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My daughter water bathed carrots and beets and then found out that they should be pressure cooked. Can she just put them in as they are and pressure cook them, or should she start over the whole process of cleaning jars and new lids? Will the food be too overcooked to process them again?

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Ok. I've canned for 30 years. If the beets are pickled they are fine as long as they "popped". The vinegar acidity makes it fine for water bath. I've canned carrots using a pressure canner to "recommended" times. They were a disgusting mush. The only thing I pressure can now are meats and fish. Veggies I just sterilize the jars, cold pack the veggies, add boiling pickle juice or water, seal and then water bath process for 10 mins. When you open a jar it is pretty obvious if the food is spoiled. But this is not the "safe" way to can! As of yet, I've not had a spoiled hat and no one has gotten sick. So just be aware that what I do is not recommended.

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Water-bath processed non-acidic food has the potential to contain botulism. As such it requires extra precautions when opening.

  1. Check the seals. Botulism produces gas which will weaken the seal. If you can press hard enough on the lid to make it flex a visible amount, it might be tainted, throw it out.
  2. Smell it (be careful not to touch the contents yet, botulism can be toxic enough that just dabbing a bit on your lip to taste it can be fatal!) Botulism produces a distinctive odor. If it smells bad, throw it out. Then wash your hands clear up to the elbows!
  3. Boil the food in a pot on the stove. The toxins produced by the botulism varieties that can survive water-bath canning will break down. You need to get it boiling hot all the way through, not just warmed up. My grandmother always said at least ten minutes, longer for things that are bigger than an inch across. Be aware that boiling might not be hot enough at high altitudes, in which case you'll need a pressure cooker.
  4. Feed a spoonful to the family dog and wait 20 minutes to see if it dies or vomits. If it does either then throw the food away and, optionally, bury the dog.
  5. Be aware that even at this point there's still a chance of food poisoning (though it should be only slightly higher than pressure canning if you've done everything right up until now)

If you've done everything properly, your vegetables will be mushy. Live with it. It's better than the alternative.

Or reprocess everything as though you were starting fresh (throw out the water, re-cook everything, and hot-pack the jars) and then use a pressure canner. That will improve your odds of not poisoning yourself by at least a little bit, but this time around your vegetables will still be mush. So you're going to have mush regardless, but if you pressure can them you won't have to re-cook them when you open them.

Theoretically you could just run the sealed jars through the pressure canner, but getting them hot all the way through is tricky. It will definitely require longer than the recommended processing times. Consider the recommended time for "cold-pack" as a minimum (if your canner/recipe directions even give such a thing) and again your vegetables will be mush.

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