How to Sterilize Canning Jars Without a Pressure Cooker

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Home canned foods can let you enjoy out of season foods any time.
Home canned foods can let you enjoy out of season foods any time. (Image: Jupiterimages/Photos.com/Getty Images)

Canning is an excellent way to preserve leftover fruits and vegetables from your garden. Canning isn’t without risks, however. Improper canning using unsterilized canning jars can be a recipe for a health disaster. According to the USDA, canned food may grow the bacteria Clostridium botulinum, which is the cause of a dangerous form of food poisoning called botulism. While using a pressure cooker is the recommended method of sterilizing jars, there is another safe method that is equally as effective.

Things You'll Need

  • Boiling water canner
  • Canning jars
  • Wire rack
  • Jar lifter or tongs
  • Paper towels or a clean dish towel

Check the mouth of the jars for any nicks or cracks. Jars with defects should be discarded as they won't form a proper seal.

Insert the wire rack into the boiling water canner.

Place the canning jars mouth up on the rack and pour hot water over the jars, filling both the jars and the pot to 1 inch above the top of the jars.

Bring the water to a boil and boil for 10 minutes unless you live at an elevation of over 1,000 feet. For higher elevations, an additional minute should be added for each 1,000 feet increase in elevation.

Remove the jars one at a time using a jar lifter and drain.

Set the jars, mouth up, on towels to dry.

Tips & Warnings

  • Sterilize canning jars before using to prevent contamination.
  • Use caution when removing jars from the pot of boiling water as burns may occur.

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