Canning is an economical way to preserve fresh quality foods at home while retaining its important vitamins and nutrients. Home canning also offers you complete control over the quality of ingredients that go into your foods.
THE MUST-HAVE SUPPLIES FOR HOME CANNING
Thanks to the current home canning equipment, kitchen utensils, and small appliances, canning has become an easier, safer, and more time-efficient process. Like anything, there are a lot of great gadgets to make the canning process faster and easier. However, in this post, I’m going to only cover the “must-have” items.
Canning jars, often called mason jars, are the only containers recommended for safe home canning. They come in several standard sizes, including quart, pint, a half-pint, and 4 oz.
The size you choose will depend on what you’re canning and how much you’ll need to use at one time. You’ll also have a choice of two sizes of the opening at the top of the jar–regular or wide mouth.
You can use either type of opening for any canning recipe; the main difference is how easy it is to transfer food in and out of the jar. I like to use wide-mouth jars because I can easily get out any ingredient, washing by hand is easy if I need to and instead of having to have two different sizes or rings and lids, I only need one.
You can easily find canning jars at most grocery stores, big box stores, and even Amazon.
Remember never reuse jars that were not intended for home canning.
RINGS AND LIDS
Canning lids are in two pieces, the ring, and the lid. Rings can be used over and over but the lid can only be used once. Replacement lids can be purchased with or without extra rims. The underside of the lid has a channel coated with a food-safe sealing compound specifically made for preserving food at home.
The threaded metal screw band fits over the threaded neck of the jar and holds the lid in place during processing.
WATER BATH CANNER
(or large pot with a lid, and a rack)
Foods high in acid can be processed in a water-bath canner. The heat is transferred by the boiling water which completely covers the jar and lid by 1-2″. Most of these canners are made from porcelain-coated steel or aluminum. They are available commercially, at a very reasonable price. You can also make your own at home. You’ll need a pot deep and wide enough to hold the mason jars and enough water to cover the jars and lids by 1-2″ of water. The pot must have a well-fitting lid and a rack that fits in the bottom of the pot to hold the jars off the bottom of the canner and in an upright position.
It’s very important to have a rack in your canning pot; without a rack in the bottom of the pot, the jars can crack open.
If you’re planning to can a food with low acidity, such as meat, corn and some vegetables, you will need a pressure canner. When I began canning, I started with a pressure canner, not the water bath method. I’ll admit I was a bit nervous. Like most people I had heard horror stories about how dangerous they are and about how they blow up. Let me assure you, today’s home pressure canners are safe and easy to use. I’ve been using my Presto canner for 21 years and have never had a problem with it.
The steam in a pressure canner circulates around the jar, transferring heat and bringing the food to an internal temperature of 240 degrees F at or below 1,000 feet above sea level.
A pressure canner consists of the canner (pot), a rack, a lid, and either a dial or weighted gauge.
This isn’t a required piece of equipment but it makes the process much easier and safer. Designed to let you lift preserving jars confidently with one hand, the Ball Secure-Grip Jar Lifter has ergonomically designed handles for comfort and a molded grip that increases contact surface with the jar.
I have several canning recipes on this site and our YouTube Channel. My two favorite books for canning recipes are the Ball Complete Book of Home Preserving and Ball Blue Book.
Do you currently can at home? Do you have a favorite tool you use when canning? Let me know in the comments section.