How to Sterilize Canning Jars

About this Recipe

Each year my Mother invites me over to really learn how to can pickles, tomatoes and other favorites, and each year I show up but sort of avoid learning how to do it on my own and instead simply enjoy the finished product. This year was different. This year we filmed the process (video coming soon if you don't see it below!), I asked questions, I paid attention so it’s repeatable and something that I can learn. It is so easy to just ignore these seemingly complicated kitchen tasks until finally you dive in and realize that it is NOT THAT HARD! Also it’s a really valuable skill to have and makes me feel more connected to my family. Colorful homemade jars of canning make great gifts and when they are all lined up on your shelf when the work is done, according to my Mother, it reminds her of her mother (my Grandmother) and of memories of home.

For Half-Pint Jar Sizes

Altitude of Canning Location

0 to 1,001 ft: 5 minutes

1,000 ft to 6,000 ft: 10 minutes

6,000 ft+ : 15 minutes



Directions To Sterilize Canning Jars by Boiling

You will need:

Large pot for boiling with a lid (at least 2 inches taller than your jars)

Jars, lids and seal tops


Clean dish cloth

Once you have all of your equipment in place, the sterilizing should take about 25 minutes or so.

1. First - Wash jars in hot soapy water to remove any dirt or residue and rinse well.

2. Completely cover the jars with regular hot tap water. Fit as many jars as you can into your pot, or sterilize in multiple batches.

* Note - you can use this same water for later on when you process the jars.

3. Bring water to a boil and boil for 10 minutes.

4. Remove jars using tongs, drain well, and set aside to dry on a CLEAN dish cloth. Use clean jars within an hour.

5. To sterilize lids - It is important NOT to boil the metal canning lids or their rings.

6. Place lids and their rings into simmering water for 10 minutes, and set aside to dry on a CLEAN dish cloth.

Directions To Sterilize Canning Jars in Oven

You will need:

Jars, lids and seal tops.

VERY clean cookie sheet.

1. Wash jars in hot soapy water to remove any dirt or residue and rinse well.

2. Arrange the jars, lids and rings onto a cookie sheet open side up.

3. Place into the oven and turn on the oven. Let it heat up to 225 degrees F. When the jars and oven reach temperature set the timer for 20 minutes.

4. Shut off when done and let the jars cool down before you handle them.

5. Use oven mitts and move them to a heatproof mat or clean towel.

6. As with the washing method, temperature of the glass is important and if you are transferring something hot be sure the jar is still warm.

Directions To Sterilize Canning Jars in Dishwasher:

You will need:

Jars, lids and seal tops.


1. This method is available only if you have a dishwasher that has a high-temperature setting.

2. When you are preparing your food for canning, load up the jars, lids and rings into the dishwasher and run them on a minimum or rinse wash setting. They need to be clean, sterilized and still warm when you pack them with your hot canning item.

ENJOY your canning!

Return to this How to Sterilize Canning Jars article or check out more recipes at Grandmother's Kitchen

My Grandmother, Mother and Aunties are masters of preserving. Each year, they get out their canning supplies, pickling spices, vinegar and whichever colorful produce they are inspired to can this season. Check out some of Grandmother's Canning Recipes.

To a newbie in the canning department, canning has always seemed extremely daunting! All the boiling, and sterilizing and risk of 'botulism' that I heard about growing up sort of turned me off.

Getting into canning your own food can be a great way to preserve fruits and vegetables from your garden, plus, it's also a fun activity to learn how to do. Canning has been a popular method of food preservation for well over a couple of centuries. It goes all the way back to 1795 when Napoleon Bonaparte asked people to come up with a way to preserve food in a package for the army members who were constantly travelling. There would be a reward for the best method which helped to incentivize people.

Nicholas Appert came up with a technique, but not until 15 years later. This method involved heat-processing the food in glass jars and then sealing them with wax which is not considered safe anymore. Peter Durand came up with canning food in tin cans which helped to introduce more ready to eat foods. By 1858 John Mason invented the glass jar with the screw on lid with a rubber seal which we all know and still use today. Alexander Kerr also invented a canning jar, but with the wide-mouth to make it easier to fill with a two-piece lid.

Canning jars are probably the most important product when it comes to canning supplies, and for safe food storage, it's essential to learn how to properly clean and sterilize your canning jars before you use them. This method of sterilizing your canning supplies will help to keep harmful bacteria and microorganisms out of your canned food so that it's safe to eat. We have a few different methods you can try including the boiling process, the oven method and the dishwasher method. So if you're going to can some food, find which method works best for you and make sure you sterilize your cans for proper safe food storage.

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