Top reasons for why your jars may have lost liquid during the hot water bath

Ever spend an afternoon or even a couple of hours pickling or preserving something tasty only to be disappointed when you pull the jars out of the water bath canner and see that the liquid level has dropped significantly? When this happens you are often left scratching your head and wondering what went wrong and wondering if it is still safe to eat.

The top reasons for this occuring (in no particular order) are:

  • Overpacking your jars. I know we want each jar filled with as much goodness as possible, but it is possible to overpack your jars
  • Ensure that after you have filled the jars with brine that you take the time to release air bubbles before sealing the jars
  • Accurately measure the head space provided in the recipe. Over filling the jars can cause them to overflow in the hot water bath
  • If using the raw pack method ensure the brine or liquid you are adding is still HOT when added to the jars
  • Starchy foods tend to absorb more liquid. So make a note to use more liquid when pickling these types of items
  • Don't over or under tighter the band on the jars. Over tightening can cause too much pressure to build up inside of the jar as air attempts to escape and under tightening can allow the lid with the sealing compound to float up off the jar in the water bath.
  • Ensure that you cover the jars with at least an inch of water during the water bath

Is it still safe to eat?

All is not lost. I wouldn't suggest putting these jars in your pantry and planning on storing them for months. However, if the liquid loss is not significant and if your jars have all sealed properly keep an eye on the jars and eat them up quicker than you originally planned.