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With canning season approaching it's time to haul out the jars and get them clean. I'd like to say my jars were all nicely cleaned after being used, but it's not always what happens.

Even if cleaned well though, you sometimes open a jar and can tell what was in there before based on how it smells. Saurkraut, pickled carrots, salmon or whatever it might be. It's still in there, smelling up the jar, and it might be a problem for your new project.

So I wanted to share a simple trick I use as part of my sanitisation efforts when cleaning jars.

To give this a try, you will need:

  • (smelly) jars with lids
  • coarse sea salt (the more coarse the better)
  • baking soda (optional - for the stubborn smelly jars)
  • warm water
  • energy and enthusiasm!

Step 1: Shake the Stink Away

  1. Finish all the smelly (and often delicious) things in your jar like coffeem for example
  2. Next, give it a good rinse and make sure it is free of stuck on food particles
  3. Inspect your jar for evidence of any cracks or chips to the glass
  4. Put about 1 TBSP of coarse salt in your jar
  5. Add approximately an 1/2 inch of water in the jar
  6. Put the lid on
  7. Shake vigorously for about 30 seconds (this should allow the course salt to do a good job of both being abrasive to the inside of the jar while helping absorb odours).
  8. Wash your jar as you normally would with warm water and soap (and jar sanitiser as preferred)
  9. Dry
  10. Give it another sniff and ensure it worked.

Most of the time that does the trick. Though, depending on what was in the jar previously, and how long ago it was used, it might need a little extra attention. The next step helps those 'problem jars'.

Step 2: For Those Extra Stubborn Jars

If you use the salt technique and the jar is still stinky, here are some suggestions.

  1. Put more coarse salt in the jar and use a sponge (or dish scrubber) to rub the salt into the inside of the jar. (Getting your hands in there can sometimes be tricky - maybe try a wooden spoon as an extension of your hand)
  2. Next, add baking soda to the jar (with or without the salt) and give it a further scrub ensuring all areas are reached (on the inside as well as the threads of the lid too).
  3. Allow the jar to sit for a few minutes with the baking soda.
  4. Then, pour very hot (boiling) water into the jar and just allow it to sit for about another few minutes (with salt and baking soda). After about 10 minutes, put a lid on, shake vigorously. Rinse and give it another smell.

I've never met a jar that couldn't be cleaned - with the exception of those with cracks or chips which may be harbouring bacteria or smells. Those chipped ones are not good to use for canning because they might burst under heat. The may however, be suitable for holding dry goods like tea, coffee, rice etc.

I hope you find this helpful and wish you a bountiful canning season!

Another good tip for jar cleaning types. Leave a sheet of paper towel in the jar and out the lid on. That will remove odours and all dampness.
<p>Removing the smell of pickles and relish or mustard will be a real test of this method. Hope to try this one day when I think of it in the kitchen.</p>
<p>Ah, this looks usefull I like using mason jars, thanks for the idea!</p>

About This Instructable

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Bio: I like to experiment in the kitchen, challenging myself to create tasty, healthy, fast, gluten/dairy and mainly sugar free concoctions.
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