Sealing jars with water bath canning

If you're making any kind of preserves, make sure you're safely sealing your jars. Poorly sealed jars may trap or let in bacteria that can ruin your food or lead to illness. Learning how to safely prepare and store food is an important part of any culinary arts program. Here's how you can use the water bath method to make sure your jams, fruits, salsas or any other preserved foods are safely sealed in their jars: 

What you need:

  • Jars.
  • Two-piece canning jar lids.
  • A water bath canner, or a deep pot with a rack and lid.
  • Prepared food to be canned.
  • Small spatula.
  • Jar lifter.
  • (Optional) Magnetic lid lifter, canning funnel.

How to can:

  1. Begin by washing your jars and lids. To prevent glass breakage due to sudden temperature changes, keep your jars warm. If you've cleaned them in the dishwasher, the easiest way is to leave them in the dishwasher with the door closed. If you washed them by hand, you can put them in a saucepan of simmering water and let them warm there. 
  2. Fill canner or pot halfway with water and bring to a simmer.
  3. Fill your jars with the prepared food. Remove air bubbles in the jar by running a small spatula along the inner walls of the jar. Wipe the rims, place the lids, and screw the lids closed with the rings. 
  4. Place filled jars on the rack so that no jars touch, and split the jars into multiple loads if necessary. Once the rack is full, lower it into the water and cover.
  5. Process the jars for the amount of time called for in your recipe. Different foods require different processing time, so be sure to consult your recipe to determine how long your jars need to sit in the bath. Begin your timer for processing as soon as the water begins to boil. When the foods is done processing, turn off the heat and let your jars sit for five to 10 minutes. 
  6. Using your jar lifter, remove the jars and set on a thick towel or wooden board to prevent sudden temperature changes. Allow to cool completely.
  7. Test the seals by gently pressing on the top of the lids. If the jars are not sealed, the top of the lid will compress with a little bit of pressure. If the top of the jar is firm, your jars are sealed and you can store your preserves. Be sure to label your jars, and store them in a dark, cool and dry place for up to one year.
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