Kitchen Tip Tuesdays: Sealing canning jars

While I am not a canning-expert, I do have some experience with (and have had good success!) canning tomatoes. It's so rare that one of my jars doesn't seal, I'd have to guess that about 97% of my jars of tomatoes do seal. (I'm including all tomato products in this generalization.)

So, here are my tips for jars-that-seal! :)

1. Check the jar for cracks or nicks on the top rim. The top of the jar, where the canning lid goes, should feel completely smooth.

2. Fill jars of tomatoes (or pizza sauce, etc.) about 1/2 to 1-inch from the top.

3. After filling a jar, wipe the top rim with a clean dishcloth to remove any spilled tomatoes or smudges of sauce.

4. Use canning lids that are new. They can be a few (even 5) years old, but don't use the ones you found in your grandmother's basement when you were helping her clean. The rubber gets old after a while. :) And don't re-use a canning lid that you used on your food last summer! :)

5. Tighten the ring over the lid snugly, but not as tight as you can make it. The ring should give some resistance when you try to unscrew it, but it shouldn't require a lot of effort to take off again.

6. Follow the directions on your recipe for canning (usually for tomatoes, a boiling water bath). After removing the jars from the canner, place them on a folded towel or on a wooden cutting board. Don't touch or disturb the jars until they are cool! :)

Does anyone else have tips for successful jar-sealing rates when canning? I'd love to hear them! :)

Canned pizza sauce

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Kitchen Tip Tuesdays Participants

1. *Michigan Momma*
2. Shirley (Wonder Cleanser)
3. Mrs Pear (Zip Top Freezing Method)


Please excuse my lack of a subject--my post is about making panini's without a press and keeping a cool kitchen during canning season. Whoops!


Sounds like we follow the same guidelines for canning. :) I do have one question that maybe you can help me with. If a jar seals before you begin the canning process, is it necessary to can it still? It happened to me to the other day but I still stuck it in the canner just to be safe. :)

Some of my jars did this yesterday, as I was waiting to can the second batch. Basiclly, when you fill a jar with hot food and put the lid on it, as it cools, the food shrinks (or whatever you'd call it!) and creates a vacuum, so the lid seals. But it's necessary to actually process the jar in the boiling water bath so that all the bacteria/germs are killed... because just a sealed jar doesn't mean it won't spoil! :)

Yes, I still can them too. :)~Tanya

Okay, good to know that. I have one more question...can you recan(is that a word??) a jar that didn't seal? I was just wondering but then thought it might turn the contents to mush.

I think the *mush factor* probably depends on what you're canning, but I know my mom has re-canned jars that didn't seal. She puts new lids on them and then re-cans them. I haven't looked to see if this is recommended/okay safety-wise, I'm just telling you what my mom has always done. :)

I know we've done that with green beans, tomatoes, applesauce, and apple pie filling (which gave us the MOST trouble with sealing, so we gave up on canning that!!).

My mom has re-canned jars that didn't seal and I have done it too. ~Tanya

Was wondering made pepper jelly 4 of jars did not seal to reseal do I just do a water bath or heat up the jelly again in sauce pan to a hard boil? I already put unsealed in the frig. I am afraid if I mess with them they will unset. That is a whole new issue. can't figure out why sometimes my jelly won't set.

i just canned pear perserves and I am not sure on the sealing process..
will the water boil around the jars and how long do you keep it in the water
so that it kills bacteria/germs?

I love canning tomatoes! It's such a satisfying project to see all those jars. I have one more thing to add to what you wrote, Tammy... I also slide a knife down into each jar in a couple of places to remove any air pockets.

Choosing Voluntary Simplicity


In freezing jam and pizza sauce, I have found I can use a lid twice with no reduction in my sealing success rate. So the first time I just put a little dot on the jar lid, the second time I put a second dot or write on the lid, that way I know how many times a lid has been used.

We discovered this when we got more pizza sauce than expected, and did not have enough lids.


Phil 2:9-11

I reuse lids all the time. Just check them first to make sure they are not dented around the edge. ~Tanya

How do you keep the lid from getting dented when removing it for the first time?

Good question! I just remove them carefully I guess. :) I usually use the a butter knife when removing the lid.... ~Tanya

Okay, that should work for me too then. :)

To help seal the tomatoe jars a little better, we turn them upside down for a few mintues. We have a lot of trouble getting the pizza sauce to seal. I am not sure if it is because we open kettle or not, but turning the jars upside down seems to help. It is just for about 2-3 mintues. I am not sure what it does.

Kristy, that's great! Maybe sometime I'll be brave enough to try your idea... the cost of canning lids does add up, and they all end up in the trash, so the more use, the better, right? :)

Anonymous, I've never open-kettled pizza sauce... mine is so thick, when it boils, it splatters everywhere!! Plus, we're usually doing a large pan of it (10+ quarts) and it's hard to boil that much and keep it from sticking to the bottom of the pan. I bring it to a boil to add my thickening, and that's it... then I do the boiling water bath. :) I wonder if turning the jars upside down puts moisture near the seal, so that air can't get back in?? :)

We do 10+ quarts. We did 9 quarts and 20 pints last night. I am not sure what the upside down thing does, but it helps. We had 100% seal last night. We did have to give some whole and juice a second bath. We bath them and open kettled the salsa and sauce. We are doing BBQ sauce today and that is open kettle too.


I keep forgetting to add my name

I have a question. I am canning tomatoes, I do all of those steps that you mentin, but have heard that pressure canning is better for tomatoes so that is what I am doing. However, I have found that although my jars are sealed, they have leaked a bit in the processing and now have air pockets in the jars. What am I doing wrong.

It's possible you let the pressure out too quickly or overfilled the jars.

i have several quarts of canned apple butter. I would like to recanned the apple butter into smaller 1/2 pints and use them for gifts. i do not want to make anyone sick. i would reheat the applebutter and use sterile jars and new lids. Can i do this or should i just toss the apple butter?

I have never tried that myself. I have been canning for just about a year, and got advise from several friends on how to's. I just make so much apple butter at a time I do pints, half-pints, and 4 oz.

I have been canning for 20 plus years. And the the only time I had trouble with Jars not sealing is when I used ball lids. this year Kerr are now made by ball and last night I did 27 quarts of pickles and 7 did not seal. Has anyone else had this trouble and what do you think I should do?

Hello. We just did 28 jars of apple pie filling. Eight jars did not seal. I have used this recipe many times in the past with no trouble. This year we were using Ball and Kerr lids. We tried re-processing five of them using new lids, etc. and still had one that did not seal. I also do not know what to do about this so if anyone has any ideas, I would love to hear them, too!

Summer 2010 was my first year to can. I also bought Ball lids and had the same issue with a high percentage of the lids not sealing. After calling the company and reporting the issue, they sent me a coupon for new lids. It seems that Ball products aren't what they used to be....I've had the call the company 4 more times since then for other quality control issues that have impacted the lids, jar lifter or the rings.

8/16/ 2011 ...What has happened to Ball Lids? Most will not seal and what a waste of time and money down the drain plus loosing my food. How do you get ahold of Ball Canning Lid Makers. I'm so upset about this. Thank you, Donna in Indiana

We canned 3 bushel of green beans last week. We ended up with 68 qts of beans. We heard them popping and thought they had sealed. They had not sealed properly and as of right now we are down to only about 30 good jars of beans. We purchased the beans @$38.00 a bushel plus the cost of jars and more than that the time and labor. I am just about sick thinking of this.

what happens if the lids get pressed down before they can vacuum seal themselves? does that inhibit the jellification process when making jams?


I canned pears (in light syrup) four days ago and just noticed that they didn't seal. I noticed today that foam and bubbles were collecting in the jars and there was a leakage from the jars. I think I propably did not leave enough head space when filling the jars. Did the pears begin to firment at this time and is it ok for me to bring them to a good boil again and put them back into sterilized jars and reseal. I hate to lose the pears but I don't want
anyone to get sick either. They were only canned in sugar water. Any info on this would be appreciated.


You are correct about not leaving enough head space. That is generally the most common reason for jars that don't seal. The contents boils up and gets under the lid, leaving a path for air to re-enter the jar as it cools.

I canned some beets earlier today , my mom was helping me and she said to turn the jars upsidedown, everywhere ive read says thats a no no but can i still turn them upright and boil them or just cool them upside down as well?

last night I canned some apple butter I made, but I forgot a step. I forgot to run a spatula around the inside of the full jar to allow air pockets to escape. All of my lids seem to be sealed as of now, should I recan or is it safe with the air pockets as long as my lids are sealed?

As dense as apple butter is, you should not have a problem with air pockets. This occurs most often in fruit or vegetables that are cut into chunks or wedges or whole and air pockets can form between the pieces. You shouldn't have to re-can your apple butter..

I am new to canning this year. I canned my first batch of tomatoes last night. I also used Ball. Out of 5 only 3 sealed. It may also have been a lack of experience though. It sounds like you all can so many things. Do you post recipes on here anywhere. I've been looking for some good canning recipes but haven't been able to find them anywhere.
Thanks, Tammy

I just canned 8 jars of salsa for the first time. I heard only 3 pings; however, all he seals appear to be somewhat flattened. While the middle of the dimple is down, I can still see a slight ring around the outside of the dimple. The lid is not entirely flat. Does that mean the jars didn't seal? And, do I wait until the jars are completely cooled to re-can, or do I put them in the water bath right away?

Has anyone tried canning salsa using cold pack canning? I tried it (using Ball lids)...uncooked salsa in hot, hot jars and turning upside down - none sealed (I only did a few jars since I am a new canner).....we put them in a hot bath for a few minutes and they sealed....are they safe to store on the shelf or should we freeze them?

Last year I canned about 20 quart jars of pearsauce. Only to have most of the lids not seal. I threw out alot of the pearsauce, and just sick of all the wasted time, money, and hard work. I have been canning for 30 + years, and I have never had such failure with lids. I never thought about it being a issue with Ball.

I made salsa 5 days ago and I thought the lids were sealed. Today I checked them and most of them were not. Do I throw the salsa away?

I canned 30 jars of dill pickles and am down to only 9!! The lids sealed and then over the corse of a few weeks have unsealed, what a dissapointment, and waste of money and time. I sent a complaint to the company, wondering if this is happening to other people, and after looking online, it seems it is. I have been making pickles for 8 years, only having these issues the last 2. Needless to say, is there another brand of lids i can try????

I read above that some of you have recanned your olds that did not seal. I canned 12 jars of hamburger and 6 did not seal. Can I recan them? If so, do I use the pressure canner and do the same poundage for the same amount of time?


I am sorry to hear everyone is having this problem however at least know it is not just me! Had started to wonder if i was losing it. Out of desperation I have gone to using freezer safe jars so that if they do not seal I can still save my food. My family may get tired of eating the same sauces and beans for a few months but not all will be lost. Most of mine that are failing are ball lids sold with kerr jars, almost all half pints. If you web search there seems to have been issue for a few years now. I have also talked other canners that said look for NOS gold lids, got lucky and found some at an old hardware stores.

Clearly, all of you fine folks know a thing or two about canning, so I'm glad to have come across this site! I fell into a great deal of Okra and thought I'd pickle it for fun. I had no idea what I was doing in the process, but it seems to have possibly gone ok. First question- I filled the jar with brine until the okra was covered, and brine was and inch from the tip-top (saw that online), however- now the okra is floating above the brine and I'm worried I've done it wrong. Have I? Also, I have one can that the seal that hasn't "sealed" yet. I know I shouldn't have, but I pushed down on the lid and it popped back up. They have only been cooling for a couple of hours- did I just mess it up, and if so- is there anyway to reseal it now other than to wait and use a new lid and ring? Grrr! Any suggestions or advice would be SO, SO helpful! I'd surely like to master it, eventually!

I canned 6 and 1/2 quarts of apple pie filling using Ball lids/rings. None of them sealed!! This is my second year and last year I had no problems. Yesterday, I also canned apple pie filling and had the same thing happen. I put hot tap water in the sink and set the jars in it, but not covering them. I had to go to work and left them in the sink of hot water. When I returned,5 hours later, 4 of the jars had sealed. I attempted to reheat the contents of the remaining jars, which sort of turned to mush! It amounted to about 1 and 1/2 jars after I boiled it. I did use it to make apple crisp and it tasted good, but was a little runny. I'm not sure how long it took before they sealed, but today so far only 1 jar has sealed after the hot water bath and then soaking it in the hot water in the sink because they didn't seal!! Anybody have suggestions???

I see a lot of comments about the lids on jars not sealing. I talked to the Ball company yesterday. There are new directions for using the lids. Ball and Kerr are the same company now. I would encourage anyone who is having trouble with the lids not sealing to call the Ball company and ask them to mail the new directions to you. If I understand correctly, all lids are to simmer (180 degrees, BUT do NOT let the lids BOIL) for 10 minutes before putting on the jars. I made the mistake of boiling my lids and screwing the bands on too tight so my 4 new Ball lids all buckled and yet all 8 of my older unused Kerr lids did seal correctly. The Ball representative told me that the USDA guidliness made them remove the latex from the part of the lids where the seal is. Now they have something that sounded like Plastic Sol that they use. SO, the lids must be simmered 10 minutes, not just washed and not boiled or you won't get a "true seal." Call the company and see what they tell you at 800-240-3340 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. M-F EST. Also tell them if you have had any problem with lids not sealing because they are not hearing about this from people AND I wish they would get the NEW DIRECTIONS out in their new packages of lids.

I am only having problems with the lids not sealing when I do quarts in a waterbath canner.
If I use my pressuer cooker, I hardly ever have failed seals.

Just did a batch of applesauce and none of the jars sealed. Ugh!

I just found 12 jars that didn't seal, I swear when I wiped them down they were sealed, went to put them away and my hand hit a lid and it went flying across the kitchen.... NEVER had this problem before, my question is, do I dump it or try and recan it it? the jars have been covered and in a cool place..I just think of all the time and money wasted if this is how canning is going to be...


Ugh, that's maddening. The way food can spoil, I would not trust it, if it has been sitting unsealed for any length of time.

Someone told me that I cannot use my ATLAS Mason jars (that I saved from Classico Spaghetti sauce that I bought from the store) for re-canning. I know I can't use the lids, as they are just all one piece, but can't I use the glass jars?

I have canned in glass jars from the store. As long as you have a lid that fits and get a good seal when you can, it's perfectly fine!

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