General Water Bath Canning Instructions
Check Mason jars discarding any that are cracked, nicked, have uneven rims or are otherwise defective. Wash jars and put in water bath canner with enough water to submerse jars and heat for 10 minutes to get them hot. Adding 2 tablespoons of vinegar to the water will help eliminate hard water deposits from forming on the jars. Keep jars hot while preparing food. (It is only necessary to sterilize jars for foods processed less than 10 minutes. Sterilizing is done by boiling jars for 10 minutes.) Prepare lids and rings according to manufacturers directions on the box. Rings may be reused but lids must be new to insure a seal. Pack hot food into hot jars leaving recommended amount of head space.
Using a non metallic instrument like a spatula or plastic knife, run the instrument around the inside of the jar between the jar and the food to remove air bubbles. Use a damp clean cloth and wipe the sealing rim of the jars free of food. Affix lids and adjust rings until just finger tight and load jars onto a rack and lower into a hot water bath canner that is filled half full of water, adding hot water if needed covering the jars by one or two inches of water and bring to a boil. If you don't have a rack, a clean dish towel in the bottom of the canner will do.
Start timing and process the recommended time. Remove jars using a jar lifter and place on a thick towel out of drafts and allow to cool completely. Do not tighten rings that may appear to have loosened. After cooling, rings may be removed, if desired. If any jars have not sealed, refrigerate immediately.
Wash jars to remove any hard water deposits or clinging food and store in a cool, dry, dark place.
When making pickles use 5% acidity vinegar and use pickling salt if recipe calls for salt.
Cynthia F. Daigle
Food Preservation Instructor
Terrebonne Parish, La.
USDA Complete Guide to Home Canning
Ball Blue Book Guide to Home Canning, Freezing and Dehydration
LSU Extention Service