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Boiling-Water-Bath Basics

Wash jars and two piece caps in hot, soapy water; rinse throughly. Dry bands on a towel. Put jars in a large kettle with enough water to cover; simmer to 180°. Remove from heat. Place lids in a small saucepan and cover with water; simmer to 180°. Remove from heat.

Place rack in canner. Add several inches of water; bring to a simmer. Meanwhile, prepare recipe. Ladle or pour hot mixture into hot jars, leaving the recommended amount of headspace for expansion during processing.

Wipe threads and rim of jar with clean damp cloth. Place warm lids on jars with sealing compound next to the glass. Screw band onto the jars just until resistance is met.

Immediately after filling each jar, use a jar lifter to place the jar onto the rack in the canner, making sure the jars are not touching. Lower rack when filled. If necessary, add enough boiling water to canner to cover jar lids by 1 to 2 in. Cover canner with its lid. Adjust heat to hold a steady rolling boil. Start counting the processing time when the water returns to a boil. If the water level decreases while processing, add additional boiling water.

When the processing time has ended, remove jar lifter. Stand upright on a towel, out of drafts, leaving 1 to 2 in. of space around each jar. After 12 to 24 hours, test each of the lids to determine if they have sealed by pressing the center of the lid. If it is concave (indented), remove the band and try to lift the lid. If lid is secure, the jar is vacuum-sealed. Wipe jars to remove any food. Label and date jars.