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10cowife, Consultant
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Experience:  15+ years consulting
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Actually, I have several questions. To sterilize my jars, can

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Actually, I have several questions. To sterilize my jars, can I put them in a large pot with a few inches of water and boil/steam them? For how long? Do I also put my lids in with them? Then after I put the jam in the jars (how much room should I leave at the top?) do I screw the lids on tight? Now when I put them into the large pot, how much water should I put in the pot? How long should I cook them? Should it be at a low boil?
Hello, Customer --

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You sterilize jars, bands and lids by either boiling them first for a few minutes and then drying them with a clean towel (place them on a towel with sterilized tongs) OR many people use mason jars, lids, and bands right out of the dishwasher on the sterilize cycle.

THEN you fill the jars with your jam or jelly. It helps to fill them and then run a clean, sterile knife through the contents to release any air bubbles. Wipe the rims clean and leave about 1" of headspace. At this point you screw the lids on tight but not SUPER tight - you can tighten them more later. Place them in the water bath canner full of liquid about an inch OVER the tops of the jars. It's also a good idea to place them on a canning rack in the water canner. You don't need a specific canner, any very large pot will do - the rack helps. Do not crowd the jars. You may need to process them in batches. You process them for about 15 minutes is all for jams and jellies. It should be a rolling boil.

Meat is an entirely different matter and specifications are different and should be followed exactly in order to avoid botulism.

Here is a fantastic online link for canning in general: LINK

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10cowife and 17 other General Specialists are ready to help you
p.s. It's my tradition and habit to place the jars on a towel to dry. When they're cool, the lids should have retracted and not make a popping sound if pressed on the top. If they "pop" then they did not process long enough and you would need to eat that portion right away or store it in the fridge for immediate use.

The jars that have sealed properly will be good for longer and should be kept in a cool, dry, dark place.