IANS – Reusing Canning Jars


The center jars in the both rows have lug-type lids. Thirty-plus years and still sealed.

It ain’t what you don’t know that gets you into trouble. It’s what you know for sure that just ain’t so. ~ Mark Twain

When George Gershwin composed the song It Ain’t Necessarily So, he was onto something. I’d love to have a nickel for everything I was taught or told or just accepted as fact in the course of my life. From food preservation to gardening to animal husbandry to medicine to finance, there have been a lot more ‘not-so’ things than ‘so’ things. A while back I did a post on not needing to waterbath jams and jellies; I got more than 100 comments corroborating my “not-so” position. At which point it occurred to me there are lots of other not-so things out there, and shazaam, I had an ongoing blog topic. Here’s the latest “it ain’t necessarily so” (IANS).

You Can’t Re-Use Canning Jars With Lug Lids
Well, yes, you can. Lug jars are those one-piece lids that are typically found on store-bought jams, jellies, pickles and condiments like relish. The sealing compound is permanently bonded onto the inside of the lid, unlike regular canning jars in which the sealing compound is bonded to the lid and you screw the lid down with a separate ring. First, you can reuse lug-lidded canning jars for freezing or making fermented foods, and lots of people do this. But you can also re-use them for canning. Now, I will add a couple of caveats here. Check the inside of the lid to make sure the ring of sealing compound is intact. I use lug-lidded canning jars for making jams and jellies rather than foods I have to waterbath. They’re often odd sizes and shapes, which makes it more difficult to fit them in the pot. I don’t pressure can them for that reason, as different sizes and shapes may need different processing times (I never seem to have a bunch of them that are identical!). You must also follow all the usual recommendations about washing in hot, soapy water, and heating jars and lids in boiling water, etc. The jars have a button in the center that sinks in when the jar seals, so make sure you check it after canning. If the button isn’t indented or doesn’t indent and stay there when you press it, store the jar in the refrigerator. These jars are typically thrown away by many people or are available for pennies (if not free) at yard and garage sales. Using them for jams, jellies, relishes and other products that don’t require a waterbath is a moneysaver.

Take a Missouri Approach
Missouri is the “show me” state. The mental attitude of “you’ll have to prove it to me” is a good one. Use your common sense. When your experience or that of people you trust is contrary to accepted scientific wisdom or expert recommendations, odds are very high the scientific wisdom and the experts are out to lunch. Ask the old homicide lawyer’s question, “Cui bono?” Loosely translated as “Who benefits?” what it actually means is “To whose profit?” When big bucks, company survival or professional reputations are on the line, ethics quite often take a back seat. Circus entrepreneur PT Barnum is credited as the person who coined the sucker-born-every-minute rule. In fact, there’s no evidence that he did say it; however, there is some evidence that it was said about Barnum’s tactics, by a banker named David Hannum. Don’t be a sucker and remember: it ain’t necessarily so.

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