How To Sterilize Canning Jars

How to sterilize canning jars

When you are learning how to do home canning, you'll hear over and over how important sterilized jars are. That's because they are what's going to keep your food from going bad.

However, you don't need to sterilize your jars if you are going to water bath canning for longer than 10 minutes. So if your recipe calls for processing for longer than 10 minutes you are good to wash the jars and put them in hot water to await their yummy goodness.

Always wash your jars before using them. 

Putting your jars in the dishwasher will clean them, but it won't sterilize them well enough for canning. 

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Information on Sterilizing Jars & Preparing Jars for Canning: From the National Center for Home Food Preservation.

Jar Cleaning

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 water.

Sterilization of Empty Jars

All jams, jellies, and pickled products processed less than 10 minutes should be filled into sterile empty jars. To sterilize empty jars, put them right side up on the rack in a boiling-water canner. Fill the canner and jars with hot (not boiling) water to 1 inch above the tops of the jars. Boil 10 minutes at altitudes of less than 1,000 ft. At higher elevations, boil 1 additional minute for each additional 1,000 ft elevation. Remove and drain hot sterilized jars one at a time. Save the hot water for processing filled jars. Fill jars with food, add lids, and tighten screw bands.

Jars for Canning

Empty jars used for vegetables, meats, and fruits to be processed in a pressure canner need not be pre-sterilized. It is also unnecessary to pre-sterilize jars for fruits, tomatoes, and pickled or fermented foods that will be processed 10 minutes or longer in a boiling-water canner.

Source: From the National Center for Home Food Preservation.  

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