Canning at home means you need to get some jars and lids to store your food. There are so many styles and sizes to choose from and maybe you don’t know where to start. You do know that you want the end result to be safe to eat, but you also want it to look nice.
Food safety should always be a concern when canning. Do not re-use a glass jar that another food came in. Many commercially packaged glass containers look like they are the same as the jars made for home canning. The glass is usually thinner and the screw top thread pattern is different.
Home canning jars are available in a variety of sizes, shapes and designs. The top of the jar is called is called the mouth. The size of this opening determines whether it is “wide” or “regular”. Your choice depends on what you are going to put into the jar. If the food is ground, chopped or sliced you can pick the regular mouth style. Larger food items that are whole or quartered are easier to place in a wide mouth jar. There are no rules that you need to follow. Just pick the size opening that will be easiest for you to use.
The amount of food that you will put into a jar determines what size jar you will need. You also want to consider what type of food you are making. One or two people do not need a quart of peach jam, but a family of six uses a lot of jam for toast and sandwiches. The same thing goes for pickle relish! If you are planning on giving away some of your canned food use smaller size jars.
Your food recipe helps you decide what size jar to purchase. Most recipes will state the “yield” in half-pints, pints, or quarts. It is a good idea to use the size jar that is indicated in the recipe. If you really need to have a quart of pickle relish you can do the math and figure out if your recipe will result in enough relish to fill a quart instead of the 6 half-pints. If you are just learning home canning use what is recommended in the recipe.
The outside of the glass jar can be different too! Pick a style that you like. Some jars have the manufacturer’s name and measurements embossed in the glass. Other jars have a fancier quilted pattern as part of the design. Sometimes you will see jars that look like drinking glasses or mugs. Check the packaging to make certain that the jars you purchase are made for home canning.
Most canning jars come with lids and rings that are the same size as the jar mouth. There are some really pretty lids and rings that can be purchased separately. The flat metal lid has a flange on top and a rubber looking sealant on the bottom. The ring is a threaded metal screw band that holds the lid in place and fits over the rim of the jar. These items provide closure and sealing to ensure the safety of your food items.
Use a new lid each time you can food at home. The rubber sealant will only work for a single use. If you use an old lid you will not be able to get a good vacuum seal on your jar. This can result in food that is unsafe to eat. Jars not properly sealed can leak or break when placed in the canning pot. That can make a real mess that you will not want to clean up!