Everyone knows that canning jars and lids are far from sterile coming out of the box. One question when it comes to canning is how to sterilize canning lids quickly and safely. Nobody wants their freshly preserved food contaminated by bacteria found on the top or inside of the jar.
If you ask others who have been canning for years, they will tell you that the best way to sterilize canning lids is in boiling water. The National Center for Home Food Preservation claims this method no longer applies to home canners. We now recommend cleaning canning lids and Mason jars right before you plan to fill them.
Whether you are a new canner or an old hand at canning, let us teach you the various methods used now for cleaning canning lids. This includes the canning jar lids, rings, and the jars themselves. Proper sterilization ensures that the finished product will be safe to eat when you open it.
If you are interested in learning how to water bath can fruits and vegetables, the first step is knowing that all your equipment must be sterilized first.
Sterilizing Canning Jar Lids
You may think that the canning lids, rims, and jars you buy are ready for canning when you buy them but it is essential that they are sterilized before you make your own canned tomato juice or other canned produce.
Sterilization helps prevent contamination that could lead to severe illness. Always sterilize all your equipment before canning. There are several ways you can effectively clean your glass jars and find the best way for how to sterilize glass bottles.
Types of Canning Lids
Canning lids are used to seal canning jars to preserve fresh food. The tops provide an airtight seal to ensure food is kept shelf stable for up to 18 months. Home canners can choose between metal-coated lids and plastic lids.
Metal-canning lids are the only lids recommended by the USDA for use in home canning. Plastic lids are not within the USDA guidelines, as the solid rubber gaskets reduce the effectiveness of the vacuum seal and don’t vent well.
We recommend using Ball and Kerr brand products, as they are phthalate-free and BPA-free. They are also used in testing by the USDA to develop home canning standards and guidelines (..). Other brands suffer from a high number of seal failures, and lids tend to buckle easier.
Can you reuse canning lids?
The answer to the question can you reuse canning lids depends on the type. The metal coated tops that are approved by the USDA are one-time use only lids so you will need new lids every year. Although not recommended for home canning, plastic ones are reusable.
Bear in mind that plastic lids lose about 50% of their vacuum over the first year. Plastic lids present other challenges when it comes to canning, such as difficulty sealing, affordability, and difficulty tightening with bands.
How to Pre-Sterilize Jars
There are a few supplies needed for canning that must be cleaned thoroughly before you use them for food storage. This helps to eliminate the chances of contamination with your preserved fruits and vegetables. Jars, lids, and screw bands all need to be cleaned before using them.
The tongs, jar lifter, and any other materials you use must be clean and free of potentially dangerous bacteria. This process is called pre-sterilizing. Cleaning everything removes dust and debris, but also gives you time to inspect the jars and other canning implements for any imperfections before using.
If there are any flaws, including cracks or chips in the jars, you need to discard them. Remove hard water stains by soaking in a solution of one cup 5% acidity vinegar and a gallon of water.
When you are ready to clean your jars, you can clean them by hand or in the dishwasher. In the dishwasher, run them through the regular dishwashing cycle.
By hand, use hot, soapy water to wash the jars, lids, and bands and then make sure to rinse thoroughly. To keep Mason jars warm, leave them inside the dishwasher until needed; use the canner while it’s preheating or create a separate water bath to keep everything warm.
The best way to pre-sterilize your equipment is to use a rack inside your canner. After washing the jars, place them right-side-up inside the canner on top of the rack. Pour hot water inside the large pot to cover the tops of the jars by at least one inch.
Bring the water to a boil on medium-high to high heat. How long you boil the jars depends on your altitude. For elevations less than 1,000 feet, boil for 10 minutes. For each additional 1,000 feet, add an extra minute to the overall boiling time.
Remove clean jars from the water bath canner using a jar lifter. Drain the hot water back into the canner to use later for processing the filled jars. Fill the hot jars with food, remove air bubbles, add the lids, and tighten the bands.
How to Sterilize Canning Lids and Jars
Although you no longer have to learn how to sterilize canning lids, you do need to learn how to sterilize jars, in some instances. Pre-sterilizing is only necessary when the processing time is less than 5 minutes.
In most water bath canning recipes, sterilization isn’t necessary as processing times in the boiling-water canner are generally 10 minutes or longer. Pressure canner recipes for meats, fruits, and vegetables also do not require sterilization as the high heat in the pressure canning process is enough to get the job done.
Sterilization involves submerging your jars in a boiling water bath for at least ten minutes, so sterilization occurs during the canning process. Although it is not necessary to pre-sterilize equipment for processing times longer than ten minutes, it can still be done.
Do Lids Need to be Preheated?
After years of testing, canning lids do not need to be preheated to achieve a good seal. Skipping the pre-heating step does not affect food safety. If you wish to preheat the lids, you can, but never boil them. Lids should be heated in simmering water instead.
Latex is no longer the main component of gaskets, so the seal doesn’t have to be softened to create an effective seal. Now made with Plastisol, seals no longer require this process. The sealing compound used in Ball and Kerr canning lids has remained the same for over forty years, so any seal failures are not related to updates to the canning process.
If you decide to skip the preheating process, wash your canning lids in warm water using mild dish soap. Once clean, store lids at room temperature until you are ready to use them.
Thank you for reading about how to sterilize canning lids. If you found our canning tips helpful, please take a minute to share our ideas about how to clean canning lids with others on Facebook and Pinterest.