Le Parfait is perhaps best-known for its classic hinged-lid (aka bail-type” lid) jars.
The glass, hinged lids are permanently attached and re-usable indefinitely.
At the start, we’d like to note that the USDA currently recommends against this type of jar for shelf-stable home canning (more on this below.)
For that reason, Healthy Canning at the present time is recommending these jars for refrigerated and dry shelf storage only.
For shelf-stable home-canning, we recommend instead Le Parfait’s beautiful two-piece lid Mason jars, which are equally as beautiful and an absolute pleasure to work with.
Two different types of classic Le Parfait jars
There are two types of these jars:
- those with rounded shoulders known in French as “les bocaux” (singular: “le bocal”); and,
- those with straight sides, known as the “terrine” line.
The rubber rings
Each new jar comes with a rubber ring.
You buy replacement rings in bags of 10. There are different sizes of rings for different jars.
You are meant to use a fresh rubber sealing ring each time you do canning with them.
Le Parfait sells them; you can also get third-party ones such as those made by Hutchinson.
The classic kind of sealing ring has a single tab on it. Some new “easy open” ones have two tabs: to open a jar, you pull one tab up, the other down.
How the canning mechanism works
To be clear, the USDA recommends against canning with this kind of jar mechanism. We are covering the steps to be ‘intellectually thorough’ so people can at least understand what it is about; we are not advising this.
- You fill the jar with the food you are canning;
- Apply a fresh rubber seal to the underside of the jar’s lid;
- Close the lid fully and lock it closed, using the hinge’s locking mechanism;
- Heat-process the jar, then let it cool fully;
- Once the jar is completely cooled, release the locking latch;
- If you have a seal, the jar lid will stay sealed without the mechanical lock;
- You store the jar with the mechanical latch still unlocked.
- Never lock the jar; you want a true vacuum only to hold the seal;
- Before opening the jar for use, test the rubber seal to be sure it is still intact by lifting the jar by its rim.
Hinged-lid jars currently not recommended for shelf-stable home canning
For shelf-stable home-canning purposes, the USDA’s home canning division currently recommends against wire-bail type jars regardless of the manufacturer.
The objection appears to be not so much food safety as operational: do you get a good seal, is the home canner able to test the seal of the jars on the shelf to be sure the seals are holding, etc.
The authors of So Easy to Preserve, who help to form the USDA’s guidelines, write:
As long as the proper jar type, size and shape is used with properly researched canning procedures, the lid choice itself (e.g, two-piece metal, plastic or one-piece metal lids) does not affect the microbiological safety of the canning process. The issues become ease of use, success in sealing and maintenance of vacuum and food quality during storage.”1
To be clear, in the grand scheme of things, it appears they are less worried about the lid closure system a jar uses, and far more worried that “properly researched canning procedures” are used. The worry about lid systems on jars is whether you will get a jar that stays sealed next month; the worry about improper processing procedures is “will you make people very, very sick tomorrow.”
That being said, because of operational issues the recommendations in writing from the USDA’s home canning division are currently against bail-type lids:
The USDA Complete Guide says,
Jars with wire bails and glass caps make attractive antiques or storage containers for dry food ingredients but are not recommended for use in canning.2
The University of Wyoming Cooperative Extension Service says,
Jars requiring a zinc cap and jar rubber or jars requiring a glass lid, wire bail, and jar rubber have not been recommended since 1989 because there is no definitive way to determine if a vacuum seal is formed.”3
The University of Wyoming statement of “there is no definitive way to determine if a vacuum seal is formed” does not appear to make sense in the case of Le Parfait jars because, as stated above in the “how the mechanism works section”, you lift the jar by the edges of the lid to test a seal — the same way as you test a seal on a Mason jar lid. And as far as lab testing goes, to be intellectually thorough, there actually are at least a few ways that glass lid closures can be measured for vacuum strength.
That being said, Healthy Canning will not contradict a USDA recommendation so we have not reviewed the classic Le Parfait bail-type lid jars for shelf-stable home canning. We reviewed Le Parfait’s two-piece lid Mason jars instead for that purpose.
NOTE: Do not do any fermenting in these jars with the hinged-lock locked; the jars may explode.
We do, however, very highly recommend these classic bail-type jars for refrigerated and dry shelf storage.
Le Parfait’s bail-type jars are high-quality hinged-lid jars whose quality means they will still be in use decades after their knock-off competitors have gone to the recycling bins.
NOTE: Even when using the jars for dry storage only, it could be advisable to plan on changing the rubber gaskets every so often. Otherwise, they can become “baked on”, and as they become brittle, start to chip and flake off. But because it’s also baked onto the glass, it’s a nightmare to pick off. Changing the rubber gaskets at least every couple of years should avoid this.
Caution against using Le Parfait recipes or canning procedures
Healthy Canning suggests very strongly not to use any of the Le Parfait canning recipes on their web site. Click through on the link to see why.
Use instead some of the over 2,000 tested recipes from reputable sources.
Andress, Elizabeth. So Easy to Preserve. Page 24 ↩
United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). Complete guide to home canning. Agriculture information bulletin No. 539. 2015. Page 1-10 ↩