How to Properly Sterilize Food Canning Jars

JAR CANNING Published October 6th, 2013 3,247 views

Sterilizing Jars

All home-canned foods should be canned according to the procedures in this Guide. Low-acid and tomato foods not canned according to the recommendations in this publication or according to other SDA-endorsed recommendations present a risk of botulism. If it is possible that any deviation from the USDA-endorsed methods occurred, to prevent the risk of botulism, low-acid and tomato foods should e boiled in a saucepan before consuming even if you detect no signs of spoilage. At altitudes below 1,000 ft, boil foods for 10 minutes. Add an additional minute of boiling time for each additional 1,000 ft elevation.

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.

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

The information listed above was extracted from the “Complete Guide to Home Canning,” Agriculture Information Bulletin No. 539, USDA (Revised 2009).

Sterilizing Lids

Place the lids in a small saucepan and heat to a simmer, but don’t boil.

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