Pop A Top
When opening a jar of your home-canned food; there are some things to watch for that help tell you that the seal (and food) is good.
Inspect the jar of food, make sure color looks right, headspace still ok, nothing looks bubbly.
Feel the lid. Press down on the top to make sure it is still sealed. Lift up on the jar using just the lid to be sure it's still attached well.
Listen carefully while you remove the lid. Make sure you hear a WHOOSH sound as it's opening. You've just broken the vacuum seal.
Smell the food. Yeah, meats and soups smell like dogfood; you get over it. All you're smelling for is spoilage. Your nose knows.
Enjoy whatever it is you have canned!
I'm a lid re-user. How to open lids without damaging them: feel for the side of the lid that hangs over the lip of the jar. (Very rarely does a jar seal with the lid perfectly centered.) Place the flat side of a butter knife across that side of the lid. Take the curved side (not pointy) of a church key** and fix the lifting hook under the overhang of the lid. Lift up on the church key while at the same time pushing down onto the blade of the knife with the curved edge of the church key. This should remove the lid without damaging it. I have had some wide mouth lids that were sealed so tightly that still bent a little. I just tossed those lids. Can't win them all!
FYI, as I searched online for a photo of what I call a church key, I found the one pictured and they call this a bottle opener. Mine has been through the mill and isn't photogenic anymore.
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