Tight Canning Lids, What is finger tight anyway?!

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So our canning question today is about tight canning lids, specifically the lids and the screw bands. How tight should your canning lids be before canning?

Do you ever hear someone say “finger tight” then wonder just what does that mean anyway??? Here is a video demonstration.

How Tight Should Canning Lids Be

Video Transcript – Edited for Clarity

This is regarding how to put your canning jar lids on the jar before you process it.

What I have here is a jar of pickled peppers, and it’s already been processed, but I’m going to use it just to demonstrate getting that screw band on the jar.

You want the canning lid to be on your jar securely in the canner, but you don’t want to crank it down so tight that the lid cannot vent. As the jar is heating up in the canner, it’s going to vent out underneath that lid. Oxygen is expelled from the jar. Then after the canning process, as the jar cools, the contents are going to shrink. That’s what sucks the lid down and causes the seal. That jar needs to be snug, but not overly snug.

How I like to tighten my jars “finger tight”

I like to set my jar on the counter, put one finger in the middle of the jar, and use the other hand to put the screw band on. When the jar starts turning on the counter like that, that’s when you know that it’s ready to go and the lid is just about right.

When you take that jar out of the canner after your processing time, don’t be surprised if that lid is really loose. It might even just be barely setting on there. The seal has gotten sucked down tight, and so it just made the lid loose. That’s totally normal. Don’t tighten the lid up because you may end up jarring the seal loose before it has totally cooled and sucked down tight. Take the jar out of the canner. Set it on the counter. Let it cool. Do not tighten the bands; just leave them alone.

Tight Canning Lids: What If Your Canning Lid Buckles?

This has only happened to me once. The lid along the edge here will occasionally It’ll actually crinkle up, and it just buckles.

Usually, that’s a sign that you’ve tightened your lid down too tight. There was no flex in there for that lid to be able to vent during processing. That’s a symptom of that. That just means you have it too tight. Next time, just do it a little bit lighter.

If you have a lid buckle, don’t trust that seal. It might be sealed right now, but chances are it’s not going to be real tight and it may come unsealed when it’s in storage on your shelf. I would make sure that you put those up front, maybe even just put them in your fridge so that you know to use them right away.

If your lid is on snug, not overly tight, you won’t have any issues and your jars will turn out perfect. That’s the perfect tight canning lid.

I hope that was helpful. You guys have a wonderful day, and we will see you in the next Canning Chat.

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Jar lifting tool in action, just one of the things included in a canning kit!

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Page last updated: 11/3/2020

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2 years ago

That is a great demonstration! Now I know. Thank you 🙂

2 years ago

I recently got some lids on Amazon that didn’t screw on easily. Some just wouldn’t go on at all.I am new to canning and I thought I was doing something wrong. I kept wondering how I was supposed to screw on something finger tight that was fighting back the whole time! Thanks for the video. Just a word to the wise to check your lids if you have ordered some recently.