If you’re looking at preserving your harvest, or simply want to take long-term storage into your own hands, here are the canning supplies you’ll need to get started!
One of the biggest things I hear from my readers is that they’ve always wanted to learn how to can fresh produce, but they find it intimidating.
They’ve heard it takes forever, it’s hot, difficult, and they’re afraid of poisoning their family. With some simple preparation and the right tools, canning can be fun and easy!
Also make sure to check out my post on the history of home canning.
When your garden is producing a bountiful harvest and your kitchen is overflowing with fresh produce, it can sometimes create a challenge.
You can only eat so many tomato sandwiches and those gorgeous vine-ripened tomatoes will only last so long sitting on your counter. So what do you do with all the extra? You can it!
Canning is one of the best ways to preserve your fresh food from your garden so you can continue to enjoy it long after the garden stops producing.
You can continue to eat from your land year round when you master the art of canning.
In fact, a lot of homesteaders make extra money by developing a cottage food operation and selling their canned goods online or at Farmer’s markets.
If you are new to canning, there are several supplies you will need to get started. Canning equipment is readily available at big box stores, supermarkets, and online.
Of course, for the best price, you can also find some great canning supplies at yard sales or even on Craigslist if you are on a tight budget.
Here is a look at the things you need before you start canning.
1.Jars, Lids, and Rims
Canning jars (or mason jar) come in a variety of sizes, but the most common used are half pints, pints jars, and quarts. Choose your size based on what you’ll be canning.
Typically smaller jars work well for jams and jellies, while larger jars work best for soups, beans, and vegetables.
The most common brands are Kerr and Ball.
As you shop for jars, you’ll also notice that there are two “mouth” sizes. Regular jars have a standard opening on top, but wide mouth jars have a larger opening, making them easier to stuff.
I’ll buy a mix of both and choose which based on the types of foods I’m canning.
Wide mouth jars are especially handy if you are canning larger pieces of produce, like pear or peach halves.
Where regular mouth jars well help keep pickles or other foods below the surface of the liquid.
Just like the mouths of the jars are different sizes you’ll need to buy the canning lids to fit your jars. Each can will be topped with a two-piece lid, the jar lids and the rings.
While the rings are re-usable, you’ll need to purchase new lids each time.
You can find jars practically everywhere these days because they have become quite trendy among the DIY crowd.
Look for them at thrift stores, Facebook marketplace, yard sales, or flea markets to get them for a bargain.
You can reuse jars as long as they are undamaged.
If you shop used, make sure you check carefully at the top edge of jars for dings or cracks!
Replacement lids come in packs and are inexpensive, especially if you buy in bulk. You can also buy re-usable lids such as Tattler. These lids are designed to be used more than once, and with regular rings as well.
Often I see people asking if they can use other types of glass jars, but these will not seal correctly so make sure to get jars designed for canning.
2. Canners – Water Bath or Pressure Canner
Before you start canning, you will need to purchase a canner.
There are two basic kinds of canners and the kind you use will depend on what type of foods you plan to can: a water bath canner and a pressure canner.
Water-bath canner are the easiest option to start out with and you may even have a large pot with a lid at home that you can use without having to buy something new.
Note – you cannot exchange pressure cookers for pressure canners because they weren’t designed for it and the pressure may not be adequate to safely process your jars.
For water baths, you will need a large pot with a lid and a rack to place on the bottom of the pot. If you place your jars on the directly on the bottom of the pot, they can crack from the heat.
Water-bath canning is used for high acid foods. You can use this basic canning setup to preserve pickles, jams, and jellies.
If you want to can foods with low acidity such as beans, potatoes, corn, or meat, you will need a pressure canner. A pressure canner uses pressure in increase the temperature of the canned goods more so than boiling water can.
I’ve often heard a rumor that you can’t can if you have a glasstop range , but I have been for more than a decade without issue.
Learning to can with both types of canners is really essential if you want to get the most bang for your buck with food preservation.
3. Jar Lifter
Sometimes jar lifters come with canners if you buy a kit. However, if you are using a canner you already have at home or if you bought one used, then you will want to purchase a jar lifter.
This handy little tool lets you pick up boiling hot mason jars out of the canner without burning yourself.
They give you a snug hold on the jars to prevent you from dropping the slippery, wet jars as you transfer them in and out of the canner during processing.
4. Stir Stick
After you fill up your jars with all that beautiful produce, you’ll need this little tool to eliminate any tiny air bubbles that are trapped in the jar.
Just slide the little stick inside around the edges of the jar and you’ll see little bubble come to the top as you released the trapped air.
You can buy stir sticks specially designed for canning and sometimes they come in a canning kit.
Here’s a fun little tip: you can also use a chopstick or a butter knife for this job and get the same basic functionality.
5. Canning Funnel
While this tool isn’t necessarily required before you start canning, it is well worth it to spend a few bucks to get one.
A canning funnel is designed to sit on top of your jars as you fill them up.
When you are ladeling in hot soups, pickling brines, or stewed vegetables, the funnel will drastically cut down on your clean-up time and keep you from spilling down the sides of the jars.
6. Kitchen Timer
You’ll also need a good, reliable kitchen timer. Canning is a bit of a science and you have to follow recipes correctly, processing jars for just the right amount of time to insure that they seal properly.
Your oven or microwave may have a built in timer function that will do the job, but just make sure you have some type of kitchen timer on hand before you start canning.
7. Other Handy Supplies for Canning
In addition to all the basic canning gear listed above, here are a few other supplies that will come in very handy when you start canning:
- Wooden spoon
- Slotted spoon
- Mixing bowls
- Sharp paring knife
- Clean kitchen towel
- Food mill
- Victorio strainer
- Pea sheller
- Citric acid
Before you start canning, here are a few quick tips that will save you time and hassle along the way.
If you plan to do a lot of canning, it’s really well worth it to splurge on a complete canning kit. These are easy to find online and usually come with the supplies you’ll need like a funnel, magnetic lid lifter, and jar lifter.
Check out my favorite canning recipes below for some inspiration!
Or check out my complete list of FREE canning books for new recipes!
Quick Tips for Canning Success
First, make sure you gather all your ingredients and canning tools before you begin.
Canning can quickly turn into a disaster if you get halfway through the prep process and realize that you don’t have enough ingredients or your jar lifter is missing.
If you have a friend or family member that already knows how to can, ask for help. It’s so much easier to learn to can if you can watch an experienced pro at work!
Finally, enjoy the process! Learning to can is an exciting adventure and there are thousands of recipes you can try as you go. In many ways, canning is a lot like cooking.
It takes a little more time, but the results are just as delicious and far longer lasting. Start stocking up on your canning supplies and start learning to can today.