It`s the saddest sight (tongue slightly in cheek):
It was my first time breaking a jar in 19 months and it was all my fault.
The majority of broken jars stem from very few causes:
- A cracked jar
- An overstuffed jar (rare but possible)
- A cold jar hitting hot water
- Over-tightened bands
- Accidental pre-sealing (putting your seals on and leaving your product on the counter for too long before hitting the water bath can actually create an initial seal as the air cools in the jar and this preseal can prevent the escape of air later).
- Although rare, jars can break mid-cooling. This typically happens when they are set on a cold surface or a flat surface (extra water cools quicker than the jars, small pools form and cool a jar too fast).
These onions were part of a two-day process. On day one they were cut and blanched for 20 seconds. They were then salted and placed in the fridge to remove their moisture content and create a crisper pickle the next day.
On day 2 I followed typical procedure – rinse the onions, dry them, heat jars and so forth. I added the onions to the jar cold. This cooled my jar considerably and created one of two effects:
- Thermal Shock. Cracking and then breaking of glass due to rapid temperature change. If you ever need to break jars simply fill them with boiling water, put a lid on and submerge in very cold water. This is NOT recommended and dangerous but an illustration of how breakage happens.
- Cold air from the onions heated and expanded at a rate that the jar couldn`t release and shattered.
I am guessing that it was Thermal Shock that got them.
It would have been easy to avoid – I rinsed my onions in cold water, maintaining their cool temperature. Had I left them on the counter to temper or rinsed them with hot water, I would have raised their temperature and they would not have cooled the glass so considerably. A brief introduction to my brine in the pan could have also helped.
If you do get a break, here`s a few tips:
- Count to 3, try not to cry.
- Carefully remove the other jars and set aside (they are too hot to clean and a quick rinse in cold water will yield more breakage)
- Know that an exploding jar can create enough force to break others – use caution and, when cool, examine other jars closely.
- Once everything has cooled down, clean your jars extra good – their outsides are now covered in brine and a great attractor of pests (or puppies)
- I strain the entire contents into a colander. It makes things easier to dispose of. Check colander, sink and pot for any small shards that remain.
- Try to figure out what happened – use this as a learning opportunity. Once you have figured out the cause, laugh at yourself and move on for making a mistake.
At least we had more jars of yummy onions – but that`s another story down the riverbank…