Customers often ask if they should wash their canning jars before filling them. In our continuing series of Frequently Asked Questions, we are discussing if your canning jars need to be washed before you fill them.
Yes, always wash your canning jars before using them – whether they are bulk canning jars or ones in retail packaging. New canning jars out of the box are not sterile.
When glass jars leave manufacturing plants, they aren’t sterilized. Glassware arrives at Fillmore Container in cardboard cases. Some glass manufacturers place jars mouth down in cardboard cases. Other glass manufacturers place jars mouth up. The stacking pattern also varies among manufactures and some stack cases upside-down. Most food glassware comes to us in cases that are not taped or sealed, which means that dust and debris can easily enter the unsealed cases and land in or on the jars.
The goal of cleaning your jars is to remove any contaminants that might impact the safety of your product.
The method or degree of cleaning will vary depending on your process.
If you are using your jars for a business and have a commercial food product, many commercial food manufacturers use a blast of air to remove any debris. When sterilization can be achieved during the canning process, blasting the jars with air to remove debris is sufficient. Another way to clean the jars is to sanitize them in a commercial-grade dishwasher.
If you are a home canner we suggest running your canning jars through the dishwasher to clean and preheat them. You can also place the empty jars in the water bath before filling. Place the jars right-side-up on a rack in your waterbath canner and bring the water to a boil for 10 minutes. When you are ready to fill the jars, remove the jars one at a time, carefully emptying the water back into the canner. This will keep the hot water in the canner so it’s ready to process your filled jars. Certainly, you could always hand-wash your jars as well. If you hand-wash, it’s a great time to inspect jars for chips or cracks.
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