Jars and Lids

jars-and-lidsJars are sold in sizes from 4 ounces to a half-gallon, and with two-piece lids. Most popular are pint and quart sizes with a vacuum-seal lid held in place during processing by a metal band. The underside of the lid (also referred to as a “flat”) has a strip of rubberlike sealing compound on the edge, where it comes in contact with the rim of the jar. A metal screw band holds the lid in place during processing and is removed when the jar has cooled and the jar has been sealed. With these lids, it’s easy to tell when the seal is perfect. The lid makes a definite snapping click or ping when it seals while cooling. The lid curves downward when sealed and remains so. When tapped with a spoon, the sealed lid rings clear. These lids are discarded after one use; the bands are saved.

Before beginning any canning recipe, prepare jars and lids as directed by manufacturer. Keep jars hot until ready to fill.

While we think all glass jars are created equal, we do not recommend using commercial one-time jars that may have held foods such as pickles or pasta sauce. Also, colored glass canning jars that are blue, green, or brown are antiques and should only be used for decorative purposes. You may still find jars with glass lids and clamps and other decorator-type jars available, we recommend using these for storage and decoration, not for canning.

Household utensils and equipment

These include knives, long-handled spoons, saucepans, measuring cups, a colander, scrapers and plenty of hand towels. Always use non-reactive pots and pans when canning. Never use aluminum pots or pans.

Additional Aids

The jar lifter is used for removing jars from the canner. Use one and you won’t burn your hands.

The jar funnel with its wide mouth makes it easy to fill jars without getting the food on the rim of the jars.

bubble freer or bubbler is handy and inexpensive, and makes it easy to get bubbles out of the food before processing. Many bubblers also act as a headspace measuring tool.

lid lifter is a small wand with a magnet on one end that aids in removing hot lids from water.

kitchen timer is needed to accurately keep processing times.

Use a kitchen scale to accurately measure your produce.

Capacities of Canners

1⁄2 PintsPintsQuarts1⁄2 Gallons
4 Quart*44 
6 Quart77
8 Quart14**74
16 Quart20**97
21 Quart18**74***

* Do not use a pressure saucepan for canning foods, they are too lightweight and the safety of food canned in them is questionable. One company, All-American™ does make a 4-quart canner that is heavy enough to produce a safe home-canned product.

** If jars are stacked.

*** Because of the density of the food and the length of time required for processing them; it is not recommended that vegetables be canned in half-gallon containers.

If your plans include making jelly, you will need a jelly bag or cheesecloth to strain the fruit.

Source: Mrs. Wages Home Canning Guide and Recipes, Copyright 2012. All Rights Reserved. For even more canning tips and over 120 tested recipes from our test kitchens, be sure to order the Mrs. Wages Canning Guide.

Get More Canning 101 Tips from Mrs. Wages:

Boiling Water Canning Bath Tips
The Basics of Canning
Canning Equipment You’ll Need