My mother texted me earlier this week with an urgency: could the flat lids from canning jars be reused? She’s a novice canner who has loved the jams, relishes, sauces and pickled items I’ve canned over the years, but only just dipped her toes into canning too.
I think sometimes experienced canners forget — or don’t realize — that not everyone grew up canning. My mother, who grew up in the 1960s in New York, or I, who grew up in the 1980s in New York, certainly didn’t. So things that might seem trivial — or obvious — aren’t.
She is learning, slowly, from me. I learned by sheer will, relying on books like “Preserving Summer’s Bounty,” by Susan McClure and “Preserving Memories,” by Judy Glattstein to learn to first make jams, then pickles, then relishes and sauces. At first, I primarily water-bath canned to preserve, but these days, I also freeze vegetables like string beans, peas and corn in vacuum-packed bags. (Some vegetables need to be blanched before freezing.)
You’ll notice that I didn’t mention pressure canning. I don’t pressure can presently. A combination of water bath canning and freezing is perfect for me right now. That could change in the future, of course.
All of this, and an email from a reader, got me thinking about the things we take for granted as canners.
For instance, I have always been drawn to the marinara jars modeled after actual canning jars. It would be easy to assume that because they look like canning jars, they can be used as canning jars.
“There are a lot of beautiful jars out there. The spaghetti jars are made to look like canning jars [but] those jars are not tempered to be used for multiple cannings,” said Lisa Fishman, a regional supervisor and nutrition education professional with the University of Maine Cooperative Extension.
What does that mean? They won’t hold up to the high temperatures of a water bath or pressure canner. Using them risks breakage.
“Jars that are not tempered properly are more likely to be cracked or shattered under pressure,” Fishman told me.
Sarah Walker Caron
Sarah Walker Caron is editor of Bangor Metro magazine and senior features editor for the Bangor Daily News. She is the author of "The Super Easy 5-Ingredient Cookbook," (Sept. 2018, Rockridge Press) and...
More by Sarah Walker Caron