"A person cooking is a person giving: Even the simplest food is a gift."

Laurie Colwin

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Hot, sterilized jars - in 2 minutes

Half the time it’s not the recipe that turns you off making a yummy preserve, but the dreaded words, “put into hot, sterilized jars”.

“Hot, sterilized jars”?  What does it mean?  Do you have to add more work to the preserving process by boiling the jars and then sticking them in the oven upside down on sheets of newspaper to dry and keep warm?  Well, if you listen to the usual instructions, yes.  But if you listen to me, no.  Furthermore, no, no, and no, I say.

To sterilize jars (and glasses too – I keep all my odd glasses for preserves since they can be topped with those clear seals made by Vacola) my way, you’ll need to do one at a time.  But this is easy, because while you’re filling up one hot, sterilized jar, the next jar can already be sterilizing in the mikey.


Simply fill your jar with 2.5cm water.  Put it into the microwave, and nuke on high for 2 minutes.  The water will boil and the jar fill with steam.  With protected fingers, grab the jar and empty out the water.  Place it on a towel on the bench, and wait a few seconds for it to dry, which it will do all on its own.  When it’s dry, fill it with your preserve, wipe the rim, and seal.  Easy.

Now, this is important:  ON NO ACCOUNT, EVER, PLACE THE HOT STERILIZED JAR ON THE BENCH WITHOUT A TOWEL.  The bench may not feel particularly cold to you, but the difference in temperature between jar and bench is big enough to make the jar crack, or worse, burst.  This is not an urban myth!  I personally know someone who pulled a jar filled with tomato preserves out of the microwave and onto an unprotected bench, and in the resulting explosion ended up covered in scalding hot preserves and had to be rushed to hospital with serious burns.  So put towels on the bench, and let the jars cool on towels, too.


So! Whaddya reckon?