Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Canning Without a Hot Water Bath

I canned a lot of food years ago and always by boiling the jars in a hot water bath.  It's the only way I remember doing it with my mother and grandmother.  I only recently learned that some foods can be canned without the hot water bath.  Imagine my surprise when I learned this is the method my mother's been using for several years.

Canning Without a Hot Water Bath Method:
  1. Run jars and rings through the dishwasher and then fill them with very hot water.
  2. Pour boiling water over the lids. 
  3. Empty the hot water from jar and fill with the hot food.
  4. Carefully place the lid and ring on the jar.
  5. Use oven mittens to hold the jar to screw the ring in place because the jars are very hot.
  6. Turn the jars upside down and allow to cool.
  7. Check the lids to make sure they don't "pop" up and down when you press the center.
  8. Refrigerate any jars without a proper seal for use within one week.
This method is only for foods that are going to be packed hot into jars after being brought to a boil.  It is not a raw pack method which is the method recommended for low acid foods.

I've had great success with this method.  I've "processed" 35 jars this way (so far) and none of the jars has failed to seal.  

This is NOT the method recommended by canning jar manufacturers.  If you are new to preserving you may want to use the hot water bath method for your first attempts.


  1. We have always canned this way and people look at me like I'm crazy for not using a hot water bath or pressure cooker. The only thing I've had trouble with is applesauce. It seals, but sometimes there is a tiny bit of mold on the top when I open the jar...not sure why. But isn't it so much faster? Also, my grandma always said to boil the lids on the stove, lightly, with a little added sugar. She said it sealed the jars better. I'm goin' with grandma!

    1. It is NOT safe to eat canned food that shows spoilage. You should use a hot water bath. You risk your and your family's health doing this.

  2. Canning with a hot water bath seems to be a U.S. thing. When I've read posts by bloggers in other countries, often they can in a way that our USDA would find unsafe.

    Me, I use the steam canner, and I haven't had a problem with it. I love using less water.

    What types of foods have you done without the canner? It looks like you have relish in the picture? Would you do pickles?

    1. Hi I do pickles, (bread and butter / dill) pepper mustard, ALL of my jams and jellies, tomato sauce, tomato juice, stewed tomatoes and any thing that has been boiled first.

  3. This is the method I learned from my grandma. I sterilize the jars in the dishwasher then while they are still hot, I set them on a tray in a warm oven, filling them with hot product like jam or chili sauce. I don't turn them upside down because if any product seeps between the rim and the lid, it can prevent the seal. As the jars cool right side up, the lids will seal. I love hearing each one "pop"! This is not the USDA approved method though. And I always hot water bath anything that is cold-packed like pickles, but I think I need to cut the recommended processing time in half. My last batch came out too "cooked".

  4. This comment has been removed by the author.

  5. Will it work for blue berry jam? I've done it for a loquat jam, recipe from It worked great they advised me to this site. Thank you!

    1. I know this is months after your post, but a coworker just canned his blueberry jam using a method quite similar to this. He said this is the way he always does it with excellent results!!

  6. Hmmm....doesn't the hot water bath also have the added benefit of evacuating oxygen which can cause off-flavors and spoilage and killing any bacteria that may have entered between the rinsing and filling?

    I'll stick with boiling water.

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  8. Sealing is not the problem when using this method. But completing killing bactetia and spores is. Spoilage is not always visibly evident. There must be a reason the USDA recommends using a hot water bath!

  9. Just wondering why you think experienced canners can get away with this but newbies should used the hot water bath method.

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  12. I'm trying this method as I don't have a pressure cooker or canner or even a pot tall enough for me to submerge my jars. I got given a box full of tomatoes, so am trying out some tomato chutneys and sauce!


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