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I was processing venison in 14 pint jars at 10 lb. pressure. It had only begun to process, approx. 10 min. I got an emergency phone call from my Mother and had to turn off the pressure cooker. I left and did not get back for 5 hrs. By that time the cooker was barely warm. I turned the stove back on and began processing all over at 10 lb. pressure but left it go for 90 min. instead of the 75 min. for pints. All sealed, looks great, good color. However, would sitting and cooling down before the 2nd processing cause add'l bacteria to grow in the sitting jars? Or, would the 240+ degrees from the pressure cooker take care of any and all bacteria, whether a little or a lot? I have been canning and putting up foods for 51 years and have never had to stop and restart processing. I'm unsure if the meat would be safe. Anyone else ever have this happen to a low-acid food?

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  • Did it reach temperature before you turned it off? Mar 3, 2018 at 0:03
  • Yes, but only for 10 min. Petcock started to jiggle properly for 10 min. then I had to shut it down. Mar 3, 2018 at 1:20

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I would not keep it or eat it and just consider it a loss. That is a long time for the food to cool down/seal, etc. The processing time is usually carefully calculated so that the core of the product in the jar gets to the proper temp. With the processing time only being 10 mins it would mean only the jar and maybe a small amount on the edges would have gotten to 240 deg F.

I suppose it could make a difference if it was a hot pack vs. cold pack, but I would still not risk it.

Since you're an experienced canner, I assume you already know that it's possible to lose pressure during the process and then restart the time when the canner gets back up to pressure, but that is usually a few minutes at most, not hours.

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  • Yes, I agree and knew that was the best outcome to be safe....., just wanted to have someone else tell me to throw the meat away. Mar 21, 2018 at 22:21
  • @DebraKerlin I know it's so frustrating! Sorry that happened to you!
    – lspare
    Mar 27, 2018 at 20:26
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The doubling time for bacteria cultures is 20 minutes under optimal conditions. You can assume your interrupted canning session produced ideal culture conditions somewhere in the can.

5 hours is 15 doubling times, or 32,000 times more bacteria. That's alot.

The concern with canned meats is for botulism. it kills people. A half dozen botulism bugs can produce a fatal dose of toxin without affecting the taste or smell of the food.

If you re-sterilized the cans properly, it should have killed any botulism which grew during the "pause". However, "should have" is a statistical thing. there may have been a surviving bug out of the hundreds of thousands that grew (50/50 chance ?). Even one botulism bug survivor could grow after the can cooled down.

It's like playing Russian Roulette with 1 bullet and a gun with 1,000,000 chambers.

If you are not convinced you should throw it all away, you can boil the can for an hour before opening it. The boiling is not to kill bugs, but to denature any botulism toxin present. The toxin is a protein .

In a past life I worked the autoclaves (pressure cookers) in a commercial cannery. To this day, if someone gives me home-canned salmon I boil the can before opening it. The boiling does not change the flavor of salmon (it has already had the s**t cooked out of it in the pressure cooker). I assume venison would be the same.

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