Friday, May 22, 2009

Choosing Canning Jars

To ensure the most reliable seals, you should always use jars with two piece lids. The jar itself can be reused. Check each time to be sure that there are no nicks in the rim. The screw band (which holds the lid in place during processing) can also be reused as long as it is in good condition. However, the lid should only be used once.

I give canned goods as gifts, and request that people return the jars, to be reused. I have found that most people do actually return them. I knew one woman who would even tell people, "if you don't return them, you don't get a gift next year." I have never gone that far.

Standard jars have a mouth that is about 2 1/2 inches in diameter. Wide mouth jars are about 3 inches. If you are filling the jars with something large (peach halves for example) the wider mouth can make it easier to get the food out.

Plastic Storage Caps that are made to fit on the canning jars can be handy after you have opened your jar and you want a convenient lid for storing your open jar in the refrigerator.

Canning Jars with Wire Clamp Lids may have been the most reliable jars at one time, but they are not as reliable as two piece lids. Research shows that you are less likely to get a proper seal with them. Further more, since they do not have a safety button, you have no way of knowing whether or not the jar is sealed. These jars are nice for storing macaroni or dried beans. As for canning with them; why take a chance if you don't have too?

When I was a child, I knew a woman who would reuse jars and lids from the grocery store. I strongly discourage this. These were not designed for home canning. I suppose this would be a little less tempting today, since most everything in the grocery store is plastic.


  1. Where do you even find the jars with wire clamp lids these days. I would love to use them for decorations.

  2. I added a text link to amazon for these jars.

  3. I apologize for missing that earlier. I guess I was sleepy last night.

  4. Charlotte, you answered my question about jars before I could even ask it! I was wondering about the clamp kind (my mother used those) vs. the screw top.

    Cool. Now I feel better about the screw top jars.

  5. Hi Charlotte,

    My daughter (Anna) and I are certainly enjoying your blog! We will be learning about canning as she progresses this summer on her garden. Your blog will be such a learning tool for us! Thank you so much for all of the time and effort you put into explaining canning!
    You can read about her adventures at

    Keep up the great work!
    Leslie from VA

  6. I like Anna's blog. You can tell that she does her research. Thank you for introducing me to it.

  7. Supermarkets here sell lots of "Canning Jars with Wire Clamp Lids" and they by all means cost more. Sometimes I just collected some jars, after finishing honey, or mayo.
    Thanks for the tip.

  8. I bought my canning jars today. I got the 8 oz plain mason jars. They were the most economical. Can't wait to get started!

  9. Hello Ms. Charlotte!

    Momma showed me your blog, and I think that it is very interesting. I can't wait to learn from you about canning when I start harvesting from my garden!

    When you visit my blog, please comment if you see anything that is wrong. I would like to do canning the right way!

    We have a water bath canner and an older pressure cooker. Should we be concerned about having an older pressure cooker? (It is like my Grammy's cooker, and she still uses hers.) What kind of canner do you use?

    Thank you for visiting and commenting on my blog.

  10. Hi Anna,

    There are two main parts of a pressure cooker that I would be worried about wearing out as they get old.

    The first question is, "Is the cooker the type where you know it is up to pressure when the weight gently rocks back and forth or is it the type that has a gauge that tells you the pressure?" If it is the dial gauge, these gauges can become inaccurate over time and they should be checked yearly.

    Your county USDA extension office may be able to tell you where to get it checked locally here is a map that you can use to find your county extension office. Another option is to check the instruction manual the company that made the pressure cooker should have an address where you can mail the gauge to for accuracy checking.

    The second question is, "does the cooker have a rubber sealing ring in the lid?" Some models that have several bolts around the lid for fastening the lid down, don't have a rubber ring. If it is the type where you fasten the lid down by turning the lid to lock it in place, then it should have a rubber seal.

    These rubber rings also wear out. If it is dried up and cracked, or if it feels sticky and gummy, then it should be replaced.

    Personally, my pressure canner is a Presto brand, but it really doesn't matter. Presto, Mirro, and All American are all good brands.

    I like your blog . I hope you enjoy learning to can. Just remember that low acid foods have to be processed in the pressure canner to avoid botulism. High acid foods can be safely processed in a water bath.

  11. Dear Ms. Charlotte,

    Our pressure cooker is Presto. The model number is 7 AV. It is a dial gauge cooker. We will go to the extension agent to get it checked. The pressure cooker has a rubber seal, but we have a new seal for it.

    We got it off of eBay from someone who had bought it at an estate sale. It is in very good condition and hardly used.

    Thank you for taking the time to answer my questions.

  12. Dear Ms. Charlotte. I am considering manufacturing the wire-clamp lid type of canning jar. I am beginning a search for glass production equipment, (used and new), that would enable this production. I believe glass is the safest and most "sustainable", (reusability), material to use with food preservation. I would like to see American culture get away from plastics and other derivatives of the oil least as far as food is concerned.

    If I can obtain the funding for this enterprize, I will make a modest start of it and then plan to patiently see where this will go, as far as marketing is concerned.

    But, I have heeded your warning about using clamp-lid jars and am concerned that corrections regarding the shortcomings of this type cannot be developed.

    Is there ways to make clamp-lid jars better at sealing? Do you have any helpful ideas about this?

    Respectfully Submitted, DAN 1


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