How (and WHY) To Disinfect Jars


So for longtime followers of Hippie Stink and Hippie Home, you know why I’m making this post. For those who don’t though: I run a half-acre homestead where I grow my own vegetables for the year, and the fact is that all those veggies need preserved somehow. I’ve become pretty good at freezing and canning produce over the years, and one thing I’ve learned is that it’s important to disinfect your canning jars before canning food in them.

Why is this? To put it simply, canning in unsterilized jars can actually cause issues such as botulism to crop up, and no one wants to go to the hospital for eating some canned spaghetti sauce. So we disinfect to hopefully prevent that from happening (as well as other safety practices).

Disinfecting jars is super easy for me, because I have a steam oven with a sterilize function. It’s basically a big steamer and is safe for use on even your baby’s bottles. Most people don’t have that however, so I’m going to talk about the easiest and most accessible way to sterilize your canning jars!

In the US, the USDA only endorses boiling your canning jars for sterilization. The steps are very simple, and the results are perfectly safe. All you need is canning jars, a large pot, and water.

Here’s How to Do It:

  1. Place empty jars in a large pot. You may use the same pot you will be using as a boiling water bath to can the jars once they are filled with food.
  2. Completely cover the jars with water.
  3. Bring to a boil over high heat.
  4. Once the water reaches a full rolling boil, begin timing. Boil the jars for 15 minutes.
  5. Turn off the heat. If you are not quite ready to fill the sterilized jars and proceed with canning your recipe, you can leave them in the hot water for up to an hour. If you wait longer than an hour, you’ll need to sterilize them again.

Note: Do not boil the canning lids as this can harm their adhesive rings. Instead, add the canning lids to the hot water after you turn off the heat when the jars have finished boiling.

It’s really that easy! Can with confidence everyone!

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