How to Sterilize and Seal Jars for Canning

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There are two schools of thought on the proper way to preserve foods in sterilized, sealed jars. One method is to fill washed jars with food, seal the jars with lids, and process the filled jars on a rack fitted into a large pot of boiling water for 10 to 15 minutes. What I (and many other Southerners) object to with this method is the fact that cooked foods such as fruits, pickles, and certain relishes risk being overcooked and becoming mushy from the extra boiling. Preferable and easier is the fail-proof method described below, so long, that is, as you take care not to touch the insides of the sterilized jars, wipe the rims clean, make sure the food is boiling hot, and screw the lids on tightly. This is the method I’ve used for decades, and I’ve never once “lost” a jar of pickles or preserves.
Unscrew the ring bands from the canning jars, remove the lids, and wash both thoroughly with soap and hot water. Arrange the jars open ends down in a large baking pan and cover with water. Bring the water to a boil, cover, and sterilize the jars for 10 minutes.
Remove the jars from the water with tongs and pack them with the food to be canned, taking care not to touch the insides of the jars once they have been sterilized. Wipe the rims very clean with moist paper towels, then use tongs to dip the sealing lids into the water used for sterilizing the jars. Fit the lids on top of the jars and screw the ring bands on tightly.
Place the filled jars in a draft-free area till the lids ping and remain down when pushed with a finger (signs they are sealed). Store in the refrigerator any jars whose lids remain convex and use these first.

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