We’ve covered the basics and its time to use your canning jar sets. But first, a recap is always wise: your list of necessary items for canning with all glass Gem and Jewel sets should include the following:
- Blemish free Gem or Jewel jars
- Blemish free glass 78mm lids
- Vintage or new metal 78 mm screw on bands
- New fruit jar rubber rings
If you have followed the previous steps, everything should be inspected, scrubbed, sterilized and ready to be filled with food!
I’m excited to open a new doorway for you! Want to feel self-sufficient? Removing a jar of food from the pantry or cold room with a reusable glass lid and a reusable old-fashioned rubber ring will do just that! I love it! And prepared as I know you are, we still need to chat about a few things before stuffing our jars with food!
Is it Safe to Pressure Can with All Glass?
I wouldn’t recommend using your vintage jars and lids for pressure canning! Whether or not they were designed to withstand such force is debatable. A collection is a treasure that ought to be kept safe! I’d recommend that you use them only for waterbath canning and acidic foods such as fruits, fruit juices, pickled vegetables and tomatoes. They are wonderful for fermenting and making tinctures.
Is Canning with a 3-Piece Lid Food Safe?
If you have done your homework properly, there is nothing to be afraid of! And if you are comfortable using the Tattler lid, there is no reason in the world to be afraid of canning with a glass lid! Plus, they are easier to use: with the rubber designed to fit on the underside of the glass, it remains securer than the loose rubber seal of the 3 piece Tattler.
Differences In Jar Height
Most of these vintage jars (yes, the actual jars) are taller than our modern day sizes. Your waterbath canner will almost be overflowing and always takes some adjusting to make certain the jars are covered and the water is not bubbling over.
I usually add 1/2-1 inch to the recommended head space when canning thick sauces. Its important to keep the food line lower! Error on the side of under-filling, rather than over-filling these jars. With two places for sauce to get in and mess with the seal, (as with tattler lids) the risk is higher!
If you have ever used Tattler lids, you know the procedure already!
- Sterilize the jars and pre-heat if needed
- Fit a rubber ring on the underside of each glass lid and set in a pot of water to simmer for 10 minutes. These lids stack nicely!
- Prepare the goods you are preserving according to the recipe’s instructions
- Placing a funnel at the jar’s mouth, ladle goods into jar
- Leave the headspace required in the recipe! With any 3 part lid, its best to error on the side of caution: under-fill rather than over-fill!
- Wipe the rim of jar to remove anything that would hinder a seal
- Remove lid (with the rubber seal still attached) from the pot of hot water
- Set on jar’s mouth as you would a tin lid
- Tighten the metal band down approx 1/8 inch past the natural resistance point.
- Pop into your watherbath canner and process according to your altitude and recipe
- Upon removing the jars from the canner, tighten the metal band down far as it will go (as you do with the tattler lid).
- Let jars sit undisturbed until they return to room temperature.
Testing the Seal
Its easy to become nervous over new canning techniques! Its simple…I promise! With our modern-day tin lids, we know to interpret a “ping” as “properly sealed.” With vintage lids, there are five signs that indicate a good seal.
- If you are preserving food in a syrup or brine, look for bubbles immediately after removing the jar from your canner. If bubbles are actively rising upward, its an indicator of a good seal. If liquid is still, the jar may not seal.
- When a jar does seal, it will pull the lid downward, leaving the metal band in its original place. When the time comes to remove it, you may discover that some are wiggly and loose! Its another indicator.
- If bands are difficult to actually screw off, its also a positive thing! The rubber and lid usually shift to one side under the pressure of a solid seal. Don’t be alarmed! A careful inspection will reveal that your tin lids do the same. Being thinner, their shifting is less noticeable.
- After removing the metal band, inspect the glass lid with the eye. If slightly shifted to one side (hence the difficulty in remove the band), your jar has probably sealed.
- The true and final test that should always be applied to every jar? Lift the jar by its glass lid! Don’t lift higher than 1 inch off the table. If seal has taken, the jar will come with the lid. If not, the lid will cleanly pop off.
Never store your jars with their metal band! Longer ago, women were advised to do just this. The theory was that it helped hold the seal. However, we know differently today! When canning with vintage sets, its wise to check the seal throughout the first week. In order to do this, the bands must be removed.
After placing my freshly sealed jars in the cold room, I pop down a few times in the first week and quickly do the lifting test to newly canned goods. If something is going to let go, it’ll probably happen in that first week and, if I’m checking jars every other day, I’ll catch a broken seal before fruits or pickles spoil…which is another reason I love storing my canned goods in my cold room!
How many seals let go? Very few! The only problems I had was when I overfilled the jars and (of course) when I was just figuring it out. Tightening down the metal bands after removing from the waterbath is crucial to a good seal!
Opening a Sealed Jar
You might think this is simple…but it actually isn’t! The seal on these vintage jars is incredibly strong! Insert a butter knife between the rubber and the glass lid. Don’t attempt to break the seal between the rubber and jar’s mouth because the jar’s rim may chip under the force. Wiggle the knife in until it hits the concave glass on the understand of lid. Gently tip the knife’s end downward. The seal will gently give way. Before you wash dinner’s dishes, be certain to inspect both the lid and the seal. If they are blemish-free, hand wash both and save for next year’s canning!
Four Positives to Using Gem & Jewel Canning Sets
I regularly purchase vintage Gem/Jewel jars for $6 per dozen. I can purchase glass lids with metal bands for $2.00 per dozen. Sometimes the reusable rubber seals are included. If not, I can find 1 dozen at my local hardware store for $2.19! How does $10.19 sound for a re-usable canning set?
I have to pay $15.00 for locally purchased wide-mouth jars with lids and bands. Its not cheap! Once I have wide mouth jars, purchasing new tin lids every year costs me $5 a dozen. With 145 wide mouth jars to fill, I pay out just over $60 each spring in wide-mouth lids alone. The longer I process my own food, the better re-usable lids and rubbers sound!
Everything used in vintage canning is reusable. How long you can safely reuse the rubber seals, I’m not yet certain! I suspect it would be at least several years. The Tattler website (reusablcanninglids.com) claims theirs will last for ‘several seals’ (click link for further reading). According to their calculations, rubber seals can be reused until they stretch out of shape! Of course, glass lids may wear rubber down quicker than their plastic lids. Who knows?! But either way, these rubber seals will give you more than one time use!
An Available Backup
If you need a backup (you’ve collected more jars than glass lids), local Canadian hardware stores still carries the tin lid (thanks to the homesteaders!) and the metal bands are still in production as well.
If the production of rubber seals for glass canning lids ceases (remember, these jars and lids are an abnormal size), you’ll have a lovely vintage set whose value will only increase as the years go by. Sell or wait…either way, they will make a return profit for you! American homesteaders go crazy over them!
Costs to Account For
- It will take time to sort out supplies and decide which are defected. I had a Jewel lid that looked fine but was just too worn down to seal properly. After two canning attempts, I set it aside for storing dried good or ferments.
- The battle of the metal bands: sometimes the old bands are warped and don’t go on/off easily! For practicality’s sake, buying new ones designed for use on tin lids is a great idea.
- Cleaning time: while most of these jars aren’t in bad condition, the lids are usually the dirtiest! It takes time to remove grease or grime from them!
- Some day the rubber seals may go out of production…although considering the history we both know, it seems Canadians are quite set on keeping the Gem supplies around!
- You will be juggling another size of canning band and, if you purchase tin lids, another set of those! It pays to be organized when canning vintage style!
- The lids are more difficult to remove than the tin or tattler variety on account of their being glass.
“So is it worth your time to collect, clean, inspect and water-bath can in these lovely vintage sets?!” For my home and resources, I give it my best yes…with a quart jar of peaches in one hand and a pint of pear preserves in the other!