Canning or fresh preserving is a great way to provide you and your family with food security. Interested in canning, but not sure where to start? Keep reading for the critical fist step in this process: assembling the proper canning tools and supplies!
Canning season is right around the corner!
When the veggie gardens begin to produce gobs of fresh goodness, usually late summer into early fall, it’s time to break those canners out of the pantry.
But even if you do not have a garden, canning can still be a wonderful way to preserve all kinds of food – even meat!
This skill came into my life almost two years ago when I was in a pretty rough place mentally. We were dealing with a major family illness. Anxious energy overwhelmed me.
I needed to DO something.
So, I learned to can. It not only gave me something to occupy myself during those worried months, but it gave me incredible peace of mind around food security for my family.
Canning changed my life. And my pantry has kept on giving since then.
Now, I want to share this hobby with you!
Today, I am going to share the first step you should take if you want to learn how to can – getting the right canning tools and supplies!
What is canning?
Canning is a form of fresh preserving. It’s a genius way to preserve your favorite foods – whether that be veggies, soups, jams, or meat.
And the best part is that it is shelf-stable – no electricity required!
You can preserve anything from fresh veggies, jams, recipes, and meats by canning.
Now that you know what canning is, it’s time to define what type of canning you plan to do.
Types of Canners: What Kind of Canner Do You Need?
There are two types of canning: water bathing and pressure canning.
What is the difference?
It has to do with the acidity of the food.
Acidic foods, such as fruits, salsas, or pickles, can be water bath canned. These foods do not require the high temperatures produced in pressure canning in order to be safe and shelf-stable.
Water Bath Canners: What You Need and When To Use One
If you are canning grape jelly, fruit jams, pie filling, certain tomatoes, and other acidic foods, you will be okay to use the water bath method.
For this canning method, all you need is a large pot with a large rack on the bottom and water. This is a great place to start if you are just getting into canning.
To get a complete water bath canning kit, I’d recommend this one by Granite Ware.
Pressuring Canners: What You Need and When To Use One
On the other hand, pressure canning brings the food to a much higher temperature.
This is the method you will want to use for lower acidic foods, such as vegetables, potatoes, meats, and broths. For these foods to be safe to consume, they must be held at this higher temperature.
Pressure canning is actually my favorite. I find it much less fussy – once you get past the whole “dangerous pressurized vessel” stereotype that is.
What is my favorite pressure canner?
I’m so glad you asked! I have two – my All-American 915 and All-American 921 (affectionately referred to as the submarine).
The 915 will handle 9 to 10 pints or 7 quarts normally, whereas the 921 allows you to stack pints. I am usually able to get 18 or 19 pints in it!
Now, these are the Rolls-Royce of pressure canners. They are well made and built to last. But they come at a hefty price tag.
(Watch my YouTube video here for the backstory behind my $25 thrift store find that is the All-American 921.)
If you want to find something a bit more affordable, Presto is another common go-to brand. My assistant has a Presto 01755 16-Quart pressure canner that she swears by.
Regardless of what method you use, the next item you’ll need on hand is the vessel to store your preserved goodies – glass jars!
Let’s talk jars (and lids and rings, of course)
You are more than likely familiar with the glass jars used for canning. If anything, you’ve probably seen mason jars or Ball jars used as a decoration or even for drinkware at your favorite BBQ restaurant.
There are two main jar sizes we use for canning – pint and quart.
A pint is 2 cups of volume, and a quart is 4 cups of volume.
Two pints go into a quart – there is your math lesson for the day!
I prefer pints because it is a more manageable amount of food. For example, if you were to can chicken in a quart jar, that would be about 2 pounds – way more than I would need at one time.
Now, there are also half pint, or 1 cup volume jars, and quarter pints, or half cup volume jars. You’ll most often use these sizes for jams and jellies. (Now my mouth is watering!)
In addition to the various volume sizes, you’ll also find two different lid and ring sizes – wide-mouth or regular.
There is no real functional difference between these two sizes. The main reason you may want to choose a wide-mouth jar is when you have something that is challenging to get out. For me, that is pie filling.
However, I can fit more regular mouth jars in my canner than wide-mouth. So, I tend to mix and match.
The great thing about glass jars (and their rings) is that as long as they do not have cracks or chips, they are reusable.
What is not reusable are the lids. Once you use a lid in either canning method, it can’t be used again in the canning process.
I also have plastic lids on hand that I use after I’ve opened up something I’ve canned. So for example, if I open up some jam, I’ll put a plastic lid on it to store in the fridge for the next week while I use it up.
Canning Tools and Supplies: Jar grabbers, funnels, debubblers, oh my!
Now that you have your jars and canner ready, there are a few other materials you’ll need.
Pending what you are canning, there are a few key ingredients you’ll want to have on hand.
- First is fruit pectin – that is if you want to make a lot of jams and jellies. It is key to making these thicken.
- Next, is white vinegar. The vinegar is key in this process because you will use it to wipe the rim of your jar before you put your lids on. This will ensure the jar is nice and clean with nothing contaminating it that could compromise your food.
Lastly, I have a few tools that have been life-savers for me on this canning journey.
- Cheesecloth is a handy tool to have within reach. I don’t use it all the time, but I do sometimes use it to strain broth or fruit.
- Jar grabbers or lifters allow you to pick up the hot jars while keeping you safe from burning your fingers!
- A funnel makes it so much easier to get your food into the jar without getting extra stuff on the jar rim.
- When filling canning jars, head space (the space between where the food is and the lid) is very important. That is where the debubbler comes in. The debubbler helps alleviate any extra air bubbles so you can accurately tell what your head space is.
- Lastly, is the magnetic lid lifter. It allows you to easily grab lids out of hot water.
Phew – now that you have all your canning tools and supplies, you are ready to dive in!
Other Canning Resources
In addition to your canning tools and supplies, I have a few resources that will help you in your canning endeavors.
One of my favorite resources is The Complete Guide to Home Canning put out by the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
This book is an amazing resource, and you can count on it to give you the best instructions in order to keep your food safe for you and your family.
How to Can Food: The Beginner’s Home Canning Course
Now, maybe you want to can, but you feel like you need a little extra guideance.
Then, my canning course may be a perfect fit for you!
When you join How To Can Food: The Beginner’s Home Canning Course, you will:
- Hit the books (and the country store shelves) to load up on reading material, resources, and, of course, so many jars.
- Discover all about the different kinds of canners – water bath or pressure canning, you’ll be ready to roll!
- Whip up some delicious, basic recipes that anyone can tackle. Can we say amazing jelly??
- Process fresh meats (yes! meat!) and make them shelf-stable and safe for years.
- Learn how to store your filled jars properly so you can enjoy your canning efforts for months to come.
And this is not just for beginners. This is for the canner who has only canned pickles and wants to try new things. It is also for the experienced canner who knows there is always something new to learn!
I am so grateful to share this hobby of mine with all of you. It truly gave me peace of mind when I needed it the most, and I think it can do the same for you.