Jen here! I’m still quite an amateur (less than 2 months experience) when it comes to preserving my own food. I inherited my mother-in-law’s jars and enamel canner last year, even though I had never canned before. I had high hopes. I finally realized this year that I needed to jump in and learn what I need to know, before high harvest is upon us and I’m drowning (I hope) in tomatoes and apples from my highly optimistic garden. So I’ve been trying things like grape jelly (from store bought juice), applesauce and marmalade. I’ve bought books and read websites and blogs.
Most recently, I received a copy of the canning “bible,” the Ball Blue Book of Preserving (for $4.95 + $2 s/h from FreshPreserving.com – Ball’s official website; currently their online store is being “remodeled” and the book is not available, but soon, it says).
I’ve had a problem, or at least a concern, about the lids on my jars. They’ve sealed – pinged and gone concave on me, but the lids came off easily – no tools but my fingertips necessary. While reading through techniques in the Ball Blue Book of Preserving (hereafter BBB), I came across this:
Home canning lids with sealing compound must be heated for 10 minutes before using to help lids achieve a vacuum seal. Place lids in water to cover and bring water to a simmer (180°F), keeping lids in simmering water until ready for use. (BBB p. 11)
So, when I heated my lids this weekend, I used my thermometer to make sure the water was up to 180°F, which I didn’t know before. And yes, the lids were heated at least 10 minutes, probably significantly longer, as I worked on my orange slices.
Today, I opened one of the jars, and could not remove the lid with my fingertips. I did need my “church key” type can opener (with the blunt lever) to pop the lid off. And the sealing compound had definitely been softened and soundly sealed, looking well used.
I’m glad I learned that lesson now, before I’d done 100s of jars. I trust my seals, but know I’ll need to use the products sooner than later. Thought you all might like to know.