Canning 101: Jar Prep

Your preserved food is only as safe and sanitary as the vessels you put it into. An important step that must not be overlooked is sanitizing and preparing the jars, lids and rings.  There are several methods for this.

The Dishwasher Method

If you have a dishwasher, this is easy.  Just run it on the sanitizing cycle right before you begin canning.  The dishwasher will keep the jars hot until you are ready to fill them.  The heat from the dishwasher will also make the rubber on the jar flat more pliable and ready to seal.

The Water Bath Canner Method

 Assuming that your jars are clean and all you need to do is sterilize them, you can use your water bath canner for this. (This is the method I use, since I no longer have a dishwasher.) Place the jars in the canner, on the rack.  Pour in enough water that it goes over the openings of the jars and fills them.  Bring the canner to a boil and allow it to boil for 10 minutes.  Then use your jar lifter and remove the jars, placing them upside down on a towel or drying rack to drain.  You can reuse the hot water for canning once the jars are filled and lidded. 

The Oven Method

 

You can also use your oven to sterilize your jars. Preheat your oven to 225 degrees Fahrenheit. Place your jars in a roasting pan and slide them into the oven for at least 20 minutes.  At that point, you can turn off the heat, but leave the jars in there until they are ready to be packed.  Warning: (this is kind of a “duh” but I’ll say it anyway!)  The jars will be hotter than heck when you take them out of the oven – take care not to burn yourself when filling them and placing them in the canner!  Sometimes I use this method – when I do, I leave the jars in the roasting pan while I fill them and then use my jar lifter to move them from the roasting pan to the canner.

Sanitizing the Lids

In a small saucepan, bring to a simmer enough water to cover your flats and rings. Do not bring the flats to a rolling boil, as this could damage the sealing compound.  Keep the lids in the hot water and remove them with sterilized tongs or a lid lifter (a cool little magnetic wand) when you are ready to put them on the jars.

*****

Sometimes all of the canning rules sound overwhelming! Please don’t let them scare you.  I’m providing you with the best practices so that you have all the information you need.

Keep in mind that you are not performing open heart surgery.  Nearly all canning recipes have to be processed for more than 10 minutes, which, in conjunction with the pre-sterilization you have performed, should help you to keep your food safe and healthy.

 

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Daisy Luther is a freelance writer and editor.  Her website, The Organic Prepper, offers information on healthy prepping, including premium nutritional choices, general wellness and non-tech solutions. You can follow Daisy on Facebook and Twitter, and you can email her at daisy@theorganicprepper.ca

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4 Comments  to  Canning 101: Jar Prep

  1. lo kilgo says:

    When pressure canning do these methods apply other than the jars being clean to start with?

    • Daisy says:

      Hi – yes, you should still sanitize your jars, even if your pressure canning. :)

      Daisy

      • lo kilgo says:

        I’m confused the ball canning book I have says the jars and contents will be sterilized during the pressure canning process,it’s also in the instruction book I got with the A/A canner I got. Are we talking about the same thing?

        • Daisy Luther says:

          Hi, Lo Kilgo – I’m sorry for the late reply. I somehow missed your question.

          It’s true that some books feel that sterilizing the jars during the pressure canning process is sufficient. My personal choice, and therefore my recommendation, is to sterilize them before adding the food contents to the jar – it’s just an extra safety measure and up to the canner’s discretion.

          I hope this helps to clarify things! Please let me know if you have any further questions. :)

          Daisy

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