Date: May 1989 (Reviewed June 1996)
Source: University of Wisconsin
Cloudiness in canned food liquid often indicates spoilage, so be careful. Cloudiness often accompanies flat sour spoilage, but you can usually detect a bad odor as well. Boil food 10 minutes before you taste it if the liquid is cloudy, or if you are unsure how the food was canned. If the food does not smell normal during boiling, throw it away without tasting. In spoiled foods, the cloudiness will usually be very obvious.
In certain foods, cloudiness may not indicate spoilage. For example, the starch content in over-mature peas and many kinds of dry beans can cause cloudiness. Uneven sizing of products can also cause cloudiness. For example, small tender peas will cook to pieces during heat processing, while more mature peas in the same can will keep their shape. The liquid will be somewhat cloudy under these circumstances.
In home-canned foods, hard water or salt containing impurities or additives, may cause cloudiness. In fruits, over-ripe fruit may make the syrup cloudy. Fermentation causes the liquid on brined dill pickles to become cloudy. In all of these examples, the cloudiness is normal and not harmful.
If you have further questions, please contact your county office of the NDSU Extension Service.
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