Inspect the rims of the jars to make sure there are no small chips or cracks. Wash in hot soapy water, rinse well.

If you will be processing the filled jars for more than 15 minutes, simply put the jars aside until you are ready to fill them.

If you are making jam, jelly or another preserve that requires only a short processing time, sterilize the jars using the following procedure:

  • Place a washcloth in the bottom of a large pot, arrange the jars on the bottom and fill with enough water to cover the jars by 1 inch
  • Bring the water to a boil and then boil gently for 15 minutes
  • Turn off heat and let stand in the hot water until about 5 minutes before you are ready to fill the jars.

Place the jars upside down on a clean towel to drain dry.

Lids should be warm when they are placed on the jars. Place the lids in a small pot and cover with water. Heat for a few minutes until warm but do not boil the lids.

Fill the jars to within 1/4 inch of the top, or there will be too much air and lessen the chances of a good seal.

After filling the jars, wipe the rims carefully with a damp cloth to remove any food and then top with the warm lid and attach the ring.

Try to work fairly quickly so the lids are warm and the food is very hot during this process. This is another reason small batches work well.

When putting the filled jars back in the boiling water for the final processing, make sure the jars are covered by 1-2" of water.