Canning Jars

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Canning FAQ

 

Beginner or Expert we understand questions come up.  Working with our network of experts we have compiled a list of answers to our most popular questions.  Our goal is to provide you with answers and resources guaranteeing a safe, successful, and rewarding canning experience.

 

 

 

Are there special steps I should follow preparing canning jars and lids?
Is it necessary to use pressure canning for certain types of food?
What causes jars to break when canning?
Why are jars not sealing?
During storage lids have become unsealed?
Are standard jar sizes important?
How do I can pickled foods, james, jellies, and salsas?
What causes discoloration on the underside of lids?
Is it safe to can any recipe?
During storage foods have frozen, are they safe to eat?

Are there special steps I should follow preparing canning jars and lids?

Prior to using canning jars and lids there are critical instructions that must be followed. First, be sure to refer to manufacturer’s instructions and if not available see our Getting Started section. Check that your canning jars have no visible scratches, dents, chip, or rims. This same inspection should be done with lids and bands ensuring there are no scratches or corrosion.  All supplies are to be washed in hot soapy water. Rinse. Dry bands and set each aside.  Jars and lids must be preheated then kept hot until used.  Preheating includes submerging as water is brought to a simmer near 180°.  Lids are NOT boiled.  Sterilization is required for recipes processed in under 10 minutes.  Sterlization is done by boiling jars in water for 10 minutes.  Allow sterilized jars to remain at a simmering temperature until ready.

Is it necessary to use pressure canning for certain types of food?

Destroying yeasts, molds, enzymes, and bacteria is critical to avoid spoiling…Pressure Canning offers the solution. These microorganisms are removed by boiling at a temperature of 212°F for a specified time period. Temperature and time needed are determined in part by the acidity of the food being canned. Partnered with heat growth of any bacteria is stopped. Some bacteria, such as Clostridium botulinum, can be more difficult to destroy, so canning at a higher temperature is absolutely necessary. Low-acid foods (vegetables, meats, poultry, and seafood) must be canned at a temperature of 240°F or higher and held there for the time specified in the recipe in order to destroy the bacterial spores present in these foods. Pressure canning utilizes pressurized steam to reach this superheated temperature. Therefore, the United States Department of Agriculture recommends pressure canning as the only safe method of preserving low-acid foods. Low-acid foods must be canned at pressures and times stated in current, reliable published canning instructions.

What causes jars to break when canning?

  • Steam leakage in your canner or insufficient amount of water caused canner to become dry during the processing period.
  • Used commercial jars (mayonnaise, peanut butter, etc…) rather than recommended canning jar products.
  • Jars were cracked or nicked before being used.
  • Jars were overfilled/ overpacked with food.
  • Aged or old jars often weaken with age or repeat use.
  • Overtightening of lids (see manufacturer instructions)
  • Immersing cold jars into boiling water will cause cracking.  Be sure jars are hot when placed in canner.
  • Placing jars directly on bottom of canner.  Use a canning rack to avoid breaking when placed in the canner.
  • Pressure dropped too quickly.  Pressure needs to drop at its own rate.

Why are jars not sealing?

  • See manufacturer’s directions for adjustment specifications.
  • Uneven pressure has forced liquid from the jars.  Caused by temperature changes or drafts.
  • Changing of pressure during process due to unsteady heat or steam leaks.
  • Air exhausting too quickly from the canner.
  • Particles of food left on the sealing surface of the jar.  Be sure to wipe surface before placing lids on jars.
  • Jars were overfilled. 1/2 inch of headspace is needed for fruits and tomatoes.  1 inch headspace for vegetables, meats, and seafood.
  • Check to be sure air bubbles are worked out before lids are put in place.

During storage lids have become unsealed?

  • Incorrect processing (check method, processing time, and pressure).
  • Layer of sealant on lid uneven.
  • Liquid was lost during process causing particles to stick on jar rim.
  • Band was tightened after processing causing the seal to dislodge.
  • Jar may contain cracks which permit bacteria and spoilage.

Are standard jar sizes important?

Research has been conducted for half-pint, pint, and quarts forming a scientific approach for perfect canning. It is crucial to follow exact processing times, pressures, and methods.

How do I can pickled foods, jams, jellies, and salsas?

Pickles, beets, sauerkraut, jams, jellies, and salsas are NOT to be canned under pressure. These types of foods are to be preserved using the boiling water method to avoid spoilage, seal breakage, or even lid popping due high acidic levels.

What causes discoloration on the underside of lids?

Sometimes black or brown coloring is found beneath lids caused by natural compounds in some foods. Deposit is harmless and is not a sign of spoilage.

Is it safe to can any recipe?

It may or may not be. If you are a new canner or if you do not have the experience to judge whether or not a recipe is safe to can, then please do not can it. Canning is about preserving food, it is not about being creative in the kitchen. So, if you have a recipe for something that is not a specifically canning recipe, then do not can it. Find a recipe that is specifically for canning.

During storage foods have frozen, are they safe to eat?

Examine jars closely looking for any cracks or damage to the vacuum seal. If there is no damage food should be safe to eat. Home canned food that has frozen during storage typically is less desirable due change in texture, flavor, or color.