Welcome back! In the second part of the blog series, we are going to discuss jars, lids and the sterilization process.
According to USDA, glass jars are the best choice for home canning because with careful handling, they may be reused many times. When canning properly, you can achieve an excellent vacuum and glass breakage is very rare. Tempered, Mason-type jars dedicated to home canning are sold widely, but most commercial jars may just as well be used. Every glass jar could be weakened by repeated use however. Seemingly insignificant scratches can cause cracking, and lids get tired after a while too. Make sure your glassware is free of nicks, check the condition of rubber seals on the lids.
Before every use, wash jars in hot water with detergent and rinse well (or wash in a dishwasher), let dry upside down on a clean teatowel. After this your jars are not ready to be filled yet! Choose from the 3 methods below to sterilize them. Be extra careful not to burn yourself. Jars and lids will be very hot, wear kitchen gloves to protect your hands.
Oven dry heat sterilization. Put pre-washed jars upright on a metal tray not touching each other, transfer to preheated oven for 45 min. on 160°C, 25 min. on 180°C, or 10 min. on 200°C.
Boiling-water sterilization. Put jars right side up in a large pot with a rack at the bottom, fill with enough water to cover them completely. Bring water to a boil and simmer for 10 min. Remove and drain hot sterilized jars.
Steam sterilization. Some modern, top-of-the-line dishwashers have steam cycles (look for `Sanitize´ option) capable of reaching and maintaining 70°C or above. If yours is like that, simply fill it up with jars and let it do the rest for you.
Sterilizing lids. Use the boiling-water method. Dry heat can damage the rubber gaskets and thin out plastic parts, resulting in bad seal.
There! You did everything to make sure your containers are safe to fill with all the deliciousness, and it wasn’t even complicated. And now, onto packing processes in the next part of the series. Stay tuned!