Sterilising Jars (The Easy Way)

Source & History

I found this in one of Doug’s recipes for pickles and thought it might be useful if anyone wanted to make jams or pickles or chutneys and needed sterile jars. Don’t forget to include the lids in this process.

So this is what you do:

  1. Wash the jars (and their lids) in hot soapy water. Rinse well & dry.
  2. Put the jars (and their lids) on a wooden cutting board, right side up, and put the board into an oven heated to 110°C and leave it in there for 15-20 minutes. Make sure that the jars do not touch each other or breakage will be a very real possibility.
  3. Turn off the oven and leave the jars in there until you need them.
  4. Remove the jars, keeping them on the wooden board and not touching each other, when it is time to fill them.


I had some problems with breakage using the original method described above (I have since modified it to make it better) – this is what the Women’s Weekly jam cookbook says:

  1. Put jars and lids through the hottest cycle of a dishwasher without detergent, OR
  2. Lie jars down in a boiler with lids, cover them with cold water and bring to the boil over a high heat and boil the jars for 20 minutes, OR
  3. Stand jars upright, without touching each other, on a wooden board on the lowest shelf in the oven, place the lids in too. Turn the oven to the lowest possible temperature, close the oven door and leave the jars to heat through for 30 minutes.

Next, remove jars and lids from the oven or dishwasher with a towel, or from the boiling water with tongs and rubber-gloved hands; water will evaporate from hot wet jars quite quickly. Stand jars upright and not touching each other on a wooden board, or bench covered with a tea towel. (I’m not sure if the bench or the jars should be covered with the tea towel. I think the bench because there was no comma).


I asked Grandma what she did and she said that she puts the jars and lids in the microwave with a jar without a lid and half-filled with water. She microwaves them on high for 3min. This might explain why she prefers jars with plastic lids!


After a number of failed attempts at making mustard pickles (a return visit to Grandma for an in-home demonstration is required), I have become better at the sterilising of jars part. I follow the instructions for sterilising the jars in the oven and sterilise the lids separately boiling them in a pot of water on the stove-top for 10 minutes.


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2 thoughts on “Sterilising Jars (The Easy Way)

  1. Karen says:

    To prevent contamination and lengthen the shelf life of homemade jams, preserves and sauces, it’s important to sterilise storage jars or bottles. Step 1: Preheat oven to 110

  2. Carol says:

    As someone old enough to remember boiling baby bottles to sterilise them I thought this hints may be useful.

    When using boiling to sterilise bottles you must also make sure there are no air bubbles in the jars as these prevent some surfaces from being sterilised.

    To remove air bubbles, lower bottles into the water at an angle. If you see any bubbles then gently tip the neck of the bottle up and down into the water until there are no more bubbles.

    I would also suggest bringing the water to a boil then lowering the heat to a fast simmer (lots of small bubbles) as maintaining a rolling boil increases risk of breakages. Keep an eye on the water level and add more boiling water as needed.

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