Learn what methods are out of step in the modern kitchen and replace them with safe, time-saving techniques so you can learn to can the fast, modern way!
1. Using a giant black speckled pot. Those pots work just fine, and are what your grandma may have used, but you don’t have to! The giant black and white speckled pot with the wire rack takes about 35 minutes to come to a boil. That’s a lot of time, energy, and even more so when you want to preserve a second batch. They simply are a time suck that’s really heavy; lugging that huge pot around full of hot water isn’t all that safe. Also, they aren’t useful for anything other than canning. I don’t have room in my kitchen to store something that’s slow, cumbersome, AND really big.
INSTEAD: I have two great solutions to the huge canning pot.
A. Use a pot you already have with a silicone trivet on the bottom. The smaller pot will come to a boil faster, and the silicone trivet will keep the jars from rattling around on the bottom and breaking.
B. Use a steam canner. Steam canners are ready to can in 5 minutes whereas a traditional pot + silicone trivet takes at least 20 minutes. They use the same recipes as a traditional water bath of any size, but are ready to use so much faster! They are lighter, and super easy to use.
2. Simmering your canning lids. I know, I know, your granny simmered so you think you should. Or, you got a utensil kit and it comes with a lid lifter so you feel like surely, you should be pulling the lids out of some hot water, right? Wrong. You DO NOT have to simmer your Ball canning lids (and many other brands — check brand websites or lid packages) and haven’t had to since the 1960’s.
INSTEAD: Use clean, cold, new lids and put them right on your jars full of preserve.
3. Using paraffin wax to seal your jars. Oof. This is a common one. The reason the USDA says you shouldn’t use this method is because it has a high rate of failure and it bypasses the boiling water bath which drives oxygen out of the jar, creates a reliable seal, and parrafin wax “seals” lead to wasted preserve. Also, with wax all over the jar, you can’t tell if your jar has sealed (weakly) or not. Lastly, who wants to pick crumbles of paraffin wax out of their jam?
INSTEAD: Use a steam canner or water bath pot to preserve. Learn more about the canning process here.
4. Using the upside-down method. This is where the jar is filled with preserve, the lid and ring applied, and the whole thing is turned upside down on the counter. A weak seal may form, but the boiling water process is skipped, thus leaving the canner wide open to spoilers growing in their jar.
INSTEAD: Use the simple canning process and either submerge your jars in a water bath (like a hot tub!) or in a steam canner (like a sauna!) Both are great and will result in safely sealed jars.
5. Canning in the oven. This isn’t safe and hasn’t been recommended for years. The short version is that jars aren’t meant to be roasted, can explode, and the risk isn’t worth it.
INSTEAD: Process jars in a water bath or in a steam canner.
6. Sterilizing your canning jars. This step is unnecessary most of the time because most recipes have you processing your jars for the required 10 minutes, thus sterilizing your jars as they are processing.
INSTEAD: Fill warm, clean jars and process for the time specified in the recipe.
What other techniques should I add to the list, GRIT readers? Share in the comments below!
For updated information on safe canning techniques visit the National Center for Home Food Preservation.