presterilized. It is also unnecessary to presterilize jars for fruits, tomatoes, and pickled or fermented foods that will be processed 10 minutes or longer in a boiling-water canner.

(Side note: since you mention not having researched enough at the beginning... really, you should have a trusted recipe for things you can. I don't know what was in your relish, but if it wasn't acidic enough, boiling water canning wouldn't make it safe no longer how long you processed it for.)

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