How to sterilize jars for preserving, preparing homemade preserves, whether they are pickled, in oil, jams or sauces is an operation that anyone who has a vegetable garden at home will sooner or later want to try. What’s better than preserving the flavor, freshness, and authenticity of what is produced by your own hands over time?
However, the preparation of the preserves must be carried out carefully to avoid the danger of mold and botulinum development. So let’s see how to sterilize jars, a fundamental preparatory operation for the home production of preserves.
The recommendation to be made is to be cautious in implementing the following hygienic precautions, we also recommend reading and respecting the guidelines of the Ministry of Health regarding the preparation of preserves.
General hygiene rules
Before proceeding with the sterilization of the jars, there are some fundamental rules to observe: it is good to take care of personal hygiene, of the environment in which you work, and of the containers that will be used, carefully evaluate which jars to use and which pots to use.
As for hygiene, hands must be thoroughly washed before starting to handle the ingredients and it is necessary to work in a clean environment: the kitchen, worktops, and tools (including dishcloths and sponges, which should be disinfected and changed frequently ) must be cleaned before each use.
This general rule is used to avoid contamination of the food and containers that we are going to use.
The choice of jar and lids
It is of fundamental importance to carefully choose the pots that will be used: today there are, of all shapes, sizes, materials, and capacities. It is preferable to choose glass jars, which have the advantage of being able to be reused for several years (taking care to check that they do not have chips or cracks) and allow you to easily inspect the condition of the preserves.
Prefer small jars, at most half a liter of capacity, so as not to leave the preserves open for too long once consumption has begun, and with a wide mouth to facilitate decanting operations. Screw caps are preferred, single-use, and therefore safer. If you have lids with rubber seals available, check their integrity every time you go to use them.
The pots for sterilizing the jars must have an adequate capacity for the number and size of the containers. Consider that the water must exceed the lid of the jars by at least 5 cm.
The sterilization operation
Once all the necessary tools have been prepared with the precautions described above, you can proceed with the sterilization of the jars. In reality, in the home environment we should talk about sanitation instead of sterilization since the latter is an operation to be carried out at high temperatures (above 100 °) for many hours in order to completely eliminate all microbial forms, spores included, often extremely heat resistant. It is therefore clear how it can be accomplished only with special machinery (called autoclaves) in the industrial sector.
To sanitize the jars in the home, a pot of suitable capacity will therefore be used and the jars placed inside, suitably protected by a clean cloth deposited on the bottom that wraps them one by one, to prevent the jars themselves from boiling. crack with accidental bumps.
The jars must be completely covered with water, which will be brought to the boil. The same procedure must be followed for caps, any gaskets, and spacers that will be used for preserves.
If our preserves require filling the jars with hot products, as in the case of jams, the jars will be left in hot water until they are used, to avoid excessive temperature changes during the filling phases. If, on the other hand, the recipe calls for the use of cold products, we will use perfectly clean and dry jars,
by drying the cans upside down on clean, freshly ironed tea towels. In this way we will not go to make the sanitization process in vain.
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