Lid Selection, Preparation, and Use
The common self-sealing lid consists of a flat metal lid held in place by a metal screw band
during processing. The flat lid is crimped around its bottom edge to form a trough, which is filled
with a colored gasket compound. When jars are processed, the lid gasket softens and flows
slightly to cover the jar-sealing surface, yet allows air to escape from the jar. The gasket then
forms an airtight seal as the jar cools. Gaskets in unused lids work well for at least 5 years from
date of manufacture. The gasket compound in older unused lids may fail to seal on jars.
Buy only the quantity of lids you will use in a year. To ensure a good seal, carefully follow the
manufacturer's directions in preparing lids for use. Examine all metal lids carefully. Do not use
old, dented, or deformed lids, or lids with gaps or other defects in the sealing gasket.
After filling jars with food, release air bubbles by inserting a flat plastic (not metal) spatula
between the food and the jar. Slowly turn the jar and move the spatula up and down to allow air
bubbles to escape. Adjust the headspace and then clean the jar rim (sealing surface) with a
dampened paper towel. Place the lid, gasket down, onto the cleaned jar-sealing surface.
Uncleaned jar-sealing surfaces may cause seal failures.
Then fit the metal screw band over the flat lid. Follow the manufacturer's guidelines enclosed with
or on the box for tightening the jar lids properly.
Do not retighten lids after processing jars. As jars cool, the contents in the jar contract, pulling
the self-sealing lid firmly against the jar to form a high vacuum.
•If rings are too loose, liquid may escape from jars during processing, and seals may fail.
•If rings are too tight, air cannot vent during processing, and food will discolor during
storage. Over tightening also may cause lids to buckle and jars to break, especially with
raw-packed, pressure-processed food.
Screw bands are not needed on stored jars. They can be removed easily after jars are cooled.
When removed, washed, dried, and stored in a dry area, screw bands may be used many times.
If left on stored jars, they become difficult to remove, often rust, and may not work properly again.