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    Canning Supplies

    Authored by Carol J. Alexander

    Your kitchen counters groan under the weight of vine-ripe tomatoes, and you can practically smell the rich goodness of home-canned sauce. You’ve read everything there is to know about canning, and you’re mentally ready to put this knowledge into practice. But, to preserve the fruit of your hard labor, you need the right tools and supplies. While you can fudge on a couple of the items, everything listed here will make the job easier and safer.

    Choose your canning method

    First, choose which method of canning you’ll use. Two methods you will see are water bath canning and pressure canning. 

    Water bath canning

    You’ll need a water bath canner for high-acid foods like fruits, acidified tomatoes, and pickles. A water bath canner is nothing more than a large pot that holds seven quart-size jars under water.

    To process fruit and acidified tomatoes in a water bath canner, follow these instructions.

    Pressure canning

    Low-acid foods like vegetables and meats require the use of a pressure canner. A pressure canner uses less water than a water bath canner to create a pressurized compartment with higher temperatures than a boiling water bath. 

    To process low-acid foods in a pressure canner, follow these instructions.

    Both types of canners come with racks to support the jars. The rack separates the jars from the heat source to prevent them from breaking.

    Other canning supplies

    There are a variety of appliances and canning supplies to make home canning more efficient. In addition to a canner and rack, you’ll need the following items.

    Jars and lids

    Only use canning jars and lids created for home canning. They are specially made to withstand the rigors of the canning process.

    Canning funnel

    A canning funnel has a large mouth to accommodate the food you’ll spoon into the jar. Using one helps you avoid spills and messes.

    Large spoon or ladle

    Use a large spoon or ladle to spoon food into the jars.

    Chopstick or plastic knife

    After filling the jars, you’ll run this around the inside to encourage air bubbles to rise to the surface.

    Oven gloves

    Pot holders and oven mitts are awkward when handling hot jars. Seasoned canners recommend oven gloves that are thick enough to prevent burns yet have the fingers separated for a better grip.

    Canning jar lifter

    A style of tongs, a canning jar lifter fits around the neck of the jar for a secure hold. It’s also rubber coated to prevent slipping. You’ll use it to remove the hot jars from the canner.

    Timer

    Canning recipes include a processing time. If you don’t already have a kitchen timer, you’ll need one for canning.

    Can I use upcycled jars for canning

    Upcycled pickle and mayonnaise jars are not reliable. Also, canning jars come in sizes ranging from a ¼-pint to ½-gallon. Use lids and bands that match the size of the jar’s mouth. Canning lids are designed with a rubber seal to ensure freshness for up to 18 months. Canning jars and bands are reusable, but the flat lids are not.


    Canning on a budget

    You can make do with what you have until you’re sure you want to add canning to your lifestyle. Here are a few tips for the frugal homesteader who wants to give it a go before investing in a lot of equipment.

    • You can use a large stock pot and lid to water bath can. Just ensure the pot is deep enough for an inch of water to cover the jars, sitting on a rack, without boiling over. 
    • Create a makeshift rack with a few jar rings. Twist-tie them together and lay them in the bottom of the pot. 
    • Regular salad tongs don’t have enough gripping surface to substitute for a jar lifter. However, without a jar lifter, you can remove enough water from the canner using a ladle or measuring cup and then lift the jars with a gloved hand.
    • Invite a friend to teach you, use their equipment, or borrow what you need.
    • You can save a bit of money on the little tools by purchasing them in a canning kit

    Is canning expensive

    Buying a canner is a significant investment. If your first thought is to buy one used, safety is your first concern. Here are a few things to check for when buying a second-hand canner.

    • Each season, have the gauge on a pressure canner tested for accuracy by an Extension Service agent or your local hardware store. If you buy a used pressure canner, have it tested before using it. 
    • The seal on some pressure canners wears out. To test the seal, run the canner with a few jars of water. If it leaks (as evidenced by escaping steam and the canner not coming up to pressure), order a new one.
    • The thin metal and enamel coating of a water bath canner takes a lot of abuse. So before purchasing one second-hand, hold it up to the light and look for pin holes or cracks that could leak.

    Find everything you need to preserve your harvest. Review our latest canning equipment catalog so you can stock your kitchen with all the necessary supplies for putting food by to enjoy with friends and family.