---------- Recipe via Meal-Master (tm) v8.02
  
       Title: Jars and Lids
  Categories: Canning, Information
       Yield: 1 guide
  
  
   Food may be canned in glass jars or metal containers. Metal containers
   can be used only once. They require special sealing equipment and are
   much more costly than jars.
   
   Regular and wide-mouth Mason-type, threaded, home-canning jars with
   self-sealing lids are the best choice (Plate 1). They are available in
   1/2 pint, pint, 1-1/2 pint, quart, and 1/2 gallon sizes. The standard
   jar mouth opening is about 2-3/8 inches. Wide-mouth jars have openings
   of about 3 inches, making them more easily filled and emptied.
   Half-gallon jars may be used for canning very acid juices. Regular-mouth
   decorator jelly jars are available in 8 and 12 ounce sizes. With careful
   use and handling, Mason jars may be reused many times, requiring only
   new lids each time. When jars and lids are used properly, jar seals and
   vacuums are excellent and jar breakage is rare.
   
   Most commercial pint- and quart-size mayonnaise or salad dressing jars
   may be used with new two-piece lids for canning acid foods. However, you
   should expect more seal failures and jar breakage. These jars have a
   narrower sealing surface and are tempered less than Mason jars, and may
   be weakened by repeated contact with metal spoons or knives used in
   dispensing mayonnaise or salad dressing. Seemingly insignificant
   scratches in glass may cause cracking and breakage while processing jars
   in a canner. Mayonnaise-type jars are not recommended for use with foods
   to be processed in a pressure canner because of excessive jar breakage.
   Other commercial jars with mouths that cannot be sealed with two-piece
   canning lids are not recommended for use in canning any food at home.
   
   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.
   
   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.
   
   LID SELECTION, PREPARATION, AND USE:
   The common self-sealing lid consists of a flat metal lid held in place
   by a metal screw band during processing. The flat lid is crimped
   around its bottom edge to form a trough, which is filled with a colored
   gasket compound. When jars are processed, the lid gasket softens and
   flows slightly to cover the jar-sealing surface, yet allows air to
   escape from the jar. The gasket then forms an airtight seal as the jar
   cools. Gaskets in unused lids work well for at least 5 years from date
   of manufacture. The gasket compound in older unused lids may fail to
   seal on jars.
   
   Buy only the quantity of lids you will use in a year To ensure a good
   seal, carefully follow the manufacturer’s directions in preparing lids
   for use. Examine all metal lids carefully. Do not use old, dented, or
   deformed lids, or lids with gaps or other defects in the sealing gasket.
   
   After filling jars with food, release air bubbles by inserting a flat
   plastic (not metal) spatula between the food and the jar. Slowly turn
   the jar and move the spatula up and down to allow air bubbles to escape.
   Adjust the headspace and then clean the jar rim (sealing surface) with a
   dampened paper towel. Place the lid, gasket down, onto the cleaned
   jar-sealing surface. Uncleaned jar-sealing surfaces may cause seal
   failures.
   
   Then fit the metal screw band over the flat lid. Follow the
   manufacturer’s guidelines enclosed with or on the box for tightening the
   jar lids properly.
   
   Do not retighten lids after processing jars. As jars cool, the contents
   in the jar contract, pulling the self-sealing lid firmly against the jar
   to form a high vacuum.
   
   * If rings are too loose, liquid may escape from jars during processing,
   and seals may fail.
   
   * If rings are too tight, air cannot vent during processing, and food
   will discolor during storage. Overtightening also may cause lids to
   buckle and jars to break, especially with raw-packed, pressure-processed
   food.
   
   Screw bands are not needed on stored jars. They can be removed easily
   after jars are cooled. When removed, washed, dried, and stored in a dry
   area, screw bands may be used many times. If left on stored jars, they
   become difficult to remove, often rust, and may not work properly again.
   
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   * USDA Agriculture Information Bulletin No. 539 (rev. 1994) MM by km
  
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