Canning 101: How to Help Prevent Jar Breakage

broken jar

Jars break. It happens to the very best of us. While it’s impossible to prevent it from happening 100% of the time, here are a few things you can do to minimize breakage as much as possible.

  • Avoid using metal utensils inside your jars. A quick dip of a spoon should be okay, but when you’re down to your last dregs, use a silicone spatula to capture the last drops of jam instead of scraping with a butter knife. This cuts down on the small scratches that can eventually lead to weak points.
  • Store your jars out of extreme weather. If you live in a climate with hot summers and cold winters, your garage is not the best place for jars. An insulated porch or basement is better.
  • Don’t can in the jars you use for leftover storage or as drinking vessels. The kind of wear that jars experience when they’re used every day extracts a toll that they don’t see when used for canning. They end up being weaker and more prone to breakage in the canning pot.
  • Quick temperature changes are the enemy. If you freeze in jars, make sure to defrost in the fridge. When canning, remember that the jars must be hot before you add more hot liquid. Never submerge a cold jar in a boiling canning pot, it will break.
  • During processing, control your boil. A gentle boil is just fine, and the jars won’t bang around from the force of the water.
  • Choose your canning pot wisely. If you’re canning a small batch, find a smaller pot to process in. Two or three jars in a giant pot are more apt to break.
  • Use a canning rack. It ensures that the jars aren’t in direct contact with the heat of your stove.
  • Never can jars that are only half full. They will float around the pot and are more prone to breakage. Find an appropriately sized jar or keep them in the fridge.

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23 responses to “Canning 101: How to Help Prevent Jar Breakage”

  1. yes! i had jar breakage for the first time in four years this year. i would add that if your pot is too large for the number of jars you’re canning (which i think was my problem), you can fill up the canner with empty jars so they don’t fall over and break or knock around.

  2. Had my first jar break on me this month. I hadn’t even realized the jars were sitting in a draft from my open window while waiting to go in the canner. It was apparently enough to cool them down so when they went in the canner one broke on me. Obviously I won’t be opening the kitchen window while canning anymore.

  3. Oh, I love how jars are good for drinking glasses and food storage, so multipurpose (and the best spill proof lunch container for soup that I’ve found). I’ll have to figure out a way to keep them separate. This very good know.

  4. Broke a jar just last night! Followed the Bernardin book for canning tomato sauce and put the cold lemon juice on the bottom of the hot jar (prior to the hot sauce). Crack! Now I put a ladle of the sauce and then the juice.

  5. I do a lot of small time canning – this past Saturday I canned two jars of apple butter that were just 1/4 pint each. I’ve discovered when I have those small 1/4 pints to process, that putting my metal vegetable steamer basket in the bottom of one of my pots makes the perfect fit, instead of pulling out my big set. The little jars fit perfectly between the slightly sloping sides of the basket and the middle handle, plus the jars are so short that they’re still covered in water by a couple of inches. This is what my steamer basket looks like: http://www.amazon.com/Trudeau-Stainless-Steel-Vegetable-Steamer/dp/B00062B0K6/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1317158938&sr=8-1

  6. Recently processed a bushel of peaches. Some in light syrup, heavy syrup, spiced, and jam. Had a whopping 4 breakages over the course of the day! We looked closely at our processes and the only thing could figure out was that they were all the same “off” brand. No more of those in this house!

  7. I just canned 1/2 pint jars of apple butter. When the canning process was done and I placed them for cooling I noticed that their was a lot of bubbling going on in side jar.
    I heard the covers tink but after a few hours cannot see indentation in middle of cap and some caps have a shadow on them. Do you think they are ok.

  8. I’m really bad and don’t ever use a canning rack! Whenever I have someone over to can I always give them the “I’ve never broken a jar but this might be it!” warning! Hah! Really bad. I don’t use a “real” canning pot so I haven’t figured out a rack situation that fits. Any creative suggestions?

    • I read a tip somewhere that says to attach a bunch of extra rings together to cover the bottom of the pot. Then you can place all of your jars on top of those.

  9. Before Jarden bought up all the jar manufacturers, jars were molded differently. Not that they never could break, but it’s more likely now. It isn’t just the thickness of the glass, it’s also how they mold the bottoms that make them more susceptible to breaking.

  10. Making yogurt in a water bath. No canning machine. I get 1 broken jar for every 15. Seems high. I let the milk come to room temp before putting in water, put a towel on the bottom of the pot, put 3 jars in close-fitting pot, and bring it up to 175 degrees gradually – no strong boil. Still I get breakage. What should I change?

  11. I had never had a jar breakage before today and it was 2 in different batches. Also I had 7 jars of tomatoes that didn’t seal. I’ve never had any of this to happen before. Now I’ve got to reprocess my tomatoes. It’s been a rough day. I used anchor hocking jars. This was the first year I used them.

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