Canning equipment list.

Canning is a great way to preserve fruits, vegetables, and other foods so you can enjoy them throughout the year. It’s a process of sealing food in jars using heat and pressure to prevent the growth of bacteria, mold, and potential spoilage. With the right canning equipment, you can store your own harvest and save money by preserving your own canned goods.

If you’re new to canning, knowing what supplies you need beforehand is essential! There’s a variety of tools and supplies that can make the process more efficient and enjoyable. I’m going to help you understand which ones are absolute must-haves!

It’s important to invest in the right gear that caters to your specific canning needs. Let’s take a look at the list of canning equipment you need on hand to be prepared for the next canning season.

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Water Bath or Pressure Canner

When preserving food, it’s important to choose the right canning equipment for the job. There are three main types of canners: Pressure Canners, Water Bath Canners, and Steam Canners.

Remember to choose the appropriate canning method based on the type of food you’re preserving, and invest in the right equipment to ensure a successful and enjoyable canning experience.

IMPORTANT! Canning times and pressure are based on altitude. If you are more than 1000ft above sea level, you’ll need to increase your processing time or level of pressure depending on your canning method. Your recipe source should have instructions on how much to adjust based on your altitude.

Pressure Canners

Pressure canners are designed to process low-acid foods, such as meats, poultry, and most vegetables. These canners work by creating a high-pressure environment, which allows the jars to reach a temperature of 240°F, necessary for killing harmful bacteria, especially botulism spores.

To use a pressure canner, you simply place the jars inside, add water, and seal the lid securely. The canner will then heat the water and create steam, which builds up pressure inside the canner. 

They are more expensive, but if you get one like this that can also be used as a water bath canner, it’s the most versatile and is well worth the investment.

Water Bath Canners

Water bath canners are designed for preserving high-acid foods, such as fruits, tomatoes, and pickles. The process involves submerging jars in boiling water, which helps kill bacteria and create a vacuum seal as the jars cool down.

This method is ideal for those new to canning, as it’s relatively easy to use. These canners are more affordable, but aren’t as versatile.

Steam Canners

Steam canners are a modern alternative to traditional water bath canners. They operate by using steam to heat the jars, which saves water and shortens the time spent canning. Steam canners are suitable for high-acid foods that can be safely canned with the water bath method.

To use a steam canner, fill it with a small amount of water and place the jars on a rack inside, then cover with the lid. As the water heats up and creates steam, the jars are heated evenly, ensuring proper preservation.

Mason Jars and Lids

Of course you need storage containers for canning, but you can’t use just any glass jar you have lying around. Either buy new jars, or reuse old ones, but make sure they are designed for canning. Even old jars have to be replaced eventually around 10-13 years.

Glass Jars

Selecting the right glass jars for your canning needs is essential for long-term storage and preservation. Choose jars that are the size called for in your canning recipe, or smaller. Never try to use a larger size.

As a general rule, half pint jars are for jams and jellies, and pint and quart jars are used for pickles, tomato sauces, fruits and vegetables.

Wide mouth versus regular mouth jars are more a matter of preference. For example, wide mouth jars are perfect for chunky items, while regular mouth jars are suitable for jams, jellies, and sauces. 

When choosing glass jars, always inspect them for cracks, chips, or any form of damage. Damaged jars may break during the canning process and pose a safety risk. And a chipped rim can prevent the seal, defeating the purpose of canning altogether.

Lids and Bands

And yes, you’ll also need proper lids and rings (also called bands). Lids are the flat metal disc with a rubber gasket on the underside. This is what stays on your jar after processing.

Unless you specifically buy reusable lids, these are single use for canning purposes, but can be reused for storing things in the pantry or refrigerator. In that case, you’ll need a band to keep the lid on.

Bands, on the other hand, are the threaded metal rings that secure the lids in place during the canning process. These will be removed for storage.

Here are a few tips for selecting lids and bands for canning:

  • Size: Make sure the lids and bands match the mouth size of your jars. If you’re using wide-mouth jars, you’ll need wide-mouth lids and bands, and vice versa for regular-mouth jars.
  • Quality: Opt for BPA-free from reputable brands to ensure safety and longevity.
  • Types: There are reusable canning lids available, such as Tattler and Harvest Guard lids. They’re made of plastic and rubber, making them a more sustainable option. However, these may require additional steps to ensure a proper seal. So, make sure to follow the manufacturer’s instructions carefully.

With the right selection of jars, lids, and bands, you’ll be well on your way to mastering the art of home canning.

Canning Rack

Another must-have is a canning rack. You don’t want your jars sitting directly on the bottom of your canner. This could lead to uneven heating and jars breaking. Which results in unsafe, or spoiled food. No one wants to waste their time or money canning.

Most models come with one, but if yours has gone missing, you need to replace it. You can rig one by wiring extra canning rings together, or puchase a new one.

Jar Lifters

Jar lifters are essential tools in the canning process, as they safely help you remove hot jars from boiling water. You know you don’t want to reach your hand down in there!

This tool is designed with rubber or silicone grips that prevent slipping, allowing you to securely handle jars without the risk of burning your hands or dropping the jars. Just be careful of any water pouring from the jar.

Bubble Remover

A bubble remover is a useful tool for removing trapped air bubbles from the inside of filled jars. By running this plastic or stainless steel tool along the jar’s interior, you’ll ensure consistent processing and a better seal.

It can also be used to even out the food’s distribution within the jar, further enhancing its stability during the canning process. I like the one that doubles as a either a lid lifter like this one or a headspace tool.

Headspace Tool

Each canning recipe will give you a headspace measurement to tell you how much to fill your jar. This tool is what you use to make sure you’ve got it right. Don’t eyeball it!

You can absolutely use a dedicated kitchen plastic ruler for this (wash it first), but I absolutely love the little stair-step tool that came in the kit my grandma got me for my birthday last year! And as I’ve mentioned, it doubles as a bubble remover.

I also use it it make sure I’ve covered my jars with enough water.

Kitchen and Paper Towels

You’ll likely want two kitchen towels, one to set your hot jars on while you fill them, and one to set them on after pulling them out of the canner. Setting a hot jar on a cold counter top could cause the jar to break. A kitchen towel provides an insulating barrier to prevent this.

You also need something to clean the rims of the jars before placing the lid. I have used a damp kitchen cloth, but have found that it’s more unwieldy and fairly likely to drag into the contents of the jar and make a mess. A damp paper towel folded until it’s about a 2 inch square does a much better job at wiping the rims of the jars.

Canning Funnel

If you can fill your jars directly from the ladle without making a mess, a canning funnel isn’t stricly necessary. For us mere mortals, it’s a must-have. It ensures a (relatively) mess-free transfer of food into jars.

They are designed to fit snugly into jar openings, allowing you to easily pour liquids, preserves, or pickles without spills and splatters. It especially helps keeping the rim and threads clean (still wipe them to make sure before sealing the jar).

Many funnels even come with built-in headspace measurements, making it easy to achieve the right amount of space between the food and jar lid. Canning funnels come in different sizes and materials, so choose the one that best suits your requirements.

Lid Lifter

A lid lifter is a handy tool that helps you pick up and place hot lids onto jars with ease. It has a magnetized end, which can easily lift and transfer metal lids without having to touch them with your hands.

This not only reduces the risk of burns but also ensures a more sanitary canning process. If your headspace or bubble popper don’t double as a lid lifter, you can use a pair of tongs, but this magnetic puppy sure makes it a lot easier than that!

A Few “Nice-To-Haves”

Food Mill

A food mill is necessary if you are making tomato sauce, applesauce, or other purees. I have used a fine-mesh sieve and a spatula before, but let me assure you, that is more work than you want to go to.

Mandoline Slicer

If you are slicing up a bunch of cucumbers for pickles, a mandoline will make the job go faster. It will also help the slices be uniform. Personally, I don’t want to ever make pickles without one!

Good Shoes

Canning has you on your feet for a long time. (I’m taking about 2 hours for a batch of jam from beginning to end.) A good, comfortable pair of shoes will help your feet not feel like they’re about to fall off when you’re done!

Or you could also invest in some anti-fatigue kitchen rugs and really give your feet a break!

Frequently Asked Questions

What are the essential tools for a beginner canner?

As a beginner canner, you’ll need a few essential tools to get started. These include a large canning pot with a lid, canning jars with new, unused lids and bands, a jar lifter to safely handle hot jars, a funnel to help avoid spills when filling jars, and a headspace measuring tool to ensure jars are properly filled. A canning rack should also be on your list, as it helps keep jars off the bottom of the pot for even processing.

What supplies are needed for pressure canning?

When pressure canning, you’ll need a pressure canner, in addition to the basic canning equipment like jars, lids, bands, and jar lifter. It’s essential to follow the pressure canner manufacturer’s instructions for your specific model, as each may have unique requirements. You may also require a thermometer to ensure accurate processing temperatures and a pressure gauge if your pressure canner doesn’t have one built-in.

Where can I find canning supplies near me?

Canning supplies can be found at a variety of stores, including kitchen supply stores, hardware stores, and even some grocery stores. Additionally, online retailers like Amazon offer an extensive selection of canning supplies you can order directly to your home.

Which canning kits are best for beginners?

There are several canning kits available that are perfect for beginners. You can check out this water bath canning kit or purchase your canner separately and get this kit with the other necessary tools. You’ll still need to purchase your jars, lids, and bands separately.

What is a canning rack and why do I need one?

A canning rack is a wire or metal rack that’s placed at the bottom of your canning pot, keeping your jars off the direct heat and allowing water to circulate around them evenly. This helps prevent jars from cracking, ensures even processing, and allows for better heat distribution. It’s an essential tool for both water bath canning and pressure canning, so be sure to include it in your list of canning equipment.

How does water bath canning differ from pressure canning?

There are two primary methods of canning: water bath and pressure canning. Water bath canners are used for high-acid foods like fruits, jams, jellies, and pickles, while pressure canners are designed for low-acid foods like vegetables, meats, and poultry that cannot be safely canned with the water bath method. The main difference lies in the processing temperatures, with pressure canners reaching higher temperatures that are necessary to safely preserve low-acid foods. It’s crucial to follow the recommended method for each type of food to ensure safe and effective preservation.

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