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When is a Water Bath Really Necessary?

16 years ago

I'm sorry. This is a total newbie question. It's my first year growing my own garden. I've seen so many threads here for Water Bath Vs. Pressure Canner but no one's asked about when doing either of those is necessary. Or maybe I didn't search enough. I'm very confused.

I have a salsa recipie that I've made last year that calls for roasting tomatoes, onions, jalapeno peppers in the broiler then adding cilantro and lime juice and putting it all in a blender and heating that on the stove before you put the salsa in sterilized jars. That's the end of it. No Water Bath required. (Came from a Reader's Digest Cookbook)

I planted several english cucumber plants so i've been trying out several pickle recipies. Found one from an old Joy of Cooking book for Olive Oil Pickles that called for vinegar, olive oil, spices to be placed in a jar with the cucumbers WITHOUT HEATING. Just let it sit for 3 weeks and it's supposed to seal? (hasn't yet) Another recipie for sweet lime pickles that had you soak pickles in lime juice then to add the vinegar and sugar and spices and heat and then process in a water bath. Another recipie for Thunder and Lightning Pickles caled for placing cucumbers, hot peppers, and horseradish (I doubled the horseradish and peppers) to be placed in a jar and the hot liquid poured over it. No Water Bath called for. SIGH....

I'm so confused now. I don't want to kill my family with Botulism. I had never even heard about it before this year when I started looking through this forum! I know the Ball Cookbook is tested and true recipies, but I don't want to be limited to just the recipies in that book. How do I know if a recipie from an older cookbook is safe? Is there any good hard and fast rules for when water bathing is necessary and when it isn't? Any links or pointers will be appreciated. Bonks on the head for ignorance will be tolerated.

And just for the record I HATE having to do Water Baths.

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