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I'm making stewed tomatoes & forgot to put the lemon juice in before sealing the jars. Will they still be ok or should i start over?

2 Answers 2

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Unfortunately you should start over. The lemon juice (or citric acid) is necessary to get them acidic enough to prevent botulism growth, since tomatoes aren't quite acidic enough on their own.

That means completely starting over, in particular clean and re-sterilize the jars.

You can reuse the lids, though. It does mean slightly increased risk of them not sealing quite properly, but it's still pretty unlikely, and you can just test the seals to catch it and keep whatever doesn't seal in the fridge or freezer.

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  • Thanks for the reply. Can i reuse the jars & lids or do i need to get new lids? I just finished making them so they're still hot.
    – Sandy
    Sep 23, 2017 at 15:47
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    or can i just open the jars & add the lemon juice now?
    – Sandy
    Sep 23, 2017 at 15:47
  • @Sandy it'd be better to re-sterilize the jars, unless you're going to be keeping them in the fridge.
    – Joe
    Sep 23, 2017 at 15:56
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    Depends on cultivar of the tomato, and how ripe they are: onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/j.1365-2621.1979.tb03433.x/…. Best way to tell whether you need add acid is with a pH meter. Sep 24, 2017 at 23:14
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i have been canning tomatoes in many different ways for almost 50 years. I have never used lemon juice or citric acid. If your jars are clean and you follow all instructions correctly, adding lemon juice is not a problem.

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