Posts Tagged ‘canning’

By April, the writing was on the wall. More people were gearing up to plant vegetable gardens than we’d seen in quite a while. That meant that more people were planning how to preserve their abundance of produce.

Apparently as people were stocking up on toilet paper, hand sanitizer and sanitizing wipes, they were also purchasing canning jars and lids. I actually don’t know all the reasons why there is a shortage, as it doesn’t seem to be very newsworthy material. But it is true that canning lids, or flats, are very difficult to find right now.

It may remind some of you of a similar incident in 1975. A shortage of raw materials that year caused a great reduction in production. Lid manufacturers were even asked to testify before Congress about the reasons for the nationwide shortage.

Instead of focusing on what we can’t change, let’s focus on what we can. (No pun intended there.) Here are some things to consider.

How old are the lids you are using?

When I called every store I could think of within a 20 mile radius and learned they were all out of lids, I then sent a text to the first hopeful source that popped in my mind – my aunt. I knew that she was freezing a lot more than canning these days, so I hoped she might have some. Sure enough, she had a variety on hand. Regular lids. Wide mouth lids. Ball lids. Completely unbranded lids.

I laughed when I looked at one of the price tags. It was a small ziptop bag with three dozen lids from a bulk food store for $2.89. I had just been on Amazon a few hours earlier to see prices like $13.25 for one dozen.  There were some cheaper options, but delivery dates are about a month out.

According to the Ohio State University Extension Fact Sheet “Canning Basics”, lids will last for about 5 years. After that time, the gasket compound may fail to seal on jars. It is recommended to only buy what you will use within one year.

Are you thinking of reusing lids?

The National Center for Home Food Preservation (NCHFP) is a trusted site for research-based recipes and processing best practices. According to NCHFP, “Lids should not be used a second time since the sealing compound becomes indented by the first use, preventing another airtight seal. Screw bands may be reused unless they are badly rusted or the top edge is pried up which would prevent a proper seal.”

It is simply not safe to reuse a lid that has already been processed.

Are you screwing those bands on too tight?

The last thing you want to do now is to process your jars and get a bad seal, resulting in a lost lid and the need to reprocess. So, once you have filled the jars to proper headspace, release any air bubbles with a flat plastic spatula. Then be sure to wipe the jar rims with a dampened paper towel. A clean jar surface is key for ensuring a good seal. The next important step is to screw on the metal band only until it is fingertip tight. This is critical so air can escape from the jar. Over tightening can cause lids to buckle and jars to break, especially with raw-packed, pressure processed foods like green beans.  

Have you considered freezing instead?

If you are short on lids, freezing is an excellent, alternate method of food preservation. The “Food Preservation: Freezing Vegetables” fact sheet has all kinds of tips and recommendations for freezing.

Written by: Emily Marrison, Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, OSU Extension Coshocton County

Reviewed by: Lisa Barlage, Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, OSU Extension Ross County


Ohio State University Extension Ohioline (2015) Canning Basics. https://ohioline.osu.edu/factsheet/HYG-5338

National Center for Home Food Preservation. The University of Georgia College of Family and Consumer Sciences (2020) https://nchfp.uga.edu/

Ohio State University Extension Ohioline (2015) Food Preservation: Freezing Vegetables https://ohioline.osu.edu/factsheet/HYG-5333

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Safe, high quality home canned foods begin with the right equipment, used properly.  Why risk losing your time and food dollar through spoilage?  Check and assemble good equipment before the season begins, then maintain it well.

Check jars and bands.  Discard chipped jars and rusted or distorted bands.

Have pressure gauges checked.  Check with your local Extension office for Food Preservation Workshop or pressure canner gauge testing dates/times.

Check seals on last summer’s produce. canned foods

Make plans to use up last summer’s produce (both frozen and canned) to make room for new products and to prevent waste of food.

Check files to make sure your food preservation information is complete and up-to-date.


  1. I have several peanut butter, pickle and quart-sized mayonnaise jars which I would like to be able to use for canning. Is it safe to use these jars in a boiling water bath canner or a pressure canner?
  2. NO! Use only standard canning jars for home canning as these jars have been specially annealed to withstand the heat necessary in the home canning process. However, these make good refrigerator storage jars, are a perfect solution for your picnic packaging  needs, or can be recycled at your local recycling center.
  3. How long is it safe to store canned food?
  4. For optimum quality of food, plan to use home-canned food within one year. After 1 year, quality of food goes down, but is still safe as long as the seal is still intact and there is no sign of spoilage.  Whatever the age, ALWAYS boil low-acid, pressure canned food a full 10 minutes.  Twenty (20) minutes for corn, spinach and meats) to destroy any botulism toxins.  DO NOT taste prior to boiling.
  5. Which pressure canner is more accurate– the kind with a dial or the one with a weight control?
  6. Both are accurate if used and cared for according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Some people like numbers on a dial; others prefer the sight and sound (“jiggling” noise) of the weight control.
  7. Do I have to use a pressure canner to can low acid foods such as green beans, corn, potatoes, etc.?
  8. YES, YES, YES!!! Low-acid foods must be canned in a pressure canner. Whether food should be processed in a pressure canner or boiling-water canner to control botulinum bacteria depends on the acidity of the food. Acidity may be natural, as in most fruits, or added, as in pickled food. Low-acid canned foods are not acidic enough to prevent the growth of these bacteria. Acid foods contain enough acid to block their growth, or destroy them more rapidly when heated. The term “pH” is a measure of acidity; the lower its value, the more acid the food. The acidity level in foods can be increased by adding lemon juice, citric acid, or vinegar.

Low-acid foods have pH values higher than 4.6. They include red meats, seafood, poultry, milk, and all fresh vegetables except for most tomatoes.  For more information – check out the National Center for Home Food Preservation’s website at http://nchfp.uga.edu/.


OSU Extension’s page on food safety:  http://fcs.osu.edu/food-safety.

National Center for Home Food Preservation – www.http://nchfp.uga.edu/.

Written by:  Cynthia R. Shuster, CFLE, Extension Educator, Family and Consumer Sciences, OSU Extension, Perry County, Buckeye Hills EERA.

Reviewed by:  Pat Brinkman, Extension Educator, Family and Consumer Sciences, OSU Extension, Fayette County, Miami Valley EERA.

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Many people grow a few tomatoes in their backyard.  They can be planted in the landscaping, in a container on your patio, or you may have enough space for a garden.  If you are a home grower you may have more tomatoes than you know what to do with.  Of course, you’re first thought might be to eat them fresh, but if you have grown tired of this here are some ideas to include them in dishes you make.

  • If your recipe calls for peeled and/or seeded tomatoes, hold in boiling water for 30 seconds, plunge into cold water, drain, make a slit in the blossom end and peel skins back.
  • Seed by cutting the tomato in half crosswise and remove seeds with the tip of a knife or spoon.
  • Slice tomatoes the French way, from stem to blossom by doing so they lose less juice.
  • Top with fresh or dried herbs, such as basil, oregano, tarragon, thyme, or curry powder.
  • Stuff large tomatoes with a variety of mixtures such as fish, poultry, egg salad, or cottage cheese.
  • Stuff cherry tomatoes for bite-size appetizers. To prepare, slice off tops and a very thin slice off the bottom, so they will stand well. Remove seeds and juice with a melon scoop. Stuff with your favorite fillings—cream cheese and watercress; tuna and mayonnaise; pulverized peanuts, mayonnaise and curry powder; or avocado, minced onion, and lemon juice.
  • For an elegant salad or appetizer, layer sliced tomatoes, fresh basil leaves, and fresh mozzarella cheese on lettuce. Dress lightly with olive oil.
  • Tomatoes get better and better tasting as you cook them. They are great in entrees that cook a long time or require next day “reheating.”

A four-ounce tomato supplies about one-third of your daily nutrient needs for vitamin C, and a little beta carotene, potassium, folate, iron and fiber.  They also contain lycopene an antioxidant that may reduce the risk of prostate and possibly other cancers.  Lycopene is more easily absorbed in cooked than in raw tomatoes.

If you are interested in preserving some of your tomatoes check out the following fact sheets:

Canning Basics http://ohioline.osu.edu/hyg-fact/5000/pdf/5338.pdf

Canning Tomatoes http://ohioline.osu.edu/hyg-fact/5000/pdf/5336.pdf

Canning Tomato Products http://ohioline.osu.edu/hyg-fact/5000/pdf/5337.pdf

Author:  Linnette Goard, Field Specialist, Food Safety, Selection and Management, Ohio State University Extension.

Reviewed by:  Liz Smith, Extension Education, Family and Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension.


Selecting, Storing, and Serving Ohio Tomatoes available at: http://ohioline.osu.edu/hygfact/5000/pdf/5532.pdf

University of California, Berkeley, Wellness Made Easy

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