Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Canning 101 ~ Supplies

With spring bringing gardens to the backyard, some of you may want to try your hand at canning this year. But where to start…. all this "stuff" can really overwhelm you! I will spend this week in giving some basic information to get you going and will include a tutorial at the end of canning pickled beets to give you a better idea of how it all works. Today, I am going to go over what is needed in order to can high acid foods in a regular canner (low acid food must be pressure-canned and I will go over that in another post).

The grey enamel pot in the picture above is the actual canner and it comes with a canning rack inside. If you notice the jars in the picture, they are sitting inside the canning rack. The purpose of the canning rack is to place your jars in each section (7 in this one) as it is a convenient way to load your goods into the canner full of boiling water as well as keeping the jars from clanking against each other while you are processing them. Basically, when you purchase a canner you should receive the rack, enamel pot and lid. That is your "canner" and is the main supply for this fun way of preserving food.

The other items that are extremely helpful (and very necessary) is a jar funnel in which to safely ladle your contents into the jars without mishaps.

A jar lifter is the tool you will use to remove the hot processed jars from the canning rack, safe and sound without burning your fingers since the rubber end is shaped in a semi-circle to make it easy to clamp on and lift the top of the jars with ease. You will love this little lifesaver!

The fun tool to own is the lid wand. When you are canning, you need to heat the lids in simmering water in order to get them gummy enough to seal prior to placing them on the jars and putting into the canner. The lid wand allows you to dip it (instead of your sweet fingers) in the hot water with the lids while the magnetic end picks one lid up for you and you can conveniently transfer it onto the prepared jar without ever touching it.

Lastly, I recommend a stainless steel ladle because recipes with tomatoes don't do well with aluminum because it leaches from them. To be safe, always use stainless steel equipment in canning. I will also suggest that a long wooden spoon is excellent to have for stirring your jams, etc.

They have lots of other tools on the market, but these are the basic essentials and ones I have used successfully for years.

The other obvious supplies are the canning jars themselves. They sell regular mouth jars and wide mouth jars. The difference is that the wide mouth are just that, with a wide opening. If you had to choose between one or the other, to be on the safe side, always buy the wide mouth. You can can anything in those while the regular mouth jars are not always convenient for bulkier items like canning pickles (For example, it would be hard to jam a pickle inside this jar!). When purchasing a box of jars, they always come with one set of lids and screw bands. You can continue to use screw bands until they are corroded and gross but the flat lids MUST be changed every time (screw bands are shown above the box of lids in photo). There is a gummy surface on the lids that gets heated and creates the seal for your canned items. After one use, it loses it's strength and therefore is unable to provide you with desired seal hence the need use a new lid each time. You can purchase the lids separately as refills without having to repurchase the screw bands with them each time. 

They also sell the decorative screw bands and lids (see gingham set above) should you want to give any away as gifts with an extra flair. They are usually found during the summer seasons at Target, etc. I have found that you can have a lot of fun decorating your canned goods with simple craft supplies as well.

My next canning post will feature some basic terms to familiarize you to what "they" are saying in recipes for home canning. Canning can be a lot of fun, I hope you don't get intimidated by all the tools and terms and give it a try! It is so rewarding to have all those fresh foods preserved from your own gardens or fruit stands!

Suggested Resources:

"Go to the ant, thou sluggard; consider her ways, and be wise:
Which having no guide, overseer, or ruler,
Provideth her meat in the summer,
and gathereth her food in the harvest."
~ Proverbs 6:6-8


  1. Yay! A tutorial on canning! Thank you so much. I look forward to following your posts.


    1. Glad to hear someone is interested :) Thank you for stopping by Kristi.

  2. Nice tutorial! Canning is really growing again and so many people would benefit from this post. Would you consider adding it to my blog's link up? http://littlefarminthebigcity.blogspot.com/2012/04/homestead-helps-wednesday-homestead-hop_17.html

  3. I love those gingham lids! I'll have to keep my eyes open for some of those this summer!

    1. I love them too! My sister in law gave them to me as a gift ;)

  4. Hi Jes,
    So glad that you have posted this. I was just trying to work up my courage to try canning as I was reading recipes in a cookbook this morning. And then I saw your post...! Thank you so much for your help!

    Also, thank you for following my blog. It was so good to see you there! Hope you have a great weekend!

    1. Try it, it is so fun and rewarding :)

      You can email me with any questions you may have as well!

  5. I am Janie from the Philippines and I am considering resigning from working in the office this year, I am so glad I chance upon your site, I already spent a lot of time reading your blog and will do some more readings in the coming days, you inspire me more to become a homemaker =) i hope i can do this "canning" when the time comes. Thanks for sharing what you know! God Bless!

    1. Hello Janie~ Thank you for sharing! Homemaking is a part of my heart and I am glad that you can feel it :) I know that you can CAN! If you ever have any questions, just send me an email or leave a comment and I will be glad to help! In the meantime, I pray your journey from work to home is blessed...