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canning question - why do my jars tip over?

  • diesel Aug 19, 2009 11:16 PM
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This is my first year canning and so far I've made a few small batches of jam, several batches of pickles, and a batch of salsa. I use a water bath canner.

I was taught to elevate the canner rack (by hooking it onto the side of the canner), place the filled jars on the rack, then lower the rack and jars into the water.

However, every time I put my filled jars into the canner rack, they tip over and end up sideways in the water. I have tried every which way to get them to sit steady on the rack, but no success. Could it be that I just have a really crappy rack? Or is there something I'm doing wrong?

If you suspect the problem lies with the rack, is there another rack you can recommend?

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  1. I put an old towel in the pot, keeps the jars from moving at all.

    1 Reply
    1. re: coll

      If the jars fall over when you lower the rack, put the rack in the canner and then put in the jars. If they fall over during processing then it sounds like you have a crappy rack. I just have the inexpensive ordinary kind that came from the farm store when I bought my canner in the 80s.

    2. you are not filling the jars full enough. they have too much air and the buoyancy is lifting them out of the holder and allowing them to fall over.

      1. Possibly too much head space, i.e. not filled up enough to keep them from floating? I don't know if this is related or not, but last time I canned some tomatoes several jars exploded during processing. I think it was too LITTLE head space, i.e. overfilled, but could there be another reason?

        1. I've noticed that my jars tip over if the rack is not full- there's too much space in between them to keep them upright. So when I do a batch that's too small for my big canner, I use a smaller pot, and improvise a rack out of the lid screw tops. Seems to do the trick- though not sure if that's your problem.

          6 Replies
          1. re: happybellynh

            Or you could use your regular rack and just put some open jars of water in the extra spaces to fill it up.

            1. re: greygarious

              Yes... but that would be so easy...

              Okay, I didn't think of it. :)

              1. re: greygarious

                Genuis. I think that will solve the problem. Thank you!

              2. re: happybellynh

                Bat G,

                Maybe you tightened the lids and the air could not expand?

                1. re: Zeldog

                  That might be it. It makes sense. It's hard to tell how tight to make them; I didn't want to under-tighten, either....

                  1. re: Bat Guano

                    Tighten them snug then back off 1/4 turn. That should do it. You should be able to wiggle the ring just a bit. Don't crank them tight until you take them out of the bath. You want an imperfect seal while boiling and a perfect one when you cool the jars.

              3. I have the same problem with pint and half pint jars. I use a typical water bath canner that came with the standard rack inside. The rings of the rack are just spaced too far apart to hold small jars upright properly so I load it with the rack in the water using a jar lifter to place them. They still tilt back against the side of the canner but process just fine. I know they're filled properly so I don't think it's air space. I made a rack out of canning jar rings held together with zip ties for my big Le Creuset dutch oven when I'm doing squat half pint jars in tiny loads. This works great if I'm doing 4-6 little jars as it saves time and energy over heating up the giant water bath.

                1. Thanks, everyone. . . I'm pretty sure my head space is accurate, and my jars seal, so I don't think I'm tightening the lids too much. . . so it is reassuring to hear that others have the tipping problem too when using smallish jars and/or when the canning rack is not full (one of these circumstances has been present in every batch I've run so far). greygarious had the genius (and obvious too I guess but I never thought of it before) idea of putting some "dummy" jars filled with water in there to fill the empty space and keep the rest of them from tipping over. I think that'll work! I knew you could help me.