When you are making preserves or cordials your jars and bottles (or anything you are using) need to be sterilised to prevent anything growing and ruining your precious creation.
There are a number of ways to sterilising and I set out the 4 most common below.
Before you start sterilising by any method make sure that the jars/bottles are clean. Getting last year’s labels or commercial labels off is a bit of pain but essential. I stick my jars/bottles in soapy water, soak for 5-10 minutes and then use a metal scourer with some more washing liquid on it for any stubborn labels and all labels come off. Wash the lids too.
To ensure bottles are thoroughly clean I use cleaning beads, which can be purchased online or in department stores for around £4-£5 per pot (as at June 2019). I have had mine for years and use them for decanters, bottles, vases and anything I cannot get a cloth/scourer/brush into. They last for years and are well worth the investment.
When you have finished cleaning pour the water, with the cleaning beads, through a tea strainer to collect the beads otherwise they go everywhere. Dry the beads thoroughly and return to their jar for next time.
Time your sterilising with making whatever is going in there so that you fill your jars/bottles when they are still warm.
If you are using Kilner jars make sure you remove the rubber seals especially in the oven and do not use the microwave method due to the metal catches.
In the Oven
Turn the oven on to 140C (275F/gas mark 3) and once it reaches temperature add the jars/bottles for 20 mins. Use whilst still hot.
In the Dishwasher (my favourite method as it does 2 jobs at once and you can fit bottles in too)
Place everything into the dishwasher including the lids and seals and put on your hottest setting. Use whilst still hot.
With Hot Water
Either using a kettle pour boiling water into your jars into the sink or a bowl and leave for a 5 minutes – empty and use whilst still hot.
After washing your jars (unlikely that you will be able to get bottles into a microwave) rinse them and place the wet jars into the microwave on full power for 45 seconds or until they are dry. Use whilst still hot.