rusty racks

Krista86January 21, 2014

My friend and I are new to canning, and having some trouble with the double boiling aspect. At first we used a rack, but the calcium build up from the water eventually started flaking off the pots and racks. We used vinegar to clean them, but it seemed eventually that started making everything rust. We can several batchs a day, so we end up losing a pot and rack within a couple weeks. We tried double boiling in a regular stainless pot without a rack, and now our pots are starting to discolor. From a different forum on this site, I see we need to use a rack, but can someone explain why we can't just skip that part and just put the jars in the pot? Or is that why our pots burn?
Also, is there any other way to clean the calcium and keep them from rusting?

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You must have rusty water with a high calcium content.

You need the rack so the jars DON'T sit directly on the pan. If you place the jars directly on the bottom of the pan, the jars will break. Not all, but many more than with a rack. Jars are expensive, and you do alot of work for what's in the jars, so why would you want to loose it?

Now to the part of taking care of the rust and calcium. I also have rusty, higher calcium water. First use some vinegar IN the water that you are canning in. Not much, maybe 1/4 cup per canner, you can use the water over and over, I change mine 1x per day (unless something breaks).

Always make sure your pots and racks are DRY, that doesn't mean leave them to 'air dry'. You will need to hand dry them perfectly dry. Some rust on your pans and racks will not hurt anything. If they rust to the point that the pans are leaking, then the pan is ready to be thrown away (or recycled).

If the rust and calcium is just 'bugging' you, then rinse them in either Iron Out or CLR, both will work well. The Iron Out works better in a very rusty water situation.

These pans/pots will get rusty/limed after time, but unless they are not holding water, you can still use them for BWB.

I'm assuming that you are ONLY talking about BWB, not jelly/jam making or using them for direct fruit/vegetable content.


    Bookmark   January 22, 2014 at 9:26AM
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digdirt2(6b-7a No.Cent. AR HZ8 Sun-35)

I have some real concerns about some of the tings you say in your post.

First "new to canning" but "doing several batches a day". Batches of what food? For a new canner to just jump into doing many batches of food without knowing for sure what they are doing can be quite dangerous and often results in food that is unsafe to eat.

Second, "double boiling" means what? It is not a term used in canning. If you are referring to boiling water bath canning (aka BWB) then I hope you are only canning high acid foods and using only approved recipes.

Third, "losing a pot and rack within a couple weeks". The average canner will last for many years with no problems so something is seriously wrong with your methods or your set-up.

Fourth, as Marla said, you cannot sit the jars directly on the bottom of the pan. They must be completely surrounded by water for proper processing. Plus jars facture when exposed directly to the burner heat.

The easy way to keep the lime from building up in the canner and on the jars is to add a couple of tablespoons of vinegar to the water in the canner with each batch of fresh water. That is standard practice.

As for the rust, that is coming from your water and from not drying out the pots and racks completely when not in use.

Could you please provide us with much more details about what you are canning and how you are doing it? And please take the time to review the great resource linked below. We'd really like to help.


PS: please also tell us where you live as the resources available vary from country to country

Here is a link that might be useful: National Center for Home Food Preservation

    Bookmark   January 22, 2014 at 11:15AM
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Dave, I knew that you would address the safety issues. I know rusty and limey water, since that's what I have lived with all my life.


    Bookmark   January 22, 2014 at 11:31AM
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digdirt2(6b-7a No.Cent. AR HZ8 Sun-35)

Yeah same here - rusty and lime filled well water - even with a water softener system. I don't add our faucet water to the contents we use bottled water for that. But we do use it in the pots.


    Bookmark   January 22, 2014 at 1:02PM
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Thank you for your feed back. Dave, just to ease your concerns, we have been canning under some close supervision. We can fruit jams and jellies. We have taken over for another co-worker, and she has no advice for us with the rust. We do not add water to our product, so it is just the BWB as you called it. Our supervisor calls it double-boiling. I'm not sure why, but it's the BWB process.
The people who have contracted us out are very specific about the recipes and how the actual product is made, but they never put their finished sealed jars in a water bath. My co-worker and I have insisted on this step, as we have read quite a bit of the dangers of botulism. But since they have never done this step, they are unable to offer their help.
We have not had a jar break on us by not using the racks, however we have gone back to using them, since their seems to be no concern about the rust. We will continue to add the vinegar, since it sounds like that's not what is making our stuff rust.
I appreciate all the advice, and I am so glad to find a resource such as you experienced canners! We have been looking up a lot, but it seems there are so many different ideas- from the experienced people we are learning from to the health board.

Oh, and we are in Southern Ontario.

    Bookmark   January 23, 2014 at 2:17PM
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digdirt2(6b-7a No.Cent. AR HZ8 Sun-35)

So it sounds as if you are being taught European methods then although even they don't use the term "double boiling - don't know where that came from.. Those are very different from the guidelines we follow or even those recommended by Bernardin, the Canadian canning resource. But it is your choice of course.

Do you have to have liability insurance as we do when making products for the public are does the contractor assume all responsibility for claims?

As long as you are only doing jams and jellies and as long as they are only made with the acidic fruits then botulism isn't a concern, just molds. The low-acid fruits would be a different issue.


    Bookmark   January 23, 2014 at 4:53PM
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Do you work at a commercial copacking facility? Strange that no one has done the boiling water bath there before, strange that your supervisor calls it "double boiling". I found this link to a Canadian government website about Home canning safety and it discusses processing of acid (below 4.6) and low acid foods. Is your local health department insisting that you BWB the jams, or is it just your own initiative?

I'm aware that many countries do not have the same food processing regulations that the US does, but it looks to me like Canada is the same as the US.

If you are making these for resale you must follow all local and national regulations.

Here is a link that might be useful: Home canning in Canada

    Bookmark   January 23, 2014 at 5:31PM
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I can understand the term 'double boiling', because you are 'boiling' a jar in water plus the product inside of the jar gets boiled too. Just had never heard the term.

    Bookmark   January 23, 2014 at 6:15PM
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