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Monday, June 4, 2012

Rings and Stacking - What you need to know!


 Why you should remove the rings? Why you shouldn’t stack your jars while in storage?

I am writing this post since it’s important to explain in some detail the answers to these two questions. I also answer this question quite often and it would be good to just post a link to the answers. These are two very important questions because they are both about safety. Not in how you pack your jars or in how you process them but how you store them.

The led in question for me usually is, “How can I tell when the food in my jars has gone bad?”. Most often the way to tell is visual, by what you see. For items that are sugar based like jams and jellies you will see a mold growing around the top edge of the food inside the jar. Please don’t open the jar, scrape the mold off and eat the rest. You might get sick anyway… it’s not like cheese!  For items like pickles and pickling you will see that the brine (vinegar & water/or sugar) inside the jar will start to get cloudy. That is the sign that bacteria is starting to grow. For most other canned items it’s not visual but either by smell or many times by the jars lid and it’s seal. That is where this post is valuable.

The process of canning in a water bath or pressure canning uses the heat to kill the microorganisms in the jar and then drive out the air inside forcing a “suction effect” so that the lid will seal. The lid seals by heating the rubber around the edge and having a clean rim for it to adhere to after water bath or pressure canning.

Bacteria may start to grow overtime if;
A jar that wasn’t processed long enough
The water in the water bath was not at a boil (not enough heat)
The canner was not up to proper pressure (also about not enough heat)
The recipe that you followed did not have enough acid or was not a safe recipe for canning.

You could also have a “false” seal that happens because of temperature change (hot to cool) if you didn’t water bath it at all and kill the bacteria in the jar. (old school)

Sometimes a jar will seal but because the rims of the jar was not wiped properly the jar may give way and unseal itself over time.

As a result what happens is the bacteria will grow up the sides of the jar and push the rubber up and off the glass. Because you still have the rings on over time the rings put continuous pressure on the lid and it will reseal itself. You will not know that there is a problem and bacteria will continue to grow within the jar. Botulism is invisible.

If you removed the ring and there was a problem when you go to open that jar the lid will slide off and/or require no force to remove it. You won’t hear the sound of a vacuum type seal and it would be a clear indication that the food in the jar has something wrong. Make sure to dispose of it properly. Do not put it in the compost.. this is the bad bacteria!

In stacking the jars, even with the rings off, you are creating the same effect. The jar on top of the other is keeping pressure on the lid and again the jar having bacteria can reseal itself.

I know many of you have limited shelf and cabinet space and may be forced to stack your jars. If you have to stack then stack jars like jam and jellies since they are sugar based and will show their problems by growing mold first.

This is so much more than things falling off the shelf or glass breaking, which if you have ever dropped or clinch jars together takes a lot of force to break. I don’t want to scare you or change your ideas about canning but safety is why I started all of this. It’s about the health of you and your loved ones. It’s your choice, but I wanted to give you the facts!

Thanks SB Canning!

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