Sterilizing Jars for Jams, Pickles, Fermenting, and Canning

Sterilizing your Jars is a very important step in producing great tasting, Long lasting Preserves, Pickles, and Fermented Foods such as Kimchi. Your Food can then be sealed away safe in the knowledge that there is no bacteria. Here's how to properly sterilize your jars.

There are a few ways that you can Sterilise your Jars, Jar lids, seals and accessories such as clips and other metal or glass items. I’ve done some research and it seems that the best way is to use your Oven to make certain that there is nothing in the Jar that could later spoil your Food. Dirty Jars should never be used to Store Food of any kind. Sterilizing is a simple process, and should be carried out Everytime you want to add Food to a Jar. Below are 3 ways you can Sterilize your Jars at Home.

The Oven is the best and most Trusted way to Sterilize Jars at Home

Most of us have an Oven at home, and you have probably just cooked your Jam on top of it, or Prepared your vegetables next to it in the kitchen. Simply preheat the Oven when you start to Prepare your Food, and it will be up to a good temperature to properly Sterilize your Jars, Lids, and Accessories, once you are ready to Transfer your Preserve over.

Step by Step Guide to Sterilize Jars in an Oven

  1. Thoroughly Wash your Jars, and Accessories. This is the start of each of the methods, and will ensure that your jars are in top condition to be sterilized by the Ovens Heat. Wash them with dishwashing detergent, and rinse thoroughly. Place upside down on a clean Tea Towel when finished and leave to drip dry.
  2. Per Heat the oven to 140 C/284 F. Do not go any Higher as there is a chance the glass will break. Allow the Oven to get to heat to full temperature.
  3. Lay a double layer of Baking Paper on each Oven Shelf only, not on the very Bottom of the Oven. If you have a Gas oven with open flames, keep the Baking Paper well away. The middle or the Highest level should be OK.
  4. Arrange the clean dry Jars, and Non Plastic Accessories on top of the Baking Paper. Make sure they are not touching each other. Close the door, and set a timer for a minimum of 20 mins.
  5. Remove the Jars Carefully and place on a Heat Proof Surface. If you have made a Jam, be sure to add it to the Jars when they and the Jam are about the same temperature.

It is important to remember Not to add Hot Produce to Cold Jars, and also Not to add Cold Produce to Hot Jars. This can result in the Jar Shattering, and is dangerous.

How to Sterilize your Jars at Home with a Microwave

This method is one of the fastest ways to Sterilize, however it will still take a while due to space restrictions. Please note to you cannot Sterilize Metal lids or Jar accessories in this way. Never add Metal to a Microwave.

A Step by Step Guide to Sterilize Jars using a Microwave Oven.

  1. Thoroughly Wash the Jars with detergent, and leave to drip dry. Add the Jars to the Microwave Oven when they are slightly wet. This will help with Sterilization.
  2. Add as many Jars as you can without them touching. Leave enough room for the Microwave to work its magic on each and every surface.
  3. Run the Microwave on the highest setting for 30-45 Seconds. Use common sense here, and adjust your time if your Microwave is very High power or increase slightly if it is a Lower power model. Most Home Microwaves range from 600W to 1200W.

Sterilizing your Jars and Accessories is the most important step when Preserving Food of any kind. With the Methods above, you now have some options to get a good Sterilized Jar.

A Dishwasher can also be used to Sterilize Jars at Home

This method requires you to have a Dishwasher with a High Temperature setting. 65 Degrees Celcius is enough to kill most bacteria. Steam DishWashers will also work well, as they are run at High Temperatures. This will ensure proper sterilization of your Jars ready for your Produce.

A Step by Step Guide to Sterilize Jars in a Dishwasher

  1. Thoroughly Wash your Jars with Detergent, rinse well and add them to the dishwasher. Same as with the Oven Method above washing is just a precaution, and a recommended step for proper Sterilization.
  2. Add your normal tablet or liquid and run the Dishwasher on the hottest setting. Do not be tempted to add any other items to the Dishwasher for this method. Also taking out and cleaning the filter at the bottom of the machine is recommended.
  3. Leave them in the Dishwasher and Fill One by One. Take the Jars out one by one, and fill them with your produce. Again if it is a Jam, add the Jam to the Jar, when it is the same Temperature as the Jar.

The methods above are suitable for all Home Preserves

All of the options above use Jam as an example Preserve, but the same Sterilization techniques apply to each and every type of Food Preservation, Fermentation, or Pickling you can do.

If adding Cold produce such as a Kimchi Mix to your jars for example. Follow the steps above, and leave the Jars and accessories either turned upside down on a clean surface such as a Tea Towel, or cover them somehow until you are ready to transfer your food into them.

Take you time, and follow each step carefully for properly Sterilized Jars and Jar accessories.

Ian Hunter

Ian Hunter - Father of three, based in Southern Sweden. Author and Co owner of Grow Zone and growing Food all winter. See my full About Page here.

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