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I have a home canning recipe used by my mother in the 1940’s. It calls for 8 lbs. of tomatoes, onions, peppers, celery, 1/2 cup sugar, spices and 3 cups of vinegar. Do I have to be concerned with the product going bad if kept on the shelf for more than 12 -18 months?
Sorry for the slow response. We’ve just now checked our SPAM filter and found several legitimate messages there.
You have to be concerned about using a recipe from the 1940s. It’s not a question of the product going bad, it’s a question of safety of the product.
Extensive testing has been done by the University of Georgia for what you might call “marinara” sauce…a seasoned tomato sauce made with a base of onions, peppers, and celery. The U of Georgia publishes a recipe for this type of sauce, which they call “Spaghetti sauce without meat”. You can find it online at http://nchfp.uga.edu/how/can_03/spaghetti_sauce_meat.html. Their website, the National Center for Home Food Processing and Preservation was established in 2000 as a multi-institutional effort with The University of Georgia and Alabama A&M University. Expert scientists in home food preservation from industry and eight other U.S. universities comprised an advisory committee for the Center. Home food preservation recommendations were updated through laboratory development and testing of products. You can also find a test-based recipe in my book The Home Preserving Bible, on page 301 for “Italian-style Pasta or Pizza Sauce”.
If the spices are different in your recipe, you may use either of the above recipes and alter the spices, herbs, salt, and pepper to suit your taste. You can also increase or decrease the sugar to taste. However, for safety reasons, you should not change the amount of any of the other ingredients, including tomatoes and vegetables, or other ingredients that may be called for in a canning recipe, including water, vinegar, and lemon juice. The relative amounts of these ingredients affect the safety of a recipe. Please adjust either of these modern recipes to suit your taste and keep your canned tomato products safe.
Safely prepared and canned products have an indefinite shelf life. Although flavor starts to deteriorate after 1 year, products as old as 100 years have been shown to be safe to eat (maybe not palatable, but they are safe).