Canning Safety-Sterilization

There are four requirements to insure a safely canned product (this does not apply to pressure canning).  These are sterilization, temperature, vacuum, and acidity.  This note will address the first, sterilization.  In the past because the way our mothers and grandmothers did what they did we continue with the tradition.  Often these procedures takes much time and are unnecessary.  The things we want to sterilize are the jars and lids we will be using, along with the tools, and the counter tops where we will be working.  The easiest and BEST way to accomplish this is by filling a sink with a measured amount of water and then add 2 tablespoons of 6% sodium hypochlorite per gallon of water.  This will produce a 200 part per million solution that will sterilize all. Sound high tech?  Sodium Hypochlorite in  6% solution is best known as Clorox and is available at most grocery stores.  Using a clean cloth soaked in the solution, wipe down the counter tops.  Next, soak the jars and lids for two minutes before removing and placing the jars on the sterile counter top upside down to drain.  If using two piece lids only the center disc (always use new discs) need be sterilized.  Finally dunk all the tools and allow to drain.  This ten minute procedure will insure a sterlize environment and save much preparation time.  For credibility, as a commercial canner this method was required of me by the FDA.

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67 Responses to Canning Safety-Sterilization

  1. Putting Up is one of the best preservation books on the market. Steve not only introduces you to the tips and tricks you watched your grandmother do with ease, but he broadens your culinary horizons with recipes that are so good and so fresh that you can’t wait to try more. I can’t wait for Putting Up More.

  2. Steve Dowdney says:

    Appreciate the comment, Christopher. Can On!

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    • Steve Dowdney says:

      Jars, lids, equipment, working surfaces and tools should all be clean and sterile. The heat of the canning process along with the acidity of the product further sterilizes. As I mentioned in a blog, best way to sterilize is with a 200 ppm solution of water with sodium hypochlorite (Cloxox). 2 tablespoons of Cloxox per gallon of water does the trick.
      When pressure canning none of this applies because the 235-245 deg heat kills all bacteria, flavor and nutrients. -steve

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