Skip to Content

Do Canning Jars and Lids Go Bad?

*This post may have affiliate links, which means I may receive commissions if you choose to purchase through links I provide (at no extra cost to you). As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases. Please read my disclaimer for additional details..

Ever thought of storing a favorite vegetable or fruit? Chances are you’re thinking of using canning jars. Canning jars are not just popular, they’re very efficient. How efficient are canning jars and lids? Do they go bad? Read this article.

Do canning jars and lids go bad? Canning jars do not go bad (unless they break) and they can be reused over and over again. Lids, however, can only be used once, so be sure to properly seal the jars.

Glass canning jars

How do you use canning jars? What can you store in canning jars? Continue reading.

The Lifespan of Canning Jars and Lids

Do canning jars have a lifespan? Well, if you follow the tips in this article, you can use canning jars for a very long time. Canning jars are made of glass, they are food-safe, and they do not go bad.

Because the lids become concave after each sealing, you cannot reuse them.

How Long Do Canned Foods Last For?

Did you know that canned foods can last for years (if properly sterilized and stored)? Storing foods in canning jars not only prevents rats, roaches, and other pests from eating your food, it also prevents bacteria, fungi, and other microbes from spoiling the food.

Later in this article, we will discuss how to properly store foods in canning jars.

Reusing Canning Jars

Can you reuse canning jars? Sure. Canning jars (which are made of glass) can be used over and over again. Make sure that you wash and air-dry the jar after each use.

Reusing Lids

Sadly, you can only reuse a lid for short-term storage, such as once a jar is opened and in use, so you’ll need another one to store the next recipe or product for a long time.

Now that you know how long canning jars last, wouldn’t you love to know some tips to help you use canning jars more efficiently?

Canned and fresh tomatoes

Useful Tips for Using Canning Jars

Here are helpful tips for you:

1. Properly Seal the Jar

To properly seal canning jars, follow the steps below:

  1. Remove the lid and ring from the jar
  2. Fill the jar with what you want to store
  3. Place the jar on a folded towel or rack inside a pot
  4. Cover the jar with its lid (and ring)
  5.  Fill the pot with warm water
  6. When the water starts to boil, set your timer for 10 minutes or more (you should know how long your food or recipe can stay heated).
  7. Remove the jars from the water and place them on a towel in a cool place. Allow them to cool.

While the jars are cooling, you should hear some pinging sounds. Each ping sounds means that the lid is sealing properly.

If you feel that a jar is not properly sealed and the lid is already concave, you should not store that jar for long.

2. If Possible, Reheat Cooked Food before Storing It

Cooked foods are usually stored short-term, so there’s no need to seal the jar (just screw the ring and lid).

If you want to store cooked food in canning jars, make sure that it is properly heated. Cooked foods spoil quickly when left out because of the presence of microbes.

If you do not reheat the food before storing it, it might spoil because there are microbes present in it. To prevent your cooked food from spoiling quickly, reheat it before storing it.

Canning jars are great for storing foods long-term.

3. Keep the Jars Out of Direct Sunlight

The thing about sunlight is that it produces heat and it is not always there. When food jars are kept in direct sunlight, the temperature within the jar fluctuates and it can encourage whatever is in the jar to rot. You should store your canning jars in areas with consistent temperatures like the basement or a cupboard.

4. Only Open the Jar When You Need To

Remember that once opened, you cannot reuse the lid. Opening jars exposes their contents to the air, which can contain moisture and air-borne microbes.

A buildup of moisture and microbes can increase the rate at which foods can decompose, so you should properly seal your canning jars and do not open them until you are ready to.

5. Drier Foods Store for a Longer Time

Dry foods (i.e. foods without moisture) are best for canning jars because foods that are high in moisture can spoil quickly (due to the presence of bacteria and fungi). If you are storing grains, seeds, spices, or other items, make sure that they are dry.

clover of honey canned jar

Related Questions and Answers

Here are the answers to a few questions that you might ask:

1. What Kind of Food Can You Store in Canning Jars?

Here are examples of foods that you can store in canning jars:

  • Honey: Honey is a good example of a food that can be stored in canning jars. Honey is very low in moisture content (<18%) and has some antibacterial properties, so honey can last for a very long time. When storing honey, do not keep it in warm places.
  • Seeds and Nuts (Dry): Dry seeds and nuts are awesome ideas for canning jars, but you cannot store them for long. Make sure that they are dry because they can spoil easily if they are stored moist.
  • Smoothies: Smoothies are also great, but remember that they can easily spoil. You should store fresh smoothies and not leftover smoothies.
  • Milk and Yogurts: Canning jars are not just used to store milk, they can be used to sterilize milk (by pasteurization). Remember to store only fresh and sterilized milk because leftover milk can spoil quickly.
  • Beeswax: Beeswax is a wax from beehives that has a lot of uses. Beeswax can decompose quickly if not used or stored properly. To store beeswax with canning jars, melt the blocks of beeswax into the jar and seal it (you can even choose to store it without sealing the lid).

What will you store in your canning jars?

2. Can You Heat Food in Canning Jars?

Heating food (inside canning jars) is a great way to sterilize them. To prevent fungi and bacteria from spoiling the food, you should sterilize it. To sterilize canned foods:

  1. Insert the canning jar (containing food) in boiling water and boil for 5-10 minutes. Remember to place it on a rack or towel in the pot.
  2. Remove the jar from the water and allow it to cool.
  3. When it is cool, you can take it to wherever you want to keep it (away from direct sunlight).

Easy and cool, right? This process is similar to sealing jars, but you do not have to seal the jar (by keeping it in boiling water for over 10 minutes) if you do not want to store it for long.

3. Can you Fill Canning Jars to the Brim?

You should leave at least ½ inch when filling canning jars, especially if you want to store the item for a very long time. The ½ inch space between the content and the top of the jar will ensure that the jar does not burst nor break due to excessive heat or cold.

4. Can You Store Moist or Wet Seeds in Canning Jars?

You should not store wet or moist seeds in canning jars. If you do, the seeds will germinate and sprout. Without sufficient oxygen and light, the seedlings then die and rot. To properly store seeds, make sure that they are dry to prevent them from germinating.

If you must store wet or moist seeds, you should boil the canning jar.

5. How Do You Open Stuck Lids?

Don’t worry, you are not alone in the struggle of opening a lid that seems stuck. Here are some methods of opening canning jars:

  • Force: Use all your power to unscrew the lid. You can hold it with a rag or towel
  • Pour Hot Water Over the Seal: Hot water can expand the sealed lid and help open it.
  • Tap the Lid: You can use a spoon or little hammer to tap the lid. After several taps, the lid should be easier to open.

How will you open your lid? Were you successful?

Final Thoughts

Canning jars are awesome for storing foods and other items. Remember that when storing for a short period of time, you do not have to seal the lid with the boiling method. You just have to fasten the lid down tightly.