Sunday, June 14, 2015

Testing 1, 2, 3...

You put a lot of work, time and money into pressure canning food. When you are done canning, you just put the jars on the shelf, right? WRONG! I often say "there are questions that newbies don't even know to ask". I don't believe I have seen a list of the simple, yet very important steps to take AFTER you finish a canning batch to optimize and protect your hard work. In my mind each of these little steps are to protect the safety of my family & are so easy to do.
1. When you are finished canning a batch, gently set them out on a dish towel. Allow them to cool down.
2. Listen for the "pings". Though if you are using Tattler lids, they don't ping.

I tend to tap the lids periodically during this time, just in case there is a jar that doesn't seal. Recently, while I was pressure canning green beans, I found one jar that hadn't sealed. If you do this early enough, you are able to pop that jar in the fridge and still be able to use it. 

3. Let the jars cool down completely. Personally, I nestle the jars and cover with another clean dish towel. This will keep drafts off of the jars. I call this tucking them in and letting them sleep overnight. 

4. The next day, remove the rings & wash the jars. When I am washing the jars I actually fiddle with the lids to see if I am able to pop the lid off. Once, I had entire batch of pork where the lids popped off during this stage. This was the day my DH decided to check our the pressure canner in the middle of the canning process. I was sitting in the living room and heard a distinct change in the pressure! I sprang out of my seat and ran into the kitchen and there was DH holding the pressure gauge in his hand. You can imagine my dismay. This was early on in my canning. The entire batch had to be disposed off. If I had just stored this batch, I may have never known the batch hadn't sealed.

5. Leave those rings off.
For me there could be a chance that a jar contents could spoil, while rare - it does happen. If that happens pressure builds up and the seal will break on the lid.
The broken seal on the lid is the indicator, particularly if it doesn't start smelling, that you need to throw that container away.

6. Then I set them out on the counter for a few days and label the lids with a sharpie. 
At this point in my house, my jars go to a staging area. They stay there for a couple weeks. I periodically check them to insure they are still sealed. The jars are then rotated into storage area. 

7. THIS IS IMPORTANT: Stored in a cool, dark, dry place.
Optimal storage temperature is 50-70 degrees. The cooler the storage area is, the longer the food will last. 
"Do not store jars above 95° F or near hot pipes, a range, a furnace, in an insulated attic, or in direct sunlight. Under these conditions, food will lose quality in a few weeks or months and may spoil. Dampness may corrode metal lids, break seals, and allow contamination and spoilage."
(NCHFP Storing Home Canned Food)
8. Inspect all your jars once a year. 

Just to clarify, for safety's sake you ALWAYS use a new lid when canning. Once I have used a lid for pressure canning & it is in decent condition, it goes into a special jar. I will use those lids for vacuum sealing dry goods.
Last, but not least, did you know that you can actually wash sharpie off of the lids? It takes a little elbow grease, but I do it all the time. 

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  1. When we take a lid off the can it gets a big X in a permanent marker that I've found doesn't come off in the dishwasher. Then it can be used for dry goods storage, but never again for canning. :) Everyone knows where the dry good lids are (or for, say, jams we've lost a lid for or something, but again, NOT for canning).

  2. A couple of drops of Dawn takes Sharpies right off jar lids...and plastic freezer bags, too.

  3. But why not keep the ring part of the lid on? I have been given canned green beans and they all had that part of the lid on...never heard of taking it off. Seems like it would keep from knocking the seal part off in transporting it or even in storage.

    1. The ring off allows you to know when an occasional lid pops off. I just was checking some meat I had canned a few weeks ago & had a lid that had popped off. The first one I have found in about a year of canning. But, SOOO glad I found it. it was pork.

    2. Pork is actually miserable. Almost all of the meat failures I've had have been with pork.

      You might want to note that, with Tattlers, you don't need a new lid. :P I'd hate to see someone tossing out their Tattlers after one use.

  4. Sharpie comes out with one wipe with rubbing alcohol, no scrubbing needed :)

  5. The other point of removing the ring is to make sure the jars are clean. Any bit of food out side could possibly seep under that ring and spoil the canned product