Mason jars, also known as canning jars, provide a simple and inexpensive way to preserve dry foods. With the use of an oxygen-absorbing packet, the food stays fresh in the jar for up to eight years. The jars protect the food from insects and rodents and prevent it from going stale.
*Preparing the Jars
Sterile mason jars are imperative to preserving foods. Wash the jars to remove any dust or debris and submerge them in a pot of boiling water for five minutes to sanitize them. Allow the boiled jars to air dry. Wash, boil and dry the screw bands as well. Pour about 2 inches of water into a clean pot and bring it to a boil. Place the mason jarsí lids into the boiling water. If the lids came with instructions, prepare them according to the package instead. You need a lid magnet or lid gripper to remove them from the boiling water safely.
*Adding the Food
Any long-term food that contains no moisture is suitable for dry pack canning. Freeze-dried goods, grains, cereals, sugars, flours, nuts, pastas, drink mixes, dried beans and dry milk are all good candidates.
Fill a clean jar with dry food, leaving 1/2 inch of room at the top; this is known as leaving head space. Shake the jar gently to remove any air pockets and place an oxygen-absorbing packet on top. You can purchase oxygen-absorbing packets from some grocers and specialty food websites.
A canning funnel makes the process easier and cleaner. Ensure no food touches the sterile rim of the jar; if this occurs, wipe it clean with a towel and hot water.
*Sealing the Jars
Remove one lid from the boiling water with a lid gripper and dry it thoroughly with a lint-free towel. Work quickly so the lid is still warm when you put it on the jar. Place the lid on a Mason jar and screw a band over the top. The band should be tight, but not as tight as possible.
When the lids have cooled and sealed to the jars, you should hear a small popping noise as the center of each lid sucks in. This could take between five minutes and five hours, depending on various factors. Remove the band and lid from any jar that did not seal, wipe the jarís rim clean, boil the lid once more and try again.
Store the sealed jars in a dark, cool place.
If the food is exposed to moisture before the jar is sealed, or if the lid is not completely dry, the food within will likely mold. Keep an eye on the food for the first few weeks to ensure it does not mold. Never can food that is not fresh, as this can allow harmful bacteria to form within the Mason jars. If a jarís seal is broken when you remove it from storage, do not consume the food inside
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