Canning Supplies

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In addition to glass canning jars there are some other canning supplies that you will need to assure that you can operate comfortably and safely. Not all are needed for every type of canning, so I'll explain a bit about what each is used for. Most of these items can be found at a local "big box" store, or kitchen store.

If you are lucky enough to have an "old time" hardware store around, they all seem to carry these things as well - and are generally more interesting to shop in. Not to mention, the people who work there are usually very knowledgeable.

Of course you can always get it all on-line as well.

Pressure Canner

Probably the single most important (and costly) item that you will buy for home canning is a pressure canner. A good pressure canner will probably cost more than all other canning supplies combined.

The good thing about a quality pressure canner is that you only have to buy it once. With proper care they can last for a very long time. I own an aluminum canner that belonged to my Great-Grandmother, and is probably 80+ years old. I still use it every year, with great success.

My Great grandmother's pressure canner - still in service today.

I recently purchased a new (bigger) pressure canner, and was amazed at the difference. The old one has side walls that are probably 1/2" thick, and is pretty heavy. The new one (a Presto 23 quart model) has side walls that are less than 1/4", and even though it is quite a bit larger, is much lighter. Aluminum casting technology has come a long ways in 80 years.

Choosing the right size pressure canner can be a balancing act. You don't want to get one too small or you will be canning small batches one after another. At the same time, you don't necessarily want to get one too big, or you will have empty space inside the canner.

MY advice is to get one larger than you think you will need. Once you get started, you will likely want to can more and more. For example, my new canner holds 14 wide mouth pints at a time (or 18 regular), because I can stack them two levels high. My old canner will only hold 8 wide mouth pints at a time. That makes a huge difference in the amount of time spent canning.

Boiling Water Canner

A boiling water canner can be as simple as a large cooking pot that you can fill with water and be able to put canning jars in. It must be deep enough to allow the jars to be completely covered by the water.

I use my small pressure canner as a boiling water canner. If I have a lot to can, I use another large cooking pot at the same time. Just remember, the bigger the pot or pan, the longer you will have to wait for the water to boil.

You can buy large pans from stores that sell canning supplies and equipment. These pans are designed especially to be a boiling water canner. These pans come complete with a canning rack that sits inside the pan to keep the jars up off the bottom of the pan. It is supposed to let you lift the entire batch of jars out at one time. I found this to be difficult to do due to the heat, weight and boiling water. If you had a way to lift the rack out it might be a nice feature.

Consumable Canning Supplies

There are a few standard "consumable" canning supplies that you should keep on hand, because at least one of them will be used nearly every time you can something.

Canning Salt is coarse, un-iodized salt. Never use iodized table salt for canning.

Pectin is used in making jellies, jams and preserves. Without pectin most fruit juices will not "set" or jell.

Sure Jell (frout pectin) is used to make jelly and jam set (jell).

Sugar is also used in making jellies, jams and preserves. It is also used to make simple syrups for canning fruit.

Anti-oxidants like ascorbic acid (marketed as "Fruit Fresh"), or bottled lemon juice is used on fruit to prevent them from turning brown, before canning. It also helps fruit and fruit juice to retain it's color in storage after canning.

General Kitchen Items

These general kitchen items are essential canning equipment for you to have when you begin. Make sure that you have these items before you start.

General Canning Supplies

Measuring Spoons and Cups - for measuring water, food, sugar, salt, etc.

Ladle or Glass Measuring Pitcher - for scooping hot foods into the canning jars.

Paring Knives - used for peeling and cutting foods into proper sizes, and for cutting away bad spots and bruises.

Cutting Board - a large one is better for canning.

Old Towels or Rags - for setting hot jars on when you take them out of the canner until they seal and cool.

Permanent Marker - for writing on the lids. It's important to identify what you canned, and the date.

Pot Holders - you are going to be working with very hot stuff!

Specialty Canning Supplies

Here are some special purpose canning items that are essential to have.

They make the job easier and safer.

Specialized Canning Supplies

Canning Funnel - gives you a bigger target to aim at when filling canning jars. It helps keep the rims of your jars clean, which in turn helps ensure a good seal between jar and lid.

Jar Lifter - used to grab hot jars, lift them out of a hot canner and transfer them to your counter.

Magnetic Lid Wand - lifts dome lids easily out of the boiling water used to prep them for canning.

Bubble Wand - used to remove air bubbles from jars of food prior to sealing and placing in the canner.

NOTE: A butter knife works too, but if you're not careful you can break a hot jar with a metal butter knife.

That about sums up canning supplies. It seems like a lot, but aside from the pressure canner itself, the remaining items are fairly inexpensive,and if you cook at all, you probably already have many of these items in your home. Make sure that you have these supplies before you start, and it will go much smoother. Home canning is an enjoyable experience, but if you don't have the equipment that you need, it can become unpleasant pretty quickly.

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Related Links:

Home Canning

Pressure Canning

Water Bath Canning

Inversion Method

Canning Safety

Canning Basics

Glass Caning Jars