I realized it when I got excited about buying these:
These are Weck canning jars. They are made by a German company, and until recently, were exceptionally hard to find in the United States. (They're still hard to find, just not exceptionally hard to find.)
Although they make for a fun and novel way to can, the reason I bought them is because I am constantly looking for ways to further reduce my exposure to nasty chemicals. I was horrified to read that traditional two-piece lids for canning, such as those most commonly made by Ball and Kerr are coated on the underside with BPA. Yikes! And here I was trying to be a conscientious eater by putting up locally-grown fruit and veg for the winter.
After reading about that, I immediately began to search out a better way to can. Without chemicals. I found these jars, and not only are they bpa-free, they are really pretty, too. I ordered some and gave them a try this past Sunday afternoon.
My pretties: Freshly canned tomatoes cooling
Here's a close up with the "tongue" pointing down.
Here's the take-away.
- Like I said, they are pretty and bpa-free. Big plus for that.
- They are of course, reuseable, like traditional jars. (The only recommendation is that each time you can, you use new gaskets. Although, some sites on the internet suggest that you can reuse the gaskets. The cost of a new set of gaskets is comparable to a box of tradtional lids.)
- I could only fit 5 of this shape (tulip) and size (1 liter) in my canner. I prepared 6. So now, the extra jar is in my fridge waiting to be used in the very near future.
- I am paranoid about canning safety (Thank you, WVU Extension service for scaring the hell out of me when it comes to canning safety). I was a little worried with this batch, mostly because canning this way was new to me. Because the lids are glass, you don't get the familiar "ping" as they seal. Instead you need to look for the gasket's "tongue" pointing down slightly, and do the pick-up test, where you very carefully pick up the jar by the lid to see if it sealed. Also, they are slightly larger than a quart (33.8 ounces), so I presume you have to account for a slightly longer canning time to ensure the jars reach the correct temperature.
- Not as easily found. I can get Ball brand jars at my local grocery store, I had to order these online.
To open these jars, I'm told you just pull on the tab until the seal is broken. I guess I'll have to wait and see how that works.
While I don't plan on rushing out to replace all my jars at once, I'll slowly phase more of these in as I get new jars. I'll just make sure I can fit more than 5 in a canner at one time. There are a number of shapes and sizes to choose from. I mostly can pints, anyway, because that is what we use. I ordered these from Kaufmann Mercantile's website. You get free shipping on orders of $25 or more, and you get $7 off your first order if you sign up for their email.
Also, here is a link to a great how-to for canning with Weck jars. It's not terribly different from canning with tradtional two-piece lids, but there are a few caveats, and this article explains it better than I could ever hope to, including how to tell if you have a good seal.