Canning jars, lids and rings

Get to know your jars and lids before you begin to preserve all the wonderful jams, jellies or other products you may want to try.

A new season of canning is right around the corner. Whether you are seasoned canner or new to the process, getting ready for preserving all the wonderful jams, jellies or other products you may want to try, requires a discussion about jars and lids.

Jars and lids

Jars are sold in sizes from 4 ounces to a half-gallon, and with two-piece lids. Most popular are pint and quart sizes with a vacuum-seal lid held in place during processing by a metal band. The underside of the lid has a strip of plastisol compound on the edge, where it comes in contact with the rim of the jar. A metal screw band holds the lid in place during processing and is removed when the jar has cooled and the jar has been sealed. With these lids, it’s easy to tell when the seal is perfect. The lid makes a definite snapping click or ping when it seals while cooling. The lid curves downward when sealed and remains so. The lids are discarded after one use; the bands are saved.

Jar cleaning and inspection

Michigan State University Extension and the National Center for Home Food Preservation recommends:

Before every use, wash empty jars in hot water with detergent and rinse well by hand, or wash in a dishwasher. Unrinsed detergents may cause unnatural flavors and colors. These washing methods do not sterilize jars. Scale or hard-water films on jars are easily removed by soaking jars several hours in a solution containing 1 cup of vinegar (5 percent acidity) per gallon of. Before beginning any canning recipe, prepare jars and lids as directed by the manufacturer. Ball recommends the following: “it is no longer necessary to pre-warm lids before use. If you desire, it is still safe to simmer your lids before use, however, you should never boil them. The latex-based lids have been changed to a plastisol which does not require preheating, but doing so will not damage it.”

Remember to inspect jars carefully for any cracks or nicks, as these can cause breakage while in the canner.  It is not recommended to use commercial one-time jars that may have held foods such as pickles or pasta sauce.  You may still find jars with glass lids and clamps and other decorator-type jars available, MSU Extension recommends using these for storage and decoration, not for canning.

With the jars ready to go, you can now look forward to preserving food safely.

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