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Natural and organic Foods Preserving - How To Sterilize Your Canning Jars Firstly, I always sterilize my kitchen counters and sinks. Clean hands always a must. Clean dish cloth, dish towel. All tools out. All food prepped. Oh and prior to all of that, I take a loaf of French bread and make the most humungous sandwich. That way when my three teenagers are hungry, they are allowed to take that submarine sandwich to a spot away from my sterilized jarring area and slice a piece off to eat while I jam or pickle. Secondly, and I know that was a long firstly, make sure you are using the right jar for the right job, 250ml jars are for jams, jellies, antipasto, etc. I use the 500ml jars for my bread and butter pickles (which are the absolute best bar none) and I use the larger 1 litre jars for dill pickles. Thirdly, put a large stock pot filled with water, not to the brim but full enough to cover your jars, lids and screw tabs. I know you don't need to sterilize the screw tabs but I like to - I mean it does not hurt to sterilize them as well. The lids must be sterilized in boiling water to soften the lid and make that seal airtight. Generally, I boil my jars, lids and screw tabs about 10 minutes. I remove everything with tongs in one hand and oven mitt on the other. Please do not put the oven mitt into the inside of the jar. It wouldn't be sterile then. As well, I have my pickling dish towels laid out and that is where I set the jars, lids and screw tabs. Set the jars upright. And yes, I have designated pickling dish towels because for my bread and butter pickles, I use turmeric in that recipe and it stains big time. Now you are ready to fill those jelly jars with your fresh organic fruits and vegetables. This is when you make your jam or your pickling vegetable. When filling your jars leave 1/4" from the top for everything you jam or pickle. When I made my organic jams and pickles this summer (2011), you need to remove the air from the jars after you have filled them. This does not need to be done with dill pickles. So what I do to ensure that there is no spillage, I initially fill my jars to 1/2" from the top. Then I take my rubber spatula and slowly and carefully insert it into the jar and right up against the glass. Then pull up slowly. I do this on average in three different spots along the inside wall of the jar. Voila the air is removed. Then I gently top the jars to within 1/4" of the top.

Before sealing, I run my finger around the top of the jar to ensure there is no spillage. Your jar will not seal properly if you have product on the jar. Put your sterilized lid on and place the screw tab on top. With one hand using your index finger hold that lid in place. With your other hand screw the screw tab on and not too tight. I give it one good turn at the end and that's that. Set them aside and when they are cooled down store them somewhere dark and cool. Like under your basement stairs. Now as you are cleaning up your kitchen and admiring your accomplishments you will hear your lids make a "ping" sound. That is normal. It simply means your canning jars are sealing airtight. When you reward yourself and open your jar filled with yumminess and organisms there is a sound you must hear upon opening. It is said that the screw tabs can be removed 24 hours after processing, but I leave them on for esthetic purposes and I never tighten them unless I am gifting them, which I always do each Christmas. Once you have removed the screw tab, take a butter knife and using the side of the blade, position is between the lip of the jar and the lid. Pull up and you should hear a "pop" when it opens. That means you had an absolute seal and your product is safe to eat. If the sealing lid removes easily or moves itself, that means "don't eat", the seal was not accomplished and your product is compromised. Refrigerate after opening and that is where those screw tabs really assist in keeping freshness in the fridge and another reason I leave them on. Traditionally my family and I have used empty glass mayonnaise jars for canning supplies in the past. Before you jump all over my case let me say I know it is not a recommended method but I have never had any of those jars break on me. I would not recommend their use for pressure canning in any way but for the normal water bath canning they work just fine. The problem these days is that all the previous glass jar products are now using plastic. With these new plastic jars it is difficult to remove the odors which are absorbed into the plastic from the products that it previously contained. I can't even use the new jars for dehydrated foods. Never refuse to try something because you were told it can't be done. Here is proof that it can. For More Information Visit

Natural and organic foods preserving how to sterilize your canning jars