Monday, July 26, 2010

Using bail canning jars safely in the 21st century

The home canning authorities no longer recommend using bail lid canning jars, their official ruling states that only modern bands and lids are safe. However, I'm sure that I can't be the only person on the planet who wants to use these for something more than a button jar, so here is a step by step tutorial to ensure your safety.

1. Bail jars need 3 pieces to function: the jar, the rubber gasket and the glass lid. The jar and lid must be without chips and the gasket should be free from weak spots or cracking. I buy boxes of gaskets from Kidron Town and Country store but Lehman's also sells them.

2. After jar is filled, using recommended head space, wipe any food residue from the jar and stretch the gasket over the mouth of the jar. There will be a "shelf" that the gasket rests on. Make sure that the gasket is flat and not twisted.

3. Place glass lid over gasket and put bail closure in place.

4. Process for recommended time and allow to rest on the counter for 24 hours and then check seal. To check seal you remove the bail closure and pick the jar up by the lid. The picture shows me checking the seal on a jar of blackberries. Hold the jar only an inch or two above the counter to avoid a broken jar in case it didn't seal.

I only use my bail jars for foods that are canned with the boiling water bath method, I don't use them in my pressure canner. Certain foods need to be pressure canned to kill any botulism spores, but foods canned with a water bath canner aren't prone to botulism. Food spoilage will generally unseal the lid from previously sealed jars, look funky and/or smell bad, any of these will be obvious in a regular canning jar and will be equally obvious in a bail jar. Observing proper safety measures can make using these vintage jars a rewarding experience and less like a death defying act by a crazy women who enjoys flirting with death. :-D


  1. Thank you so much! I found a box of these in the house we just bought, and was hoping they were usable. Now to learn to can...

  2. Jenny Lee, how exciting! If you buy a copy of the "Ball Blue Book" it will lead you step by step through the canning process. Let me know if you can't find jar rubbers and I will send some your way. :-D

    Mrs. G

  3. Thank you for sharing this. I have never known how the old jars/seals were used. I don't have any but it is nice to know the process if I ever have some in the future.

  4. Aww thanks! We're still getting moved into our home, but I'll see if I can't find that book at the library. Hopefully by the fall we'll be set up enough to can. :D

  5. Oh, Paris, what ever happened to the REAL life…canning with bail jars, for instance? Though I have never canned with them, I would definitely love too, and I can see why you wouldn’t have any failures. Thank you for sharing your yummy pictures with us!

  6. Thank you so much for doing this. I just processed apple pie filling in 3 jars. Tomorrow I'll test them.. Fingers crossed..If it works I have around 100 of these Jars, quart size, that my husband bought. If not I am thinking, dry wild blueberry pancake mix with the wild Maine blueberries I dehydrated this summer, and giving them as gifts.. Again thank you.. :)

    1. Lucky you to have so many jars, I know you'll treasure them as I do.
      This blog is kind of defunct, my active blog is
      Thank you for taking a moment to write me!


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