New to Canning? Start Here: Boiling Water Bath Canning

stock pot and trivet

For years, there has been a something missing from this site and that was a post that detailed the basics of boiling water bath canning. I didn’t do it in the very beginning and then, as time went on, I felt a little embarrassed about writing that kind of post so late in the game. Whenever people would ask me for it, I would refer them to other websites. However, I’m happy to finally be filling in that gap with this post here today.

pot with trivet inside

So, a little disclaimer to start out with. I’m going to detail my particular canning workflow. This might not be exactly how you do it in your kitchen and that’s okay. We all find ways to make it work with the tools, equipment and space that we have. In the end, the most important things are that you get your jars hot, that you fill them to the proper headspace, and that you process them for the amount of time prescribed by your recipe. There’s a good deal of flexibility in the rest of the details.

filled with jars

As I mentioned in the first post in this series, any pot can be your canning pot as long as it’s tall enough to hold a rack and your jars, and that it allows the jars to be fully submerged in the water. I like this one, but the best pot to use is the one already in your kitchen. Once you’ve picked out your pot, position a rack in the bottom. I have a silicone trivet pictured here, but any round rack, collection of old canning jar rings or a hand towel will work. Then put your jars in the pot.

filling with water

Then, fill up the jars and pot with water. I like to use the hottest tap water available, as it speeds up the boiling process a bit to start.

all filled up

It’s a little hard to see in this picture, but at this point, I only fill the pot enough to just barely cover the tallest jar I’m using. This should be more than enough water for the processing stage, because once you lower your filled jars in the pot, they will displace enough water to sufficiently cover the jars (sometimes, you need to remove a little water from the pot to prevent overflow. If this becomes necessary, use something heatproof, like a Pyrex measuring cup so that you don’t burn yourself).

white vinegar

It is always a good idea to pour a generous glug of white vinegar into your canning pot before you start heating it. This will prevent any minerals present in your water from depositing on your canning pot or jars. I don’t live in a place with particularly hard water, but I still do this because it keeps my pot in good shape and makes it easier to clean.

canning pot on stove

Now the pot is ready to go on the stove an come to a boil. I do all of this before I ever apply heat to my preserves. That way, the canning pot has a head start on my product and the jars will be nice and hot when I’m ready to use them.


Here’s where my practice diverges a little from what the  canning books will tell you. Almost all instructions (even those printed in my cookbook), will instruct you to take out a small saucepan, place the lids in it, cover them with water and bring it to a very gentle simmer. While this is good in theory (you don’t want to over soften the sealing compound), I rarely do it in practice.

Instead, I watch my heating canning pot. When it reaches a boil, I turn it down to a simmer and drop my lids in. Everything stays nice and hot until I need to use it. The sealing compound gets to the perfect level of softness and I am a happy canner.

Recently, the experts at Ball Canning announced that it’s no longer necessary to simmer lids prior to canning, as the Plastisol sealant doesn’t require softening. Instead, just make sure to wash your lids in warm, soapy water before applying them to filled jars. More information about this can be found here.

removing hot jars

When the product is ready to go into the jars, I slide the canning pot off the heat and pull out the jars with a handy jar lifter. Just a note: These jars are hot, but not sterilized, because I turn the heat down to a simmer as soon as the pot boils. This works because the filled jars get boiled for at least ten minutes (and often longer) during the processing step.

However, if your recipe calls for a processing time that is shorter than ten minutes, you either need to increase the processing time to ten minutes, or you need to actively boil your jars for at least ten minutes before filled, to ensure you have sterilized jars.

ready to fill

Now you fill up your jars, leaving the amount of headspace required by your recipe. If the recipe doesn’t tell you how much headspace to leave, go for approximately 1/2 inch. That’s typically enough for most products.

filled jars

Before applying the lids and rings, wipe the rims with a damp paper towel (I use the hot water from the canning pot as my dampening water, as the heat helps remove any stubborn sticky spots. If your product is super sticky, a little white vinegar on the cleaning cloth will help).

Then, center a lid on each jar and secure it with a ring. Don’t over tighten the rings, because there needs to be enough space for the oxygen in the jars to escape. The term for this level of tightening is called “finger tip tight” meaning that you only tighten as much as you can with the tips of your fingers. I always tell my canning students that you turn just until the ring meets resistance.


Once all the jars have lids and rings, lower them into your canning pot. Make sure the jars are fully submerged and are covered with about an inch of water (you need that much to ensure that they won’t become exposed during boiling). Turn the burner to high. When the pot returns to a boil, set a a timer to the prescribed amount of processing time.

You do want to maintain an active boil throughout the processing of the jars, but make sure you control your boil. If the pot is madly rolling, the chances that you will burn yourself increase. Turn it down a little, to minimize splashing and injury.

removing finished jars

When time is up, turn off the heat. If you have an electric stove that stays hot for a while, slide the pot off the burner. You don’t want the water to be rolling when you reach in with your jar lifter. Then, lift your jars out of the pot and place them on a folded kitchen towel to cool (if you have countertops made from marble, granite, stainless steel or some other surface that stays cool, the towel is really important so that you don’t shock your jars).

If you find that your product is leaking out of the jars when you pull them out of the canner, put the jars back in the water and let them cool gradually in the pot for five to ten minutes. One of the reasons that liquid loss occurs is that rapid cooling causes a powerful pressure differential that can forces product out of the jars. By letting your jars cool more slowly, you reduce the force of pressure and more product stays where you want it.

all done

Once the jars are out of the canner, leave them alone and let them cool. Hopefully, you’ll hear a symphony of popping and pinging lids. This is good, it means that the seals are being formed. However, don’t freak out if you don’t hear those noises. Jars sometimes seal slowly and quietly. Once the jars are cool enough to handle, remove the rings and test the seals by holding onto the edges of the lids and lifting up an inch or two. If the lids hold fast, the seals are good.

Sealed jars should be stored in a cool, dark place without the rings. If the jars are at all sticky after processing, make sure to wash them before you put them away. Any sticky residue can attracts ants and other pests, so make sure your jars are squeaky clean.

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506 responses to “New to Canning? Start Here: Boiling Water Bath Canning”

  1. Thank you SO MUCH for this post. I was toggling among various posts of yours and the Ball jar canning guide last weekend while I attempted my first-ever jam (plum). This post will make it much easier for me next time, and will cut down on the number of pots on my stove.

  2. I’ve been keen on canning for a while but the process always seemed too complicated! You’ve really simplified it for me, so thank you very much for this post 😀

  3. Even though I have been canning for 30+ years I’ve learned something from you today!!! I will start putting that ‘glug’ of white vinegar in…I’ve always lived in the midwest and for the most part have very hard water and yes I get mineral deposits on everything. How very simple but I’ve never thought of it! Thank you!

  4. I have a question about sterilizing jars. Your book has pickle recipes (which I made last year with great results – thank you!) that require sterilizing the jars because the processing time is less than 10 minutes. But I don’t understand how the jars stay sterile once I pull them from the pot and start filling them. My jar lifter, hands, funnel, rim-wiping cloth, etc are all clean of course, but not sterile, and they come into contact w the jar during filling. I feel like I’m defeating the purpose of sterilizing my jars! Am I doing something wrong? I will note that all of the pickles I made last year using your sterilized jars/5 min processing time instructions sealed well, did not have any spoilage and were far crisper (and more delicious) than pickles I made the prior year with a 10 min processing time. So I will definitely continue to use your method, but am just curious about the question I raised. Thanks!

  5. I started canning last year using your book with excellent results. But I’m curious, why is it important to store the jars without the rings?

    • Yes please, I also am curious to know this. It is not something I have heard before, and would love to know the reasoning.

    • Not Marisa but…if your lids sealed properly you don’t need the rings to hold in place. The rings will rust/corrode and you don’t want them to become one with the jar. Lastly when you buy new jars they come with a lid and ring. After that you can reuse the jars and rings and only buy new lids. You’ll slowly lose some rings to corrosion and loss but can survive with fewer rings if you don’t store them with each filled jar.

      • Also not Marisa but…in addition to all the great reasons Mary W writes about, there is one more. Jars can loose their seal after time, and if they do, the ring will keep the lid on and pressure will build inside the jar as the contents start fermenting. Explosions can happen! If the rings are not there, you won’t have such a mess in your pantry.

      • Yes to everything Mary W said! I believe it is also because the rings can make it look like your jars are still sealed properly, even if they aren’t. You don’t want a ton of spoiled goods sitting on your pantry shelf!

  6. Marisa, this is a bit random, but how do you keep the silicone trivet in place before you put the jars in? I bought the same one (except mine is black) back when you first posted about it, but mine will not expand to a larger size and remain flat in the bottom of the pot.

  7. I might start adding the vinegar to my canning water. Our local water is relatively soft, but I do get a little bit of residue on the rack after several canning sessions.

    Thanks for the basics! I’ve only been canning for a few years, so I always learn something new.

  8. Thanks so much for the vinegar tip! Finally no more powdery white jars. I use the same canning set up with the same trivet (in green)…which made me super excited when I saw this. The pieces are all multi-functional and that trivet is fun!

  9. Vinegar also new to me………….Have gallons on hand at all times,so, will try to remember to add it to the water. Can’t hurt,right?

  10. This is such a great resource, thanks Marisa! This might be a silly question, but do you process the jars with the pot covered or uncovered?

      • Thank you! I figured as much, but wasn’t sure if there was some technical reason to leave the lid off… I just made a batch of strawberry-raspberry honey jam following the method you outlined in this post and it went off without a hitch 🙂

  11. Thanks for posting this – I’ve only recently started visiting your site, and I’ve been disappointed that there haven’t been more basic how-to posts. This is exactly what I’ve been looking for.

  12. Thank you for the vinegar tip! The water in these parts is very hard.

    How hard is it?

    Two days after getting a new tea kettle, there were already noticeable hard water deposits.

    Oh well. I partially credit the calcium rich waters I grew up with for the fact that I never broken a bone (despite being a klutz) and have only ever had two fillings in my life.

  13. Great tip with the vinegar!

    This is what I do for the flat lids: I put all the flat lids in a small heatproof bowl. Then when I take the jars out to fill them, I pour the hot water that is currently in one of the jars into the bowl. The lids get heated while I fill the jars, and it is easier to fish them out of the little bowl than the big canning pot!

  14. Silly questions : How dry should the lids ( and sealing compound ) be , when placed on the jars?

    Are slightly corroded rims acceptable to use?

    Beside encouraging corrosion, are there any negatives to keeping the rims in place?


    • You don’t need to dry the lids at all before pulling them from the water. They should be hot enough that the water mostly evaporates off.

      It’s perfectly acceptable to use lightly stained and rusted rings. However, if they are really hard to get on and off the jars, I wouldn’t use them.

      You want to remove rings from the jars because if somethings goes bad in the jars, you’ll know sooner.

  15. I’ve been canning for a couple of years but have never heard of putting vinegar in the canning pot, so this was a great post even for the non-newbie. Thanks for the tip!

  16. Oh! Thank you for the vinegar tip! I’ve been BUYING distilled water for the canner because the water here is so hard. I’ve made 24 jars of jam this morning using tap water and a glug of white vinegar, and the jars are beautifully clean and shiny.

  17. Love this post, Marisa. Even though I’ve canned for a few years now, thanks to your blog, I found little hints that will make my process much better. This is so good, you should repost it every year at the beginning of canning season! Thank you for doing it!

  18. Love this post, Marisa. Even though I’ve canned for a few years now, thanks to your blog, I found little hints that will make my process much better. This is so good, you should repost it every year at the beginning of canning season! Thank you for doing it!

  19. Thanks, this post is a good tutorial and reassured me that I’m doing things right! Using a makeshift canning rack for jams and jellies is alright, but I’m a big fan of a proper canning rack for canning fruit. A rack allows you to lift the jars partly out of the boiling water all at once. I learned the hard way that if you do that and then let the liquid in the jars stop boiling before you move them, you are less likely to lose syrup via boil overs. Less mess and a better product in the end. Plus it’s faster than letting the whole canner cool down if you are processing more than one batch.

    The vinegar is a good tip. I knew that but I keep forgetting to do it. Hard water deposits come off the jars easily if you use a vinegar-soaked rag to wipe them before you put them away. Yeah, I learned that the hard way too…

  20. Surprised that no one else has commented on this yet. This may not be a problem in certain cities, but if you live in an old house with old plumbing, please DO NOT use hot water straight from the tap.

    The Claim: Never Drink Hot Water From the Tap

    Published: January 29, 2008


    The claim has the ring of a myth. But environmental scientists say it is real.

    The reason is that hot water dissolves contaminants more quickly than cold water, and many pipes in homes contain lead that can leach into water. And lead can damage the brain and nervous system, especially in young children.

    Lead is rarely found in source water, but can enter it through corroded plumbing. The Environmental Protection Agency says that older homes are more likely to have lead pipes and fixtures, but that even newer plumbing advertised as “lead-free” can still contain as much as 8 percent lead. A study published in The Journal of Environmental Health in 2002 found that tap water represented 14 to 20 percent of total lead exposure.

    Scientists emphasize that the risk is small. But to minimize it, the E.P.A. says cold tap water should always be used for preparing baby formula, cooking and drinking. It also warns that boiling water does not remove lead but can actually increase its concentration. More information is at or (800) 424-5323 (LEAD).


    Hot water from the tap should never be used for cooking or drinking.

    • I’m aware of the issues around using hot water from the tap for cooking and drinking. However, the water in a canning pot isn’t really ever in contact with your food. Yes, it’s in contact with the jars during the heating process, but it evaporates quickly and, with the addition of the vinegar, leaves no discernable residue behind. I certainly wouldn’t advocate using hot tap water for drinking, soup making, or pasta cooking, but I do think that in this case, it’s pretty harmless.

  21. I don’t understand what the difference is between warming the lids in a separate small pot versus warming them in the pot with the jars.

  22. Thank you for this post! I’ve been canning for a few years but I still had no idea how to estimate the right amount of water so it doesn’t overflow when you put the full jars in. Last year, canning 6 quarts of peaches, there was absurdly too much water in the pot, and bailing boiling water out of it was no picnic. You have also inspired me to finally buy one of those silicone trivets. Hooray for taking the little hassles out of canning!

    • Here’s a trick I tried just last night and it worked. I filled my pot to a level I knew would be too low once the jars were in. However, I had my tea kettle going so that once the jars were all in, I simply poured more boiling water right on top, to just the right level. Worked like a charm. 🙂

  23. Thanks for posting! Quick question -I’m new to canning and have made a batch of strawberry jam and blueberry butter. When I put the jars into the water bath for processing -and when I took them out after processing -several of them tipped over in transport (nothing came out of the jar -the contents just rolled around inside a bit). They still sealed properly, but should I use them immediately rather than put them on the shelf?

  24. Hi All!

    Marisa (or anyone else here)…do you have any favorite jars from Filmore? I am a Philly native and would love to support a more local business.

    I really want to move to a jar with smooth sides and no stamping. I did read your post on using continuous thread jars and tops with plastisol and that was so helpful! I will steer myself away from the lug jars. I was just wondering if you had any shapes or sizes that you really enjoy.

    And would a 9oz jar work? It seems like an odd size since canning is mostly done in pints and half pints.

    Randomly…I’ve been talking alot about canning with strangers this week in my travels (must be on people’s minds with summer harvests starting) and have recommended your book over and over. It’s my favorite!

  25. Thank you for the tutorial. I love how you are using a silicone trivet instead of a canning rack! Great idea! Now I am going to go out and buy one.
    My favorite canning tool is my huge old Farberware stock pot. I have used it in my canning since my now-grown kids were little. I would be lost without it. It is big, heats evenly, and is a snap to clean up – even with a sticky mess like jam makin’s.

  26. I canned some blueberry jam yesterday from one of your recipes. I am relatively new to canning. This time, I forgot to boil the jars (they were clean) before I filled them with the really hot blueberry mixture. I processed them for ten minutes and they immediately sealed. Now I’m worried about missing that important step. What should I do?

  27. I live at high altitude (Colorado) and have a glass top stove. I saw in the inside look of your book on Amazon (which I just ordered) that I should add about 15 minutes to cooking time for the altitude. Should I add more time to that because of the stove?

    I had read somewhere else that canning can’t be done with a glasstop stove but then met a woman who said she has been doing it for years, just keeps it all on the heat longer. I just wasn’t sure of how much longer would be enough.

    Thank you! Great blog, I haven’t tried canning yet and have wanted to for so long. I am very excited to start. Ordered the trivet to use in a big tall pot I have.

    • You do need to make the altitude adjustments, but you don’t need to increase the time more that than. Sometimes flat top stoves cycle the heat on and off, which can interfere with a boil. However, I’ve canned on flat top stoves and haven’t noticed an issue. Other reasons it’s not recommended are that sometimes the weight of a large, full canner can be too much for the stove and there’s a risk of a seal being formed between the stove and the pot (which could break the glass). I solve this by using medium-sized, flat bottomed pot and haven’t had any issues.

      • Thank you so much Marisa, I really appreciate all of your help. i am going to look through your blog now and find a recipe to make my first batch of jam. I’m very excited to do it and I am really looking forward to getting your book!

  28. Thank you SO much!! I have wanted to can my entire life, but was totally freaked out until reading this. This week so far I have canned the Strawberry Vanilla Jam & Zucchini Relish 🙂
    One question, do you take out the rings & lids when you take out the jars or just before you put them on your filled jars?

  29. […] one of my favorite food bloggers wrote an post with step by step canning instructions. After reading it over it seemed more manageable, and after […]

  30. Thanks so much for this post. After years of being frustrated with how complicated canning seems, last night I just went for it and did what I thought was right. This post confirmed that my instincts are right and now I look forward to many more canning projects!

  31. I live at high altitude (Denver), so I have to add processing time to all my recipes. Would the altitude extend the minimum length of time that a jar would need to be processed to be sterilized beyond the 10 minute time you mention in your instructions?

  32. Thanks for this great resource! Glad to have the confirmation that what I do is sound, and like others, I’ll be sure to start adding some vinegar to my very calcium-rich tap water!

    I’d be interested in seeing information from you on flat top stoves (don’t remember seeing that from you previously). I love canning each summer, but am in the market for a new range. However, I’m scared from what I’ve read to jump in an get a flat top range (glass top) because I’ve seen conflicting information. As it stands, I just do water bath canning, but I know my stove top gets VERY hot. Any advice in response to this or as a blog post would be VERY much appreciated! Thanks for your fantastic blog!

  33. I used a hot water bath method for pickles 2 days ago. I put them in a hot water bath for 17 minutes but did not have the water covering the jars. It was 2 inches below the tops. They all sealed without a problem. My question is this…do I have to or should I re-do them or will they be fine the way they are? The finished jars have an air space above the pickles and are not completely covered. Next time I will do it better. Thanks for all your help

  34. I canned 48 small jars of prickly pear cactus jelly yesterday but did not boil the jars after sealing all of the lids popped down Do i need to boil them now or it is to late? Learning curve ……

  35. I was reading this to remind myself how long to sterilize the jars and found a wonderful tip about the vinegar. Thanks so much. No more white jars!
    I always make large batches and once my jars are sterile I put them in a 170 degree oven. This keeps them sterile and hot, ready to fill. Then I can do all my sterilizing at once.
    Also for jam I pack everything hot, hot jars, lids, and jam, and do not can them. It is not necessary as the jam is already cooked enough. It will save you time and the jars will still seal.
    Thank you so much for a great post.

    • Normajeam, it’s actually not recommended that you skip the boiling water bath canning process. It improves the quality of your seal and ensures that any bacteria is killed.

  36. So I guess I should have read this first. It is my first time…I went off someone’s verbal directions. She never told me to boil the jars first or to dampen the rims. I cleaned them off with a paper towel. I have 6 pint jars filled with a runnier salsa. I boiled them for about 20 minutes and they are sitting to cool right now. I have not heard any sealing yet, but 3 of the jars do not make the “pop” sound when I push on the middle of the lid. Obviously, 3 do. So if I am getting this straight, 3 are sealed good and 3 aren’t? Also another thing I have noticed is that a fifth of each jar on the bottom is watery. Is this from my tomatoes or did water get leaked in during the boiling. Please help, I have no idea what I am doing.

  37. Gosh, I wish I’d read this post yesterday…

    I just ordered a water bath canning pot and rack (that I absolutely do not have room for in my little kitchen), because I couldn’t find anything in my kitchen to lift the jars off the bottom. Never even considered a hand towel or extra rings!

  38. I had always given the jar rings a twist to tighten them after I removed them from the canner. My jars always seal, but should I not be tightening them more? I am also looking at using the one piece lids with the plastisol seal and wondering the same about them. I am attempting to make some ice cream toppings and putting them in the small 4 oz. jars for Xmas gifts bags. So these water bath instructions should do the trick, but if you have any suggestions they are greatly appreciated..

  39. Hi – My question is about the processing time and boiling during the water bath part of the canning procedure. Today I made 6 quarts of apple pie filling. I have a huge black enamel water bath that I’ve used for years, but I don’t generally use quart-size jars. So, I had everything ready to go, put jars filled with the pie filling in the water bath, and as it came back to a boil, it boiled over and put out the flame on the stove. It was very full – with the 6 quart jars in the lifter the water level was very high – so I took out some of the water and put it back to boil. It kept boiling over. I took out as much water as I could but wanted to leave the level at least an inch above the jar tops. So, I turned the heat down a bit so it would stop boiling over. The processing time was supposed to be 20-30 minutes. I realized, with about 10 min. to go, that the water wasn’t actually boiling anymore – it was just below that level. I don’t know for how long it wasn’t boiling. So I turned it back up, had to remove more water as it boiled over again, and I did that for another 10 minutes or so. Then I removed the jars and put them on the table to set because I didn’t know if it would be bad to leave them in the water bath for too long. IF they seal, will they be preserved without 20-30 straight min. at a full boil? If not, can I re-process them like you can do with jam that doesn’t set? Thanks in advance for your reply.

    • The processing you’ve described is not ideal. Are you putting a lid on your canner? That helps control the evaporation and ensures a more constant boil.

  40. I have enjoyed your blog for some months now, but have felt too intimidated to jump in to canning. Then I *had* to do something with the pile of Jerusalem artichokes my family just couldn’t eat fast enough. I processed 10 half pints of choke pickles this evening and am listening to them hiss and pop this very minute. If it wasn’t for you, I would never have thought to can on a small scale.

    I am close enough to attend one of your classes, so I am watching your schedule for one that works for me. Thanks so much!

  41. Hi there! Great blog!

    I have a question about canning. I recently canned some tomato soup and I didn’t put the lid on the pot of boiling water during processing (doh!). Do you know if the soup is still good?


  42. Im new to canning and made my first batch of Jalapeno jelly after following your processing method. I would like to ask a question re my processed jars after they have cooled and sealed properly, I noticed droplets of water hanging in the lids while i was inspecting the jars. I would just like to know if they are still safe to consume? i warmed the lids before putting them on — am i doing something wrong with my processing the jars?

  43. Hi! I made some pepper jelly recently and as I poured the jelly into the sterilized jars and added the lids, one of the jars actually sealed up right away – I heard the ping of the lid and it was no longer popped up. I just put that one in the fridge right away without processing it, figured I made a mistake, but would I even need to process it since it seemed to seal up on its own? Is it possible they can seal before the water bath?

    • If both the jars and the product are piping hot, jars can absolutely seal right away without processing. However, it’s not a particularly strong seal and you can still process the jars in the water bath to ensure a fully sterilized product. They’ll unseal in the canner and then seal again once you take them out. The water bath will give you an optimum seal and does the job of killing off any bacteria present.

  44. […] to do sometimes. I sat down and read everything about canning in my Joy of Cooking, and read up on boiling water canning on Food in Jars. This was also supplemented by what Marisa (A’s mom) told me, namely that per her […]

  45. Thanks for this information! I was looking up recipes for refrigerator pickles and kept seeing “seal in a water bath” at the end of the recipes. That confused me because that sounded like canning- which seems VERY intimidating!! but canned items last longer so I kept an open mind. This really makes it seem less scary.

  46. OH! I wish there was a way to upload directly to pinterest so I can have this information at my fingertip!!

  47. I wish I had found your website/blog before I made jam!! Yesterday I made loquat jam and followed a recipe I found online. It did not call for water bath processing after canning. I ended up putting them in the frig (about 5 hrs after cooking and canning) because now I’m concerned about using them. How long will they last if refrigerated?

  48. I submerged my strawberry jam in the boiling water to process, and noticed bubbles coming out from the jars. I guess I will know in a few minutes if water seeped inside. I hadn’t realized that you can’t reuse the canning snap lids!

    • It is normal to see bubbles escape from the jars when you first put them in the water. It’s actually something you want to see!

      • Thank you!!! Tonight was my first canning experience ever, using your directions, which are SUPERB!!! Placed my jars on old canning rings, which worked, but some of my jars kept tipping over (hope that is ok?)…I just kept standing them back up using tongs.

        I noticed the bubbles also and quickly grabbed them out, tightened, put them back in and still a few bubbles came up to the surface…so glad you answered this question and that it’s a good thing 🙂

  49. I just made watermelon jam for the first time and the recipe said it would yield 10 half pints and I only got 5 half pints and I followed everything exactly like the recipe what could have happened

    • Just remember, when ever you cook before canning or putting in a jar, you product will always cook down. I thought the same thing when I first started canning, but watched a special on making jams and jellies – it will reduce by about a 3rd.

  50. I made mixed berry jam today for the 1st time. I also canned for the 1st time today as well. I surprised myself and everything worked out, all my lids are sealed. Here’s my concern though, do I refrigerator the jam now or can I leave it out. The jam doesn’t seem as thick and this could be a recipe issue. I feel if I put the jam in the frig it will solidify more. Am I worrying to much? Is there anything else I need to do or did I screw up?

    • If you canned the jars, they don’t need to be refrigerated. The canning process makes them shelf stable. And as far as the texture goes, jam often takes a few days to thicken up. Give it some time.

  51. Could you tell me if you have to keep the lid on while the water is boiling, for the water bath? Thank you.

    • You don’t have to, but it does help the pot maintain a rolling boil better, because the heat is more contained.

  52. I canned tomatoes for the first time yesterday and when I woke up today there were air bubbles in the jars… Is that normal… The bubbles sit between the tomatoes and the juice and the jars are sealed.

  53. Hi! I made apricot jam and realized I did not have lids so I put it in the jars and stuck them in the fridge. I would like to water bath them so they are shelf stable but the jam already set up nicely. Will canning them now after it has set ruin the set?

    • It should be okay to can them at this point. You need to empty out the jars, bring the jam to a boil and then refill the jars.

  54. I was canning tomato sauce. When the boiling stopped after the water bath I noticed the water had evaporated and the jars were no longer covered. However the lids popped and sealed. Is it okay?

  55. hi, thank you for this! i am fairly new to canning and definitely needed these basic steps laid out for me. i just finished a batch of pickled cukes, water-bath style. two questions:

    -i totally forgot to tap out air bubbles. problematic?

    -you say to keep the processing time to five minutes because the hot water can soften the pickles. well, i did all the steps, put the jars on the rack, lowered it in, and saw all these air bubbles. i started the timer for 5 mins, then realized you meant start the timer when the water starts boiling again. but it took like another 5 full minutes (or more!) for the water to come back up to a boil. so really i processed them for like 10 mins. how exact does the time have to be? is there any chance of it being really problematic if you don’t process it for long enough? or for too long?


    • As long as the jars sealed well, the air bubbles aren’t an issue. But not removing them can lead to liquid loss.

      And you never start the timer for the processing time until the water returns to a boil. That’s why it’s important to have the water near to the boil when you put the jars in.

  56. When I can tomato juice I get my jars and lids hot in boiling then I pour the juice in the jars and they seal on their own. Is this safe or do I still need to water bath them?

    • It doesn’t need to be processed in a boiling water bath canner to be made safe. It is naturally antibacterial.

  57. I just did A batch of salsa on my glass cook top. I started the ten min required processing time when the water started to boil….but it was not a “full roiling boil” which I couldn’t get to. Is this enough or should I refrigerate it? Thank you!

  58. I have never hot bathed my jams as they are packed hot into hot jars. They all seal fine. But the more I read about jams and everyone seems to hot bath them I’m losing confidence that maybe I’ve been wrong. For the first time this year (out of many years) I had mold on the top of my apricot/pineapple jam. What is your advice.

  59. Hello! Just had my first apple butter and first canning experience… Once I had my jars cooling on the counter I got a little impatient, having not heard any ping’ing of the jars sealing… So I pushed on the tops slightly and they went down… and stayed down. Will me forcing the tops down get in the way of the sealing process? Do I need to reprocess or something? They are not totally cooled yet. Did I totally mess up all of my work?

  60. I’ve just tried Canning/Preserving for the first time. I’m trying Candied Jalapenos. I’m dying to try them out, how long should I wait before I can open one of them.

  61. I did not have enough mustard beans or corn relish to fill the last jar nor did I have a smaller one so I half filled the jar is this ok


    • It is not ideal. There’s no way to vent all of the oxygen out of half filled jars and so they are at increased risk of spoilage.

  62. I didn’t heat the water before putting the pickled mushrooms in the canner. I just put the jars in the canner, added water, waited for it to boil. Then boiled for 20 minutes, which is what the recipe called for. Am I risking disease? Or is this ok? Thank you.

  63. Forgive my ignorance but I’ve followed these steps using a large pot and have removed the jar but the jelly looks runny again. It had started to set after I removed the pot from heat and put them in the jar. Is it that water has got in?

  64. I just started canning this week and as I was reading this post think I may have done something wrong and want to see if I can still eat the food I put up. I made:
    Apples in syrup (20 minute processing time) 3 jars at a time
    Pears in syrup (20 minute processing time) 3 jars at a time
    Pickled grapes (5 minute processing time) 4 jars at a time
    Daikon and carrot pickled mix (10 minute processing time) 4 jars at a time
    Here is what I did. I boiled the jars in my pot followed the recipe for each item and then add my ingredients and put them down in the boiling water. I started my timer and took them out of the water and left them on a towel to cool and seal. I am not sure if the water lost any of the boil by putting the hot jars back in (everything except the daikon and carrot was hot packed), I just set the timer and went off that. Everything sealed properly, but I am wondering if these are good. Do I need to eat them right away now, are they fine if they sealed, should I reprocess them or do I need to throw them all out. Thanjs for any help!

  65. I am brand new to canning- I just want to know, does this same method work for soups? I want to can soup and put them in a cupboard. If I can use this method with soups, can the soups have meat or other perishables in it without being refrigerated?

  66. Hi Marisa I looked back to see if anyone had answered my question #89. I see you had responded to the one after mine, could you take a look and see what to do in my situation. I am new and don’t want to get sick, but I don’t want to throw out my work if it is ok.

  67. I am like Diane, #79, who has never hot bathed her jam. I just got through canning pear preserves and I think they have all sealed, but to be sure could I put the jars in a hot bath? I have never done this before and I was thinking I would need to loosen the lids and put them in the boiling water for 10 minutes. This may not be possible, but I would like to know.

    • If you wanted to process your jars, you’d have to open the jars, reheat the preserves, refill the jars, apply new lids and then process.

      • Thank you for your reply. I am going to reheat my pear preserves and put them in the boiling water bath as you suggested. Do the lids need to be hot when I put them on the jars and how long do I keep the jars in the boiling water? Also, I want my pears to be more amber color so hopefully I have enough juice when I reheat them. Could I add some water without affecting the taste of them?

        • You do as if it was a brand new batch. So hot lids and in the processing pot for the same amount of time as the first round of canning. You could add some water but it may impact the flavor.

  68. I tried water canning last night for the first time, BEFORE I found your website. One of my jars broke inside the pot and the applesauce was in the water. As long as I wash the other jars off do you think they are still safe or does that contaminate them? Thank you for your, more than helpful, site!

  69. I had canned meat and left it in the boiling hot water just over 3 hrs. I was going to leave it for the 5 mins. settling time that everyone recommends before removing the jars from the hot water bath. Unfortunately, I had left them in longer than the 5 mins. When I took them out, the lids were already down (and therefore did not pop after being out in the air cooling). Is everything still good after being in the water after the boiling had stopped and the jars were not removed to cool right away? Thanks!

    • With jams and other sweet preserves, you can eat them immediately. Pickles need some time (at least 2-3 weeks) to improve.

  70. My Jalapeno jelly is not hott ) : I already sealed the jars and everything. Any advice?! Can I take everything out of the jars and re-boil the jelly with spicier peppers like serranos?

  71. HI – my daughter is getting married in August and she wants to give small 64ml jars of preserves as wedding favors. I am getting the jars from Greaves factory in Niagara Falls, ON where they make jam. Do I process the jam the same way as regular mason jars? And for how long would I process them in water? Can I stack the jars on top of each other?


  72. I had to reprocess my jam because of a mistake I made. I emptied the jam contents back into a pot and left it on the stove for a long time – it was hot enough that bubbles were forming along the sides of the pot for a long time, but the jam never came to a hard boil (like it did when I made it the first time). Is this a problem? Does the jam need to come to hard boil when reprocessing? Thanks!

    • The jam never came back to a hard boil? Well, if you were recooking it in order to get a better set, you need that boil in order to cook the water out and get the firmer set. If you’re talking about the water in the processing pot, it also needs to achieve a hard boil in order to fully sterilize your product.

  73. I don’t know how I got as far as I did without this critical piece of information, but I’ve been sterilizing my jars prior to filling them, and not afterwards. I just learned that I need to return them to a hot water bath after they’re filled.

    Yesterday I made pickle, and I didn’t put the jars back in the hot water bath. They’ve been sitting on the counter since last night (the pickle is made with vinegar, so it is high in acid).

    Can I go back and put them in the boiling water bath now or do I have to toss them?

    • You could refrigerate them, but I don’t recommend processing them at this point, because it will seriously compromise the texture.

      • Hi Marisa, thanks for your reply. It’s actually not pickles but a pickle relish, so I don’t think texture is so important?

        • If you’re not concerned with texture, you can certainly process it. However, for best results, you need to open up all the jars, reheat the relish, repack the jars and can with new lids (because chances are that the lids formed some vacuum while they were sealing on the counter and so now the sealing compound is spent), and process according to the recipe’s instructions. If the recipe doesn’t tell you how long to process the relish, ten minutes for pint jars or smaller is a good baseline time.

  74. I have been pressure canning for a couple of years and just got my first nasty steam burn last night. I am currently trying your water bath method right now with some applesauce and I am hopeful for safer results!! Thank you for weeding out the “unnecessary” information and focusing on the more important stuff when it comes to all the steps of the canning process.

    • can you tell me if our pan does not cover the jar all the way with water. Can we put them on their side. Or do they HAVE to be covered with water. We used small jars the first time. Turned out great. Out of small jars. have only larger jars. Don’t want to buy anymore.

      • You need to have a pot deep enough to have the jars be fully upright and submerged. They will not vent properly if processed on their sides.

        • 2 of my 4oz jars of apple butter turned sideways during the boil. Do I need to reboil them? Thanks for your site – it was a huge help for me on this first time canning!

            • Question. I made some pickled green beans and did the hot water bath to seal them. This is also my first time. I took them out to cool and the lid was not sealing. So I opened it for maybe 5 seconds and then closed the lid and it sealed right away. Do you think it’s still safe to continue the process and are okay to eat after a few weeks?

              • If you’ve opened the jar after the processing even for a millisecond you have let all the air back in that the processing forced out.

  75. Hi, I’m hoping you can help. I have been canning jam using two piece lids and occasionally one will come out of the water bath having sucked in a bit of water. Sometimes they seal and sometimes they dont, but obviously the jam is ruined in either case.

    What causes this? I can find a lot of info on jars shooting product into the water bath (siphoning) but in this case it’s just pulling in water, nothing seems to be going out–no food on the rim or in the bath and headspace remains the same, but now with water where some or all the air should be.

    • The only way that the jars could be taking on water is if you’re not tightening the rings tightly enough. Try turning them a bit more.

  76. Thank you for this site! What a help for a new-to-canning cook. I have a canning lid question. I am new to food in jars and made my first batch of raspberry jam yesterday. Because I wasn’t sure how many jars would be filled by the recipe I prepared a couple extra jars and lids which I did not use. The jars I know I can sterilize and use but the lids i’m not sure about. I did heat up the lids in a simmering water bath but never applied them to a jar and never boiled them in a water bath. Can they be reheated and used for my next batch? Thanks in advance.

      • I reuse my used lids all the time. I do throw out any damaged ones after a difficult jar opening but since I discovered you can use lids over and over again I am a little more careful about opening my jars. Reusing your lids is a real money saver too.

            • It is not recommended to use the lids again so the companies that sell them make more money. It”s a scam. As long as you hear the pop the lids are fine to reuse. If the rubber seal on the bottom of the lids are frayed at all then they will have a hard time sealing. When you water bath a canning jar the internal heat causes the air inside to escape. The lid and heat keeps new air from coming in. You create negative pressure, meaning the pressure pushing down on the lids from our atmosphere is much more than the pressure pushing up from inside. That’s what causes the lid to “seal”. At equal pressure the jar lid removes easily when lifted. If the pressure is higher in the jar than the pressure from outside the lid shoots off.

  77. Hi, I have a VERY beginner question. Why do you have to put either a rack, trivet, towel, etc in the bottom of the pot? Will it ruin the jars to have them sitting directly on the bottom of the pot? Thanks in advance!

  78. Thanks for all the great information! Why should you store your sealed jars without the rings? I am assuming this is a very beginner’s question, but never knew this before. Thanks for your answer!


  79. After taking tomatoes out of the hot bath, they have the fruit on the top and about 2 to 3 inches of water at the bottom of the jar.
    Is this the way it is supposed to look?
    It looks like the water has been cooked out of the tomatoes and settled to the bottom.
    Will the recombine, or do I need to do something different?
    Thank you

  80. When I am dill pickles I pack the the jars as full as I can however after processing they seem to have floated up and I have about half an inch of juice at the bottom of the jar. What am I doing wrong?

    • You’re not doing anything wrong. Try using regular mouth jars, as the shoulders of the jars help keep the cucumbers below the brine level.

  81. I have had instances where my pickles are not crisp. In reading online articles it is suggested when this is the problem they have been processed too long. When water bath canning at what point does the processing time begin? Is there a certain temperature to use as a guide?

    • Keeping cucumber pickles crisp is a challenge. The processing time begins once the water returns to a boil. I tend to do cucumber pickles as refrigerator pickles these days to retain crispness.

      • Someone told me this week when I was talking about maybe doing pickles, she told me if I can find a grape leaf to put it in each jar that something in the grape leaf keeps pickles crisp

  82. Hey,

    I’m new to canning and I thought I knew what I was doing and apparently, I might have just messed up my entire batch. I thought that the seal had taken once I could no longer press down on the lid. So, to remedy it I put my jar back into the water bath. Some jars took 3 attempts to get the lid so that I could no longer push down on it. Does this mean I possibly ruined the contents of that jar? I am doing dilly beans and pickles. Thanks

    • The texture of those pickles is probably pretty terrible if you’ve been processing them over and over again. Are you letting them cool for at least 12 hours before reprocessing? You need to let the jars cool completely before testing the seals.

      • Darn. No I didn’t wait. I just put them back in the water. Is the only way to test the seal is by taking off the band and seeing if the metal stays? Otherwise, do I just assume that the seal took until I test it? If it didn’t hold, do I just refrigerate? Thanks so much!

        • You need to let the jars cool fully before testing the seals. They only seal during the cooling process. Once the jars are fully cooled, you remove the bands to test the seals. If the jars didn’t seal, you just pop them into the fridge and use the contents within a month or so.

  83. i never knew you could reprosess the jars that never sealed. About how long do they keep if you don’t get them to seal properly?

  84. I am new to canning and am going to try to avoid asking you if my pickles are safe because I know you can’t tell me, but I do have questions. I grew my own cucumbers and decided to make pickles (both garlic dill and bread and butter) based on recipes from your book ‘Food In Jars’. I used Ball pint jars and a regular stock pot with jar rings as my rack. I used Bragg’s apple cider vinegar and added raw garlic and fresh dill to the first batch and raw bell pepper and onion to the second. I processed them both the same, by pouring the boiling liquid (50/50 water and vin. + sugar added to the bread and butter pickle solution) into the jars on top of the raw vegetables. Some how I missed the part in your recipe about boiling the veg for the bread and butter pickles. I also did the same processing time for all- 5 min. boil. Some of the jars sealed right away, some took a while and a few still had a bump in the center of the lid. When I pushed the bump in, it clicked and did not pop back. I removed the rings 24hrs later and they passed the lid test. Some jars have contents completely covered with liquid while a few seem a bit low. Now, I know you can’t tell me if they are safe or not, but I am getting more worried with every article I read about botulism. Is it true that you can’t always see/smell if something is wrong and you’re better off trashing everything if you have any doubt?! Thanks so much for your time, and the great book/blog. I really would like to continue to can, but the fear might be getting the best of me.

    • Ugh! I’m sorry, I just read a post of yours saying that botulism will not form in pickles due to the acid! Still, any words of advice you may have for me personally would be greatly appreciated!

    • Botulism cannot grow in high acid environments. You’ve submerged all those low acid vegetables in a high acid environment, so there’s no risk of botulism in this case. However, you should really stick with the recipes as written until you better understand what makes a recipe safe or not safe.

  85. Help! I’m making jam for my wedding favors, and I’m using 2 oz food grade jars. The lids are one piece — no ring, no seal-lid. I’m having trouble getting them to seal… or else I can’t tell if they’re sealed. The lids don’t have mu ch give when I tested one on a jar right out of the box. I made sure my rims were wiped clean. Is it possible the lids weren’t hot enough?

    • Do the lids look even a little bit concave? If so, then they’re probably sealed. Beyond that, I really can’t help here.

  86. I am relatively new to canning, other than pickles. I am making jam and wondering if I can wait until the end if the day to actually do the canning–the contents of the jars will have cooled before I put them in the water bath. Is that okay? Thanks!!

  87. I’ve been canning for a few years, and have never done the dumb thing I did today. I had just put a batch of candied jalapenos in their jars and lowered them into their water bath when I had company show up. We went into another part of the house after the water came to a boil and I started to set my timer, got distracted and forgot about the timer and the peppers until company left – an hour later! I can’t tell just by looking at the peppers in the jar, but do you think I just ruined three pounds of beautiful, home grown jalapenos or do you think they will survive 50 extra minutes of a boiling water bath? Are there any health concerns with over processing like this? Or is the biggest worry mushy peppers?

    Thanks, love your site!

  88. I followed your canning method to can my apricot jam. I wasn’t around to hear the ‘ping’ after I removed the jars from the boiled water, but when I came back a few hours later, they had all depressed/sealed! *Thumbs-up* Thanks for writing this guide! I also mentioned this blog article in my post about apricot jam here:

    Can’t wait to can something else!

  89. My water in the pot boiled dry and my jars are stuck in the pot. What can I do to get them out? I made catsup.

  90. I have a question. I am new to canning. And I thought cover the jars with the 1 to 2 inches of water meant the bottom of jar not literally over the top. Are my items that I have canned ruined ?

  91. New to canning. Want to can a ginger-garlic sauce (also has other ingredients). Which method is the best – boiling water bath, pressure canner or some other method? Thanks!

    • If the acid levels have not been checked, it will probably need to be pressure canned. The best approach is to find some similar recipes and see what the recommended technique is.

  92. Hi, I just started canning jam this summer and your post has been very helpful!! However today when I was removing a jar it slipped a couple times (I have been using tongs because I am at a remote cabin for the summer and cannot get to a shop). When I finally pulled it out of the water and put in on the towel, it made a sputtering sound like air or water was escaping from under the rim. There was some jam around the rim of the jar that wasn’t there before placing it in the bath. I was heating up a second jar ready to transfer the jam and try again when I heard it pop! Do you know if it has been safely sealed? Or should I put this jar in the fridge?

    • That sputtering sound is entirely normal for a jar freshly removed from the canner. As long as it sealed, it is fine.

  93. Hello! This information on your site is very helpful but I do have a question that I cannot seem to find an answer to anywhere on the Internet and am hoping you can help!!

    I have been canning for a couple years now and never have any problems. Today one of my jar of tomato sauce broke while in the water bath. Of course I freaked out and got all the jars out, emptied the water and replaced with new water. Now my questions is.. The jars were only in for about 5-8 minutes and they seem to have sealed while I was waiting for the water to come up to temp. Do I reprocess the good jars since they were not in the water bath for the required time or do I let them be since they did seal? I don’t want to break anymore jars or ruin anymore sauce.

    • So sorry to hear that your jar broke. It just happens sometimes. They other jars still need the full amount of time in the boiling water bath. The processing time isn’t just about getting a good seal, but also about ensuring that you’ve killed off any bacteria present.

      • What happenes if the jar breaks (crushed tomatoes) but you did not notice it until the timer went off…. are the other jars OK or do you need to toss them? I think they should be OK, as I think that stuff may siphon out of jars at times, but I am not sure stuff gets sucked in… I hope you say it is OK as they were lovely heirlooms from my garden…

  94. What happens if you forget about the cans you put in the boiling water. Are the contents still ok. In my case I put my pickles in at just under a boil and forgot about them for about 40 minutes.

    • Your pickles are probably going to be a little bit soggy after all that time in the canner. They won’t be unsafe, but they might not taste great.

  95. One: there was one jar I didn’t prepare the canning method that just sealed itself; all I did was poor hot tomato sauce in it because I was gonna use that immediately. What happened?

    Two I took the lid off to because I the seal would pop up and down; after I sealed the fastening lid back on, the seal flattened(it didn’t pop anymore).

    Three: I didn’t use citric acid with plum tomatoes. Is that bad???

    Four:how do you reprocess if you didn’t achieve a seal the first time?
    I am doing tomato sauces.


    • 1. Jars can seal whether or not you do the processing step. However, the processing step sterilizes the jars and the contents, and so without it, the contents may not last long.

      2. I don’t totally understand the problem.

      3. Yes. You need to use citric acid or lemon juice.

      4. You’ll need to open up the jars, reheat the sauce, refill the jars, and process again using new lids.

  96. Good Day Marisa
    I have made jams in the past and not done the hot water baths after making the jam and I have heard that pop sound of the lids sealing. What is the difference in doing the hot water baths or not?
    Also I have found some small jam jars that have the lids as one piece. Are they as effective as the ones with the 2 piece lids? I am thinking that they should be as long as they seal like the others?

    • The boiling water bath helps create a stronger seal than you get without it, and it provides a sterilization step that enables the jam to last longer.

  97. I have used this method for 2 years..when I started canning. I always have success, in fact, I just put my jars in the water bath! I just make sure I keep the jars covered with boiling water. I love hearing those pings.

  98. Great article! I just water bathed for the first time today and didn’t know how to tell if they jars are actually sealed or not. Love that you said you’d hear them ping, etc. That’s helped alot. They are on the counter and I’ll listen!!! Thanks!

  99. I am going to try to can applesauce tomorrow, I have never canned in my life so I was just wondering when we take jars out of water and drain them we don’t dry them down before we fill them?

    • Typically the jars are hot enough when they come out of the water that they dry almost immediately. No need to dry them.

  100. Thank you SO much for this tutorial. You took out all the scary what-ifs! You made it look so easy! I finally canned something today (homemade mustard) and was relieved to hear the lids popping as it cooled. Can’t wait to can some jam!

    Thank you!

  101. I have a question. I made three jars of apple butter two days ago I didn’t know until I read here that the water had to be at a rolling boil before starting the timer but it come to a rolling boil for at least 8 mins an as it was my first canning I left them in longer than required they didn’t ping at any time but they do seem to be sealed should I trash them since it didn’t do a rolling boil for correct amount of time.

    • They are probably okay. Because they didn’t get the full amount of recommended heat exposure, they may not last as long as other jars. If they do go bad, they’ll either start to mold or ferment, and you’ll see that on the surface of the jar when you open it. If that happens, just don’t eat it.

  102. Hi! This article was super helpful, and it looks like you’re great about actually answering people’s questions, so I’m hoping you can help me. I made fig jam yesterday, and a thin layer of water leaked INTO a few of the jars. I noticed someone else asked about this back in April, and you said they probably didn’t tighten the lids enough (good to know for future!), but my question is about whether this actually ruins the jam.

    As of this morning, all jars are fully sealed, seals hold when shaken upside down, and the leaked water actually looks like it’s been absorbed into the jam so it isn’t visible any more. Since the jars were all processed at 10-12 minutes at a full boil, I’m hoping the water that entered the jars is sterile, and the jam is still safe to eat (albeit slightly thinner). What do you think? I also tasted the one fridge-destined jar that didn’t seal properly and also got some water leaked in, and the water didn’t seem to affect the taste (I hadn’t read your article before, so there was no vinegar in the water). I’m really hoping they’re ok, because I have 30 jars and can’t tell which ones leaked now that they’ve absorbed the water!

    Thanks so much!

    • Dani, chances are good that water didn’t actually leak into your jars. It was probably a bit of water condensing out of the jam. However, even if it was water, it was sterile water so the jam is entirely safe.

  103. Hi, I have a question that I have not been able to find the answer to. If I am making a batch of pint and half pint jelly and I have 20 jars total in one batch. What would be the process for the water bath? What I mean is can the jars that won’t fit in the first water bath sit on the counter ready until the first batch is complete, or would that have the jars getting too cool? I am trying to determine if successive batches can be done. Thank you.

    • You can do successive batches. Do your best to keep the waiting jars warm and then increase the processing time by five minutes to ensure that you get sufficient heat to kill any present micro-organisms.

  104. I was wondering if when preparing applesauce or other food like jelly. If you get jars ready for boiling bath and they end up sealing before your process in boiling water should you still process the required time?

  105. Hi, your site makes for very interesting reading. I have just steamed grapes from my garden and have approx. 8 litres of juice. I would like to can some of this but my pressure canner does not mention any time at all for canning juice. Any advice would be appreciated. Also what would be the shelf life. Thanks in advance

  106. Marisa, I just wanted to thank you for this post. I am new to canning and though I did can tomatoes once before with help, I was very nervous about doing it again – this time alone! When I began my research I found this site, and answers to every question that I had – all in one place. You are very patient to answer everyone’s questions very simply and to the point. And thanks to this, it gave me so much more confidence on my big day! Thank you SO VERY MUCH!!!

  107. I just made a batch of ginger pear preserves, the recipe said I should end up with 7 jars of finished product.. I only ends up with three. And the texture seems like caramel, not jammy. I reviewed my recipe and realized I boiled my ingredients on high instead of medium, could that have caused this reduction in volume? And texture change?

  108. I just canned my first batch of tomatoes. While they were processing I was washing up the kitchen and never checked on my water level in the pot. There was 1″-2″ of water covering the jars when I started it but when the timer went off (40 min) the water was boiling just below the top of the lids. I added enough water to cover the jars another inch and put the timer on for 10 more minutes to make myself feel better about it all but I’m still nervous about it being safe. Ever experienced this before? Suggestions? Are my tomatoes safe to put on the shelf and eat later?

  109. Is my salsa ok if I didn’t completely cover the iars in water for the boiling water bath? The water was almost to the top of the jars. All my jars sealed.
    Thank you!

  110. Thank you for the informative website. Short and sweet answers! My only question is, a month ago, in a hurry. did not do all i should for the pear preserves..They look kinda runny. Can i take them out of jars, add the surejell and reprocess the whole thing as if canning new preserves?

  111. Is it safe to reuse jars? I have been hoarding classico jars, my whole family laughs because they just sit in my cupboard. So i thought why not use them for canning?

  112. Hi Marisa,

    First time canner tonight – my roommate and I made two jars of pickled onion. We prepped everything before we discovered that our pot was just barely tall enough. Instead of the recommended one inch we had perhaps 1 cm of water over the lids. The jars were able to sealed, but do you think the height of the water compromised the safety of the onions? Thanks in advance.

  113. Hi Marisa! It’s so nice of you to give time in answering everyone’s concern in canning. I would be grateful if you could help me out. I’ve transferred raw, wild honey in 250ml glass jars and I was wondering if it should be sealed using water bath or not since I have heard others say that honey need not be sealed too tight as it requires a bit of air to breath. I didn’t understand what they meant. Hope to get a response from you. Thanks !

    • Frances, unfortunately I’m not an expert in honey storage. However, in my experience, honey doesn’t typically require anything beyond clean jars and a tight-fitting lid.

  114. If my jars sealed themselves before the water bath process do I still need to water bathe them or refrigerate them? Or is the seal fine and it can be stored? ( all food inside is fully cooked) .

    • Even if the jars sealed while they were waiting to go into the boiling water bath, you should have still processed them. If you didn’t do it while the jars were still hot, it’s best to refrigerate them.

    • Yes. The easiest way to do it is to perch a flat, round rack on top of the first layer of jars. However, if you don’t have one, you can carefully set the jars on top of the first layer. Just make sure that all the jars are fully submerged.

  115. What a coincidence I’m new to canning! ?(Lol) but I have a few questions on what would not be safe to can. I’m mailing a package from US to the UK. It would take about 2 weeks for them to receive my package. I have been reading and noticed that there are a bit of nay to “Cake in the Jar recip” although I want to put brownie squares in the jars and seal it, would it still be safe?
    Also would it be safe to put homemade rice crispies (the cereal and marshmallows), and chocolates?
    Sorry for the long comment! Thanks!

  116. I didn’t know about this step, totally new to canning. 3 of my jars, the tops I can push up and down, the rest of them I can’t. I’m assuming those are the ones that are sealed? Can I do this water bath after the fact, like 3 days later? It’s fruit preserves. Or should I open them, put the preserves in a pan and heat it up to boiling again and do it the right way?

    • If the tops of the jars wiggle, it means that they did not seal. If you want them to be shelf stable, you need to open up the jars, reheat the contents, warm the jars, and process them correctly.

  117. I just did my first canning project, and it was so much fun. The recipe I made filled more jars than I could process at once, and this is where I have a question. Last time, I boiled the jars, pulled them out, filled them with the hot jelly, put lids on, rings on, and put them back in the pot. Once it came to a boil, I let it go for 10 minutes, turned it off and let it sit for 5, and then took the jars out. Then, I put more jars into boil, then reheated the rest of the jelly to a boil, then completed the rest of the jars.

    I want to make more, but here’s my question, can I fill more jars than I can process at once, and let some sit for 15-20 minutes while the first batch boils? Or do I need to put them in to process immediately after I fill them, and fill them in two stages the way I did the first time?

  118. I have been giving my sealed jars a hot bath to sterilize after filling them with marmalade. However in many of them water has seeped in. Is this normal? How do I totally prevent this?

    • The water isn’t seeping it. It’s a little bit of water that has separated out from the marmalade. It should integrate back into the product within a few days.

  119. Used your recipe and steps for my first tomatoes salsa canning adventure. It worked like a charm and was so much fun. Question: after sealed jars cool, is it OK that the rings are loose?

  120. So.. I’ve always had this question about the boiling water bath. I like to make hot sauce and many recipes call for boiling the ingredients for a minimum of 20 minutes. Is it safe to skip that step and go straight from blender to canning if I leave the jars in the boiling water bath for 20 minutes?

  121. Are the rings of the small jars slightly tough the outside of the pot to help them stay balanced? I have some trouble with jars tipping over. Or is that my rack or too strong of a boil?

    • It could be that the holes in your rack are too big. Typically when I do a boiling water bath process, I choose a pot small enough so that jars just fit, so that they’ll easily stay upright. It’s okay if the jars touch one another. You can also always use a couple empty jars to fill the space if you don’t have enough full jars.

  122. I made a large batch of clam chowder and used a water bath canning method to can the leftovers. Is this going to be safe to eat? If not, can I freeze clam chowder?

    • Nope. It’s never safe to use a water bath to preserve low acid foods like chowder. There’s no amount of time during which this could be a safe way to preserve that chowder. I would recommend that you throw it away.

  123. Hi! Looking forward to canning fresh cukes this summer into garlic pickles. Thanks for all the info. Question: you mention a dish towel can be used for the rack in the processing pan. Would a white cotton wash cloth be acceptable to use as the rack? Thanks so much!

  124. What would happen if I left the water boiling in the canner for more than the recommended 10 minutes? Or if I left the jars in the water more than 5 minutes after removing the cover?

    • It’s going to be the end of the world. However, longer times in the canner can impact the texture of pickles.

  125. I made peach jam in pint size jars. They didn’t completely set. The jam is thick but there’s still movement in the jars. Is this okay or should i do another water bath. How long do you need for a water bath using pint size jars?

    • Set doesn’t typically have anything to do with the boiling water bath process. Typically, jams packed in pints are processed for 10 minutes. If you live more than 1,000 feet in elevation, you need to increase your processing time.

      • I made 24 jars of blackberry jam yesterday without processing them in a water bath. All jars have sealed, but I am concerned that I did not process in the water bath. Do I have to empty all jars, wash and heat the jars, reheat the jam/contents back to boiling and then but the jam back in the hot jars with new lids? Or, can I just put the sealed jars of jam in a water bath for 10 minutes?

  126. I made some pickles today with the canning process that my grandmother uses. She packs the sliced cucumbers in the jar, then adds the boiling brine, making sure there are no air bubbles. The jars were sterilized in the dishwasher, and the lids and rings were in a pot of boiling, then simmering water. The lids and rings were put on immediately after wiping down the top of the jar, one at a time. They have all sealed. She said that she has never used a water bath with this process, and as long as they are sealed they are okay. Can I go back and do a water bath if they are already sealed, if it’s within 24 hours of canning them? Are they not considered safe to eat with the process I described?

    • Once they have sealed, you cannot go back and process the jars. The technique you used is not the recommended one, but as pickles are high in acid, if they go bad, the worst that will happen is that they will get moldy or funky. You won’t have any truly dangerous spoilage.

  127. I made jams from your “Preserving by the Pint” book yesterday (which is amazing BTW! LOVE 2 jar recipes ♡). I realized as I was falling asleep that I forgot to bubble the jams though. I’ve done them all in 125 ml jars and they all have good seals with proper heads pace, but there are definitely small bubbles throughout the jars. Wondering how concerned I should be…thoughts?

    • No need to be at all concerned. We bubble jars more to help prevent siphoning during the canning process. As long as the seals are good and you did the canning process for the proper amount of time, all is well.

  128. Why do you need to cover the jars with water? If you used only an inch or two of water, wouldn’t the steam of the boiling water be able do get the job done?

  129. I made some chopped tomatoes yesterday and was unfortunately using the same pot for cooking the tomatoes down AND processing afterwards (I won’t be doing this again next time). I realized after reading some previous comments that the jars/product still being hot when they go into the water bath is important because otherwise they may not be processed long enough. I had some pints that were sitting out for maybe 60-90 minutes as I canned in batches. Fortunately, it’s been unbelievably hot outside and I didn’t notice them cooling down much. Are these still ok? Will it shorten the shelf life? I processed for the recommended 35 minutes and always wait until the water’s really boiling to start the timer. Now I know for next time!

  130. I just don’t understand. I have been making homemade jam for 50 years, the way my Mother made it while I was growing up. The jams were never water bathed, and we have never had a problem. She did water bath her syrup packed fruits however.

    All of a sudden several years ago, the recommendation to water bath jams came out. I don’t understand why it worked for so long without the bath and now it’s almost mandatory to water bath.

    What has changed?

    • The recommendation to water bath jams is more than 30 years old. Studies found that it better prevented the occurrence of mold and fermentation. What’s more, modern recipes are lower in sugar. Any reduction in sugar raises the chances of spoilage. A boiling water bath canning process helps prevent that.

  131. I made some jelly and proabbly boiled it too long as it was setting soon after adding to the hot jars, and now that they are cool, it is VERY firm. Is there anyway to reprocess theses, maybe adding water, boiling and then recanning or is that it for that batch?

  132. Also, how can I ensure a good seal. About 25 percent of my jars have play in the lid when cooled. And my last question, actually 2. I remember instructions to turn the jars upside down for about 10 minutes, then right them to finish cooling, but I don’t see that anymore as part of the instructions. I also remember to finger tighten the rings and then fully tighten at some point, but I also don’t see those instructions anymore. Is this all necessary?

    • You don’t need to invert the jars or tighten the rings. As far as the seal failures go, do this. Once the processing time is up, turn off the heat and remove the lid from the canner. Let the jars sit in the canner for an additional ten minutes. The extra heat will help encourage a better seal.

  133. Hello,
    I’ve been making a lot of cucumber pickles lately. When I process the jars, I haven’t been fully covering the jars in boiling water — the water typically only goes about halfway up the jars. The idea is to maintain a crisper pickle. The jars have fully sealed, based on the state of the lid. Is this still safe, or is there a reason to cover the jars fully?

    • The reason to cover the jars fully is that water transmits heat better than air. So by only submerging your jars halfway, you’re not getting a full heat penetration to the center of the jar and your chances of later spoilage increases. I’d suggest you look into low temperature pasteurization for your pickles. It’s an alternative method of processing that helps maintain crispness.

  134. Hello I am new to canning. I used a tamale pot for by water bath. My jars are sealing wonderfully but there is a white film on the jars and lids. I’m thinking it has to do with my water. Was thinking of wiping them off with a vinegar solution after they are cooled for 24hrs. Can I add anything to the boiling water bath the next time to avoid this film?

    • That while film is minerals from your water. Add some vinegar to the pot (I mention this in the post above) to help prevent that mineral depositing.

  135. my grandmother canned every thing using the water bath method. pressure canners didnt exist for consumers. we never got sick eating her canned vegetables. so why cant i do the same?

    • Because we know more about the science of food preservation than we did in your grandmother’s era. People got sick and died far more often in the past from contaminated food than they do now. Botulism is something you really don’t want to mess around with.

  136. Hi, please be so kind as to let me know if it is alright to recycle jam jars for crab apple butter.
    The lids do not have rings and I am not sure how that will impact.
    Thank you so much.

      • I interpreted her question to mean – can she reuse commercial jam jars and lids to process and store her homemade crab apple butter?

  137. While doing choke cherries in a hot water bath, the lids start to pop before the processing even begins. I go ahead and process them anyway. Will this impact the jelly?

  138. Hi! Great article 🙂 I’m going to try canning for the first time and I’m confused by this:

    “Once the jars are cool enough to handle, remove the rings and test the seals by holding onto the edges of the lids and lifting up an inch or two. If the lids hold fast, the seals are good.”

    If I’m lifting up the lids and inch or two, how are they holding fast? Wouldn’t that be removing the lids? I know I’m missing something here… I just don’t understand.

    Thanks so much!

    • If you’ve done your processing step well, the lid should be so firmly sealed to the jar that when you hold on to the lid, the jar comes with it. You’re testing to ensure that the seal holds fast.

  139. I lent my canning supplies to a friend and didn’t check to see if everything was returned before starting a batch of salsa for canning. The jar lifters aren’t among the returned supplies and I’m not confident enough or daring enough to try to lift a processed jar out of hot water with anything else. A test run with empty jars verified that. So, until I can get the lifters back in a day or so, can I refrigerate the cooked salsa (for safety) and then reheat before canning? I’m thinking I’d need at least 5 minutes of a full boil before filling the jars and/or verifying with a digital thermometer the reheated salsa reaches the same temperature?

    • Whenever you heat, cool, and again heat tomatoes, you break up their emulsion and end up with a product that separates. As long as you’re okay with that, you can proceed as you’ve described.

  140. This is my first time canning, and I am in the process of making pickles. i followed the recipe I was creating with soak times etc, filled my jars with the pickle mixture, and ran out of time to complete the processing via water bath. I put my jars, with lids finger tight, in the fridge. What steps do you recommend I take to finish processing/ sealing in a water bath?

  141. we are new to canning. we just processed a batch of tomato salsa for 40 minutes, as per the recipe. When the time was up and the lid was lifted, we found that the water level had gone down just below the level of the jar tops, even though we had the water level about 2 inches above when we started.
    Will the salsa be safe if the lids seal properly?

      • We made peaches pears and applesauce and processed for the recommended time but didn’t have the jars fully immersed. The water was only about half way up. Will these products be safe to eat or is there a re-process we should be doing

        • It’s really not ideal. However, because these are all high acid products, if they do spoil, it will be obvious. I’d probably leave them as it and then follow proper procedures in the future.

  142. Thank you for all your helpful information. I too have a question. I live at 6,000 ft so there is quite an increase in processing time. That unfortunately is causing my fruit to turn very mushy. Any way to prevent that? Apples or plums without texture are not very appealing. Also, when can you safely start the processing timer? I have been calling the water boiling when I begin to see bubbles. If I have to wait until I see a vigorous boil, that’s even more processing time and worse mush.
    In the past I experimented by adding lots of lemon juice to apples and only processing half the recommended time. Texture was great and the apples kept just fine. What am I risking with this method and how would I know if they are not safe to eat? Thanks for your help

  143. Made pickles exactly like the recipe. It is equal parts water and vinegar, salt, sugar, dill. My question is when I did the water bath the water only came up to the neck of the jar, didn’t cover. It was in the water bath for 20 minutes but I’m wondering if they are safe since they were not completely submerged. My jars all sealed.

  144. I canned some pickles and when I put them in the hot water bath after a few minutes they kind of buckled. The are sealed but the lid is not smooth .. How can I fix this ?

    • That buckling is an indication that you overtightened your rings and the air couldn’t escape naturally. There’s no way to fix it beyond removing the lids, applying new ones, and reprocessing. However, if the seals are good, you can just leave them as-is and use this as a lesson for next time. Only tighten the rings as tightly as is possible with the tips of your fingers.

  145. just did my first canning project and downloaded my how to guide from pins , which was great , it all went well , but now im reading that i should have completely submerged my containers in boiling water to process them , i did not do this, i had the boiling water to half way up my jars . the jars seem to have sealed but are they safe ??

  146. I just made a batch of applesauce and left the recommended headspace. The jars all have a good seal but it looks like the applesauce touched the lids. As this is for our granddaughter, I need to be 100% sure the applesauce will be fine.

    Has this happened to you? Any help is appreciated.

  147. Help!
    My stovetop died just as I put the last jar of whole tomatoes in the hot water. Water was on the verge of boiling but didn’t get the chance to actually boil. I won’t have a way to process them until tomorrow (fingers crossed). It’s only been a few hours. Can I reprocess, do I make sauce and freeze or am I doomed to pitch 30 pounds of tomatoes?

  148. I have just this very minute put 3 quarts of pasta sauce in boiling water.
    The recipe was for pints. I doubled the lemon juice. Now I’m wondering if the 25 min. hot water bath is sufficient. Any opinions?

  149. I am trying to send some dilly beans to my husband who is deployed in Rota Spain, will they be safe to eat after shipping?

  150. hi, once you open the jar how much time do you have to consume it? i’m thinking of making hot chili sauce and canning it, but I don’t know how long will it hold up safely once I open a can. I imagine maybe a month if I keep it refrigerated? thank you

      • I made fig preserves for the first time last night. I added lemon juice and jalapeño. Tuwords the end of the cooking time I added more jalapeños cooked it on medium about another 10 minutes. I did not do a water bath. All the lids sealed. Should I still do a water bath and if so can I still do it or is it to late? Thank you for your help.

    • It is better to do it the same day as you made it because it needs to go into the jars hot. If you cool it and then heat it again for canning, you can ruin the set.

      • if you do cool it first because you forget to do the water bath, and you stick them in when you remember, (5 hours later) will they be ok? if they are runny after that, will they gel back again or are they ruined? thank you!

  151. I’m new to canning and I’m a little lost, after the jam is put in the jars and you place the lid and then finger tight the ring you boil the jars again, after they cooled you remove the ring and check the seal… you then say that the jars should be stored without the rings. Are you not suppose to screw the ring back on? I would like to ship my jam and I’m lost

    • Typically you leave the rings off for storage. If you’re shipping your jars, it’s fine to replace the rings.

  152. If a person wants to hwb peaches but doesn’t want the peaches really soft, would 10 minutes be long enough to hot water boil? My hubby and I do not like mushy canned peaches.

    • That is not ideal. It’s better to prep the fruit, sugar it, and put it in the fridge at that point. Ideally you want to cook and can your jam on the same day for best set and consistency.

  153. I canned salsa yesterday eve. Out of 12 pints 7 did not seal. I think it’s poss my water bath was not simmering high enough. I read to repeat the process so I put them back in a water bath this morning. Then I read further that you should unjar and start from scratch. What should I do?

  154. I am new to canning. I have started a little tomato crop in my back yard. I am wanting to can them but I am not sure how long they will need to be processed in the water bath. Any advice would be greatly appreciated. I have been told by some people that you don’t need to boil the jars, but I am not sure.

  155. when canning pickles what is the fill line for the liquid? do you fill it completely or stop at the threading on the jar? i think we put in to much liquid because the lids popped up.

    • You leave about 1/2 inch of headspace, typically. And the lids will be popped up when you take the jars out of the water, but they should pop down again as the jars cool.

    • You might have over tightened the jars. You might have overfilled them. There might have been something on the rim of the jar that prevented a good seal from forming. It is hard to diagnosis the reason a jar didn’t seal from far away. It happens to all of us. Just put that jar in the fridge and eat it within a month or so.

  156. One of my jars broke(the bottom fell out, as I was putting it into the hot water bath. I continued to process the other jars in that water which had the pickle juice in it. Will that affect the pickles in the other jars?

    • You might end up with finished jars that smell faintly of vinegar and spices, but beyond that, no harm is done.

  157. I went by your steps. I was canning quart jars, This was my first time. I got towards the end the steps putting the completed jar in the canning pot & just with in a few seconds one of them just broke inside the canning pot, the bottom of the jar came completely off & also broke around the middle of jar, what do I do next time?

    • If you dont have a tray, towel, trivet or collection of old jars sitting on the bottom of your pot to keep your jars off the bottom or direct source of heat then your jars might break off at the bottom. Another reason could be your jar had an unseen crack or chip in it already or you used a jar not made for canning. Hope this helps.

  158. I am new to water canning. I made blueberry jam, put in jars (sterilized, etc.) and put in water bath. I didn’t have anything to put at the bottom of the pot. I tried a towel but it kept floating up and tipping over the jars. So, I just took the towel out and boiled away. I added additional time for boiling and the jars “popped” and appear sealed. Why do you need a trivet or towel or something on the bottom of the pot? Is it to help keep the jars from breaking and I just got lucky? I just want to be sure that these will be safe to eat later. (I can buy a trivet for the future). Thank you.

    • The trivet is there to protect the jars from the direct heat of the stove, to allow water to better circulate around the jars, and to act as padding to help prevent breakage. Your jars are safe, but you got lucky.

  159. I would like to can spaghetti sauce but I don’t have a canner.Can I use a large pot with a wet towel in the bottom or can you suggest something else.

    • Please go back and read this blog post. You’ll find that I expressly answer the question you’re asking within the body of the text.

  160. After you put the filled jars into the canner pot and bring it to a boil, do you put the lid on the pot or leave it off so you can see how it’s boiling?

  161. My husband made jalapeno chili sauce while I was away, and did not put the jars through the water bath that I would normally have done. It has been about 10 days. Is it too late to now complete that step?

    Thanks for any insight you can provide.

    • Once you ascertain that the sauce is still good, you’d need to open up the jars, reheat the sauce and can it like you normally would.

  162. My jars of salsa pinged and sealed while still in the water bath, after I took the lid off and turned off the heat. Is this okay??

    • That’s fine. Though often that’s a sign that they’re not fully submerged in the water. And ideally they will be fully submerged.

  163. I am new to canning and I was wondering a couple things. Firstly, how long do pickled beets need to be in the hot water bath (500mL jars if that matters)? Secondly, what do you do if the lids do no seal after the hot water bath?

  164. First time canning tomatoes today. And I’m just not quite sure I got it “right”. Should i have all my tomatoes ready to go and then start the sterilizing, etc? I ask because I was roasting my tomatoes in batches and ended up with some sterilized jars that had cooled by the time my tomatoes were ready to be put in the jar. Also, when I removed the filled jars from the water bath, some were boiling inside. Is that okay? Thank you in advance.

    • Both the jars and the tomatoes should be hot. Fill the hot jars with the hot tomatoes and put them into a hot (but not boiling) water bath.

      • As I’m reading all this great info I came across this. I just put my bottles in an already boiling water bath? Is that a big deal?

  165. Canning is overwhelming!
    If I wanted to try canning tomatoes (I’ve never canned anything in my life!), would I cook the tomatoes first so the skin comes off and then sanitize jars? And what about green beans?

  166. Peaces initWhy does the water in my canner, after water bathing peaches, have the color of the peaches in it?

  167. I my boiling bath and boiled it for 35 minutes when I pulled thejars out of the water My Salsa had moved all the way to the top of the jar I had about an inch open space at the bottom what did I do wrong

  168. Made pickles and didn’t have water covering. It was almost to the top. They did pop after coming out . Is that ok? What happens if you accidental push the top and it pops and stays?

  169. THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR THIS VERY PRECISE AND COMPLETELY UNDERSTANDABLE TUTORIAL!!! I can’t wait to get started! I just decided I wanted to begin canning my own preserves and such as I seem to spend a fortune on them at boutiques and craft bazaars – I looked up canning basics on pinterest and the pin for this one just jumped out at me and after reading it I need look no further! Thanks again!

  170. Hi. I am new to making jam and wondered if I messed up. The lids were still wet on the inside when I put them on (I didn’t dry them). Sealed my jams, they jelled and look great. I removed the bands to be sure it was dry under there and you can see water drops on bottoms of lids inside jars. Will these be safe to store/eat? Thank you in advance.

    • They’re fine. It’s not a big deal if the lids are wet and having some condensation under the lids is entirely normal.

  171. Question ? I have done Hot water Bath in the past but do not remember why it is important to make sure the water in canner is 1 or 2 inches over the Jars ? We just canned 120 Qts of Tomatoes and all of them seal very nice. But I only fill the canner to the neck of the Jars with water to Boil. Mom says that they will be ok but don’t do that again, do I have any worries. ?

    • Because you need the heat of the water to penetrate fully and that is best done with fully submerged jars. There is a slightly higher risk of spoilage with unsubmerged jars.

  172. This is a great article for us beginners!!! It all sounds so easy until you actually do it. I can’t wait to taste these fresh peaches in the middle of the winter. I live in Michigan….

  173. If you are not sure everything went properly can you take the peaches out of the jars and freeze them?
    Is there anyway to “save ” the fruit form going bad. Guess I am just nervous that I did things proper. My jars are sealed and tight,and were processed in a water bath. Thks

  174. Hi Marisa!
    I have canned your tomato jam, one of the jars looks like there was some leakage. It was sticky around the rim. When I lift the jar by the lid, the seal is good. Is this safe to keep on the shelf?

  175. Hi so I’ve tried the water bath. and yet my jars still wont seal!!! I make my apple butter than I heat up the jars and the caps took one out at a time and than filled them up, than I put the lids on and the rings than I stuck them back in the hot water on the stove for 20 minutes and than I took them out and I checked on them the next day and still wouldn’t seal. but I took one of the jars an stuck it in the fridge and it sealed it. What am I doing wrong?? I used a noodle pan cover the jars to sterilize them. and a sauce pan for the lids and rings. please help!!!!!

  176. If my product isn’t heated before filling the jar, how long does it have to boiling after the seal is placed on?

  177. New to canning and want to pickle cauliflower and green beans. A friend told me she doesn’t hot water bath. Is this safe? How can I tell when water is boiling when the lid is on? Any good recipes for both of these food items?

    • You need to use a water bath for pickles. And you tell that the water is boiling because steam will be coming out of the pot. As far as recipes go, check out the recipe index on this page.

    • It’s not safe to do anything without some kind of processing step. High acid foods require a water bath canner and low acid foods require a pressure canner.

  178. I’ve heard some people say you have to put a lid on the pot while it’s boiling to ensure that it stays hot enough but I didn’t see you mention a lid. Do I need a lid?

    • Honestly, it doesn’t really matter. I typically put a lid on the pot to help maintain the boil, but it’s such a small detail that I figured I’d leave it up to the individual user.

  179. I am making a Large batch of spaghetti sauce, is it ok to fill and lid my jars while I wait for the other batch to finish processing??

  180. Help! I’m new at canning I followed the directions for water bath! I filled applesauce in jars! My water wouldn’t’t boil! After hours of waiting I took bottles out! So I believe it’s my burner! I’m thinking applesauce is not good! Oh……one of my jars popped! Please advise me! Thanks Donna

  181. My jelly that was put through the water bath for longer that the recipe called for did not jell. Some from the same batch that was not put through the water bath process did jell. Did the longer time in the water bath cause this?

    • Typically the water bath does not impact the finished set. I don’t believe it’s the reason your jam isn’t setting as well.

  182. Hi. I have made jam quite a bit in the last few years, only using single lids, and not processing them after. After reading more about processing, I bought a ball home canning kit and had a go today. After making jam, heating jars, lids and rims, filling jars and putting lids on and tightening rims to finger-tightness, I lowered them into the boiling pot of water in the basket that comes with the kit. The water was boiling okay, then one of the jar’s lids came off and water rushed into the jar. I was upset but was okay because the 2nd jar appeared to be doing well. When processing time was up, I lifted the jars out after a further 5 minutes, and found water in both of the jars. 🙁 Sooo upset! Why did this happen? Now i am scared about doing it next time! Help!

  183. When putting the preserves in the water bath does this cook the contents further?
    Just made brandied figs and wondered if I could have put them in uncooked then filled the jar with the syrup so as not to overcook figs. I’m new to canning.
    I’m enjoying hearing the popping lids ? I’m from Australia

    • You want to use jars that have been designed for water bath canning. You can use single piece lids, but ideally they should be new. It’s not good canning practice to reuse commercial jam and jelly jars.

  184. Hello. I’m new to canning and my concern is my product. Im planning to make cooked garlic in oil. Do I need to pat the bottles and seal dry before pouring the mixture or is it okay to just pour it even if it is slightly wet? Im planning to finish it with a boiling bath. Need your advice on this. Thank you very much.

    • The the product you’re planning on making is a low acid product and so is not safe to can in a boiling water bath. You need to pressure can that garlic to ensure its safety.

  185. I’m canning salsa. The water is very very hot with slight bubbles but not a rolling boil. The stove has been on well over and hour…..Is my salsa safe to take out and store?

    • Not really. The boiling water bath process always ends up cooking the food to a certain degree, so you will always lose some texture.

  186. So I may have made a canning mistake this weekend and I’m having trouble finding answers on the internet, but you may know. I canned crushed tomatoes (which I put in the jar after boiling/reducing for about 20 minutes) using a water bath I set up outside on a large propane burner. When it was time to take them off, I went out and realized a lot of the water had boiled out of the pot – like down to about 2 inches below the jar lids. I took them out and thought “Great, I need to redo this whole thing”, but they were already sealed. Do I need to in fact redo them?

  187. I just made pepper jelly and only 3 jars sealed. I didn’t boil them I just flipped them. so since they seal can I put new lids on and boil to seal? the jelly is pretty cool right now. and how long would they have to boil

  188. Is it necessary to keep the lid on while doing a water bath. When I do quart jars, the water just pours out during the boiling stage. It looked like you didn’t cover the pot at all. Thanks!

    • You need to start with a giardianara recipe that was designed for canning. Not all pickles are safe for the water bath canner.

  189. How do I prevent the awful burning/scorching that occurs to my electric stove top after each session of water bath canning? I don’t even want to can anymore because of the 2-hour clean up to the stove top afterwards. The pot is 1/2″-1″ larger than the electric coil element and the heat builds up with the long wait for the water to boil (30 min.) and the time to process the jars. My stove isn’t looking that clean anymore…ugh. Does anyone have this problem?

    • Have you considered getting a smaller canning pot? I cook on an electric stove and I don’t have this problem. But I only use pots that fit the footprint of my burner.

  190. I’d like to be able to use the larger one, as I always have. It processes up to 7 pint jars at a time. If I went smaller, it would double the work. There must be some remedy as I’m sure other “canners” use electric stoves with large pots……

  191. sometimes after hot bathing canned products the water is not over the top….is this okay………i do spagh sauce for 45 minutes is this too long ?

    • You either need to use a bigger pot or add some additional boiling water so that the jars don’t boil to exposure during processing. You want them to remain entirely submerged. And tomato sauces do typically need at least 45 minutes of processing.

  192. My red pepper jelly and my strawberry jam taste excellent; and they sealed very well. However, both are runny. I know I used the required amounts of sugar and pectin; and I know the pectin was not too old. I timed the boil and the immersion into the water. I wonder if it’s because
    a. I might not have had perfectly dry jars
    b. My husband picks them up to see if they’ve thickened
    c. The lids might not have been dry.


    • Did you test for set? Cooking times are typically estimates. You also need to check for set to ensure that enough water has cooked out and that the sugar has reached the proper temperature. Additionally, did you use the amount of sugar the recipe called for?

      Damp jars and your husband’s jostling shouldn’t have impacted the set at all.

  193. Sorry if you mentioned it already.

    Do you have to put the filled jars directly into the water bath or can they sit for a little bit? We have a ton of processing to do and wanted to fill all the jars and put them in the water bath in groups of 7 one after the other. If we do this that means some will be sitting over one hour filled before we boil them.


    • They need to go into the water promptly. If you let them sit, they will cool and you then risk spoilage and jar breakage.

  194. I just canned some salsa today, first time canning anything, and I didn’t have a tall enough pot to fill much over the top of the jars without overflowing onto the stove. The jars were covered for a couple minutes but by the end of the time (I added some extra time) the water was about 1/3” below the top of the lid. The seals seem to have formed on the lids. Are they safe? Or do I need to start over? If I start over, is it ok to start with the jars as they are again or so I need to get new lids? Thank you!

    • It’s not ideal. The best course of action is to put the jars in the fridge, since they weren’t fully sterilized. If you reprocess them with new lids in a larger pot, you risk compromising the texture of the salsa.

    • You don’t need the jars to be boiled in step one. You just need to heat the jars enough so that they won’t break when you fill them with the hot jam. The jars will get sterilized during the processing step. However, if they do boil in that initial step, it’s no big deal.

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