R. Ann Parris on Canning Jars ““ Breaking Rules


Canning Jars — Breaking Rules by R. Ann Parris

I like rules. I do. They exist to keep things fair and safe, and I am of the belief that the strong exist to keep things fair and safe for the weak whenever possible. Sometimes, though, rules can be bent, nudged, squashed flat, or obliterated.

The thing about creating conditional exceptions to rules, though, is that we have to understand why each exists in the first place.

The Rules for Canning Jar Lids & Rims:
#1: You’re not supposed to reuse single-use canning jar lids for canning. I am 100% down with this. It’s a safety thing.

The coating on the lids is deformed during pressure and water-bath steam canning. Even if we could get a lid perfectly aligned again, there may not be enough “give” left in the outer edge to ensure a good, safe, lasting seal, and that seal may be less durable.

#2: Many people/officials/manufacturers prescribe removing the bands/rims/rings from jars once the lids have fully sealed.

Especially in canning (but also possible with other sealing methods), those rings can trap and hold moisture, leading to rust. If it’s just the band rusting, that’s maybe not such a big deal, although we’re going to want to get rid of the rust before we can with it again. However, if that rust spreads to the lid, especially on the edges, it can degrade the seal and cause foods to ruin.

Easy-peasy rules that make total sense.

But… I Do It Differently Anyway.

I tend to lightly scratch the top of lids that have been used in a canner, and reuse those for sealing dry goods. (Unless there’s a notable divot/notch in the lid — those are done-done.)

If you don’t yet have a collection of used canning jar lids, don’t worry.

Neither vac sealing dry goods with a pump nor using oxygen absorbers to seal lids deforms those lids, so they can still be used for regular canning afterward. I did it with absolutely zero problems for years until I accrued my “used, safe” collection.

I also leave the rings/rims/bands on my jars, almost always, canning or vac sealing. There’s a rust risk, but leaving the rims on is handy for things I want to repeatedly open and re-seal.

(This is also where I heavily lean on oxygen absorbers and extra cc’s for the size because you open, use, close, and it reseals automatically instead of busting out the vac pump to ensure an air-tight reseal.)

I also feel like the rings give me security for things that will get handled and moved around a lot, stacked, and bashed up a little. This is my life. Dropping jars and bashing them against the top/frames of cabinets just happens. Happily, they’re tough boogers.

If your life is less klutzy and rough, with fewer things you want an easy air seal on repeatedly, and humidity/rust is more of a concern, you might follow that rule more stringently.

Rules exist for a reason.

We should understand them before we break them. In some cases, though, they exist for a set of circumstances. In others, a different risk outweighs the one rules were created to avoid.

Do, however, be mindful of safety in all things.

Do your own research, try a small test batch for the exceptions, and take the path that fits you best.