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Canning 101: Extending the Life of Open Jars
One of the dangers of doing as much preserving as I do is the number of open jars that are constantly in the fridge (jars from brunches, from tasting events and those jars holding the overflow from recent projects). No matter how much I use, there’s always a fresh flow of jam, fruit butter, chutney and pickled things rushing in to fill the void. Because I can only eat so much on a daily basis, part of my refrigerator management is making sure that I’m taking steps to extend the lifespan of my preserves.

Now, for those of you who live in bustling households where a jar of jam empties in a day, you might not be particularly concerned about this issue, but for those of us with small households (and partners who aren’t interested in anything having to do with fruit), preventing spoilage is a real concern. Here are a few things that you can do to keep mold and other funks at bay.

Use clean utensils. This might sound obvious, but often, the temptation to dip into the jam jar with a buttery knife is there. Using clean knives and spoons every time you go for a dollop will keep foreign bodies out of your preserves and keep them fresher longer. 
Keep jars tightly closed. This is particularly true if you’re keeping fermented foods in your fridge. If things aren’t sealed well, you run the risk of having the fermentation bacteria leap from sourdough starter to jam. Not good.
Label the jars with the date that you open them. This keeps you aware of just how long the jar has been opened and will remind you that the jar of peach jam from last summer should be finished before the more recently opened jar of cranberry jelly.
Wash off dried, gloopy jam from the lid. I don’t have any scientific evidence here, but I have found that when I wash the lid of the jar, the preserve lasts longer. Less medium for the mold to grow, I think.
Eat the fruit butters first. Sugar is a preservative. Because fruit butters typically have less of it, they just don’t last as long once opened. The same goes for preserves sweetened with honey. Eat them first.
Consider canning in smaller jars. If you’re finding that you’re losing much of your preserves to mold, consider using smaller jars. This will mean that you’ll have less open in the fridge at any one time and so will be able to move through it at a more timely clip.

Do you have any other tips for extending the lifespan of your open jars?
Related Posts:

Canning 101: Tips For Making Good Marmalade
Canning 101: Allow Your Process to Evolve
Canning 101: How to Use One Piece Lids
canning_101  extending_lifespan  open_jars  GR-starred  from google
february 2013 by lacurieuse
Canning 101: How to Use Pint & Half Jars
As I mentioned a couple weeks back, Ball has brought the 24 ounce jar back into production after years of unavailability. I’m quite pleased, as this size and shape jar has been one of my favorites ever since I picked one up in a thrift store some years back.

Since posting about these pint and half jars, I’ve gotten a slew of questions about them and so I thought I’d dedicate a post to the ways in which you can incorporate these jars into your kitchen and canning routine.

These are a few of the vintage versions of the Pint & Half.

First off, a couple details about these jars. Unlike most canning jars, they come packed in cases of nine. Even though it says so plainly on the package and it’s obvious from the promotional pictures that that’s how they’re sold, for some reason it took me by surprise when I first saw them in person.

They’re clearly printed with cup measurements and even a fill line if you plan on using them for freezing. Just so you know, this size jar is excellent for freezing, because they don’t have shoulders. When the contents of the jar expand in the freezer, there’s no danger of the rising liquid pushing up against the glass and causing breakage.

I use this size jar for all manner of kitchen jobs. From left to right, I’ve got Blood Orange Shrub, my sourdough starter, cashews, a cup of tea, a manual coffee grinder and the last of my dehydrated tomatoes from the freezer.

As far as canning in these jars goes, the rule of thumb is to process these 24 ounce jars as you would quarts. No halving the time or any tricky calculations necessary. Since receiving my two cases*, I’ve used them for a couple of pickling projects and couldn’t be happier with the results. My dilly carrots and pickled asparagus have plenty of space to stand up tall (and they look pretty nice to boot).

They’re also good for things like pasta sauce (when a pint isn’t quite enough and a quart is too much), soup (preserved in the pressure canner) and pie filling.

When it comes to sourcing these jars, I’ve been told by Ball that Ace Hardware, True Value and Do It Best Hardware Store will all be carrying them, though they’re not listed on any of their websites as of yet. I’ve also heard from a Wegmans employee that they’ll be carrying them in their stores as well.

If you can’t find them in your area, the best thing to do is to find a local hardware store and ask if they’ll include them in their next order.

How do you plan on using these jars in your kitchen this summer?

*Disclosure: I bought two cases of these jars with my own money. However, Ball also sent me a few of these jars for review purposes. My opinions remain my own and I was not compensated for this post. 
Related Posts:

The Wide Mouth Pint & Half Jars Are Back!
Home Canning Discovery Kit Giveaway
A happy jar encounter + giveaway
Canning_101  24_ounce_jars  ball_jars  Pint_&_Half  from google
march 2012 by lacurieuse

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