Home Canning on your agenda of things that you want to learn to do? Start off on the right foot with this list of 10 things you need to get canning.
Why Home Canning?
Now more than ever, the modern world is reverting back to the tried and true canning of the past. Canning things at home to make sure that you are well stocked on healthy, nutritious, and homegrown produce is a wonderful skill to have.
While the idea of having a cabinet full of mason jars of food may take you back to the days of watching your Grandma do it, it’s a wonderful feeling to know that you did it all yourself. Knowing that you have the means and the skill to feed your family is not only rewarding, but it’s smart.
Learning to can food at home can also save you tons of time in the kitchen later down the road. Spend the day putting up quarts of beef stew or chicken soup base. Someday you’ll be in a hurry for a nutritous dinner and be able to just heat and eat.
So How Do I Start Home Canning?
The first step to any new project or hobby is making sure you have the right supplies. This article is all about what to have in your kitchen to make sure that you learn to can and learn to do it with the proper equipment.
Water Bath Canner
Boiling water canners work well with any acidic foods. Most salsas, pasta sauces and pickled goods can be canned using just a water bath canner. These made sure to heat processed your foods, killing any potential bacteria that is present to make them safe for human consumption.
For non-acidified vegetables, such as corn, green beans, etc., the use of a pressure canner is absolutely necessary. They are readily available online or in most cooking supply stores. (My newest one actually came from Rural King.) These intimidating looking things have two very specialized parts: the locking lid and the pressure regulating device.
Contrary to what most people believe, canning in an Instant Pot is NOT a good idea. I have an entire article about this on the site. You can find out more about the Home Canning With An Instant Pot? question here.
Canning Tool Kit
While this is not absolutely necessary, I find that it makes the entire process easier to both learn and execute.
What do these kit usually contain?
- Funnel for filling regular and wide mouth canning jars
- Bubble remover for releasing trapped air bubbles
- Magnetic lid lifter removes canning lids from hot water
- Kitchen tongs for easy handling of hot foods for canning
- Jar lifter easily removes hot jars from canner Jar wrench helps to remove sticky screw bands
Once again, none of these items are required to get started. They are just in my list of things to have because over the years I’ve learned just how much of a difference they make in keeping an already intimidating process manageable.
Funnel (for filling jars)
Once again, this isn’t an absolute must-have to start canning. Having a more precise way to fill your jars without waste is just a handy thing to have around. I have both a normal plastic funnel, and I have a collapsible one. I love them both. It just makes it easier to have 2 around so that I can use them both on different canning projects without having to wash it constantly and worry about cross-contamination of my product.
Mason jars are glass jars that are the ONLY containers recommended for safe home canning. Make sure to inspect your jars before canning with them. The top of the jar must be smooth and flat, without chips. This is especially important to home canners who reuse their jars from season to season. Always make sure that the integrity of the jar is intact before filling. There is nothing worse than losing all of that wonderful food into the boiling water and not getting to eat it!
Typically when you buy a case of mason jars, they will come with the lids and rings on the jars. This is awesome for when you first start out. As you progress into your canning journey and start filling and emptying as you go, you may get to the point where you need to just buy lids.
Never reuse lids! The sealing agent around the lip is only good for one use. Also, the odds of the lid not being damaged with the opening tool is slim to none. Always purchase and use new lids with every canning jar.
Typically you can use your water bath canner as a stockpot, but how do you heat the food AND can it at the same time?
I love having a large stainless steel stockpot set aside only to use in making my canning recipes. The stainless steel is especially nice when working with any tomato-based product. It’s much easier to clean and you do not have to worry about the acid hurting the pot.
But a stoneware pot like the one about is exactly what my Mom had. I still have hers, but it’s so worn that the inside is rusted so it’s truly only sentimental and decorative at this point.
For the same reason that I love my stainless stockpot, I use stainless steel utensils when canning also. They are much more sanitary and hold less bacteria once cleaned.
One of the biggest factors in canning is cleanliness. I think stainless steel everything is the easiest to sterilize and clean. When making a high vinegar item (pickling), you don’t have to worry about the finish wearing off or anything leaching into your tools.
Having a designated space to store your home-canned goods is almost a necessity. You can build your own (like the one above from Mother Earth News) or use store-bought, industrial shelving systems. Make sure that your canning storage is in a cool, poorly lighted space. Proper storage is essential to maintain the quality of all that hard work.
Another thing on proper storage that most people overlook:
Remove the rings!
Keeping the rings intact can cause the jars, even if they fail, to reseal because of the pressure on the lid. To make sure that you always know when quality has been compromised, remove those rings before storing your jars away.
Time & Patience
I wish I could tell you where you can buy these two items, I really do. Canning is a long process most times. With making the recipe, sterilizing jars & lids, processing it, and then waiting on the Ping! on your lids to make sure that they sealed, it can easily take up an entire day.
While you are canning, remember that in the long run, when you really DO NOT have time, having these items to feed your family in a hurry will save you the time you are spending now.
The reward of knowing that you did it all yourself is also a huge factor for most people. The pride of knowing that you are capable of such a daunting task is such a motivator!
It is Worth It!
While you are going to have to take the time and money to invest in canning, it will pay you back in spades over the years. Purchasing fruits and vegetables in season and preserving them will save you tons of money. Having veggies on hand that you know exactly what all is in that jar (because home canners sure don’t use chemicals) makes you feel just a little bit better about what you are feeding your family.
It’s not easy to jump into, but I guarantee once you process that first batch of jars, you will be just as addicted to the Ping! as all of us canning junkies are.