Home canning is an excellent homesteading skill to learn. You can preserve farm-fresh, healthy fruits and vegetables for the entire year. Moreso, you can stockpile shelf-stable food in the event of a natural disaster or for those times where there’s more month than money.
I love canning. I love knowing that I have a stockpile of home-grown, healthy foods waiting for my family. And I beam with pride when hubby helps himself to a jar of home-grown and home-canned green salsa.
However, canning can be intimidating. I regularly hear from my readers that they’re scared to even learn! That they’re afraid of blowing themselves up! Or poisoning their families!
To help with these fears, I’ve written an entire post on Everything You Need to Know About Home Canning Safety.
But another really useful thing is the tips and tricks from experienced canners. There’s nothing more valuable than being able to stand on the shoulders of the canners that have come before us.
To do that, I’ve collected the top tips and tricks that home canners on a canning group in Facebook suggested. Some of them you may know already – some you may not. In either case, being reminded of these tips can help us make our canning practice much easier – and more enjoyable!
If you’d like to learn more about how to can the right way, check out my friend Melissa’s Home Canning with Confidence course!
Canning Tips and Tricks
- Lay everything out in advance to make sure you haven’t forgotten anything.
2. Always check for air bubbles.
3. Put your hair up when you cook (no one likes a long strand of hair in their strawberry jam. Lesson learned!)
4. Review the instructions EVERYTIME before using your pressure canner.
5. Before using the pressure canner, check the gasket for damage.
6. Check your vent holes for trapped debris, and make sure any plugs are in place and guage (or weight) is not damaged.
7. Check your jars for knicks or cracks along the rim AND the bottom before filling. “I once found a circular crack around the base. It was long and so fine, it looked like a thin hair coiled up around the jar.”
8. ALWAYS use oven mitts in addition to a safe jar lifter designed for use when canning when moving jars in or out of the canner.
9. Run your jars through the dishwasher’s hot rinse cycle instead of a pot of hot water. It holds more and keep the stove top clear.
10. Start with a clean kitchen.
11. Pretty much everything can be pickled! Try out different veggies and eggs.
12. You can cook in a pressure canner but you cannot can in a pressure cooker.
13. Instead of buying a pot for waterbath canning and one for pressure canning, get the 23 quart pressure canner. Leave the lid off and it becomes a waterbath canner.
14. First time pressure canning do jars of water. You learn your pressure canner and stove without risking any food, plus you have sterile water afterwards for emergencies.
15. Patience – you don’t learn in a day.
16. NEVER can with children underfoot.
17. NEVER leave your canner unattended on the heat or under pressure.
18. Get a Ball canning book. It will teach you right.
19. Follow safe tested recipes until you are 100% positive you know what you’re doing and then still ask those who know.
20. Elderberry juice stains EVERY dang thing!
21. Have a pan only for your jams.
22. Remove the rings from your jars after 24 hours because it can cause a false seal. Also after awhile they can rust and make it almost impossible to get off.
23. I get the water hot in the canner as I am preparing what gets canned. It takes less time to let the cold water come to a boil before placing the jars in.
24. New pressure canners have far more safety features making them far less likely to blow their tops.
25. If you’re making tomato sauce, simply cook the sauce down and use an immersion blender to avoid having to peel and seed tomatoes.
26. Do not stack jars on top of each other in your pantry. It can cause a false seal.
27. Place hot stuff in hot jars. Cold stuff in cold jars.
28. A pint is a pound in most cases.
29. Can the foods you will eat – in portions for one or two meals.
30. With canned meat – pop the lids and place jars in a pot with water just under the rim. Add fresh veggies around them for a hot dinner in 10 minutes.
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31. Place a thick towel on the countertop where you will place jars when you take them out of the water.
32. When lifting jars out of the water, pause for a second over the canner before moving it to the counter. That way, if the change in temperature is going to cause the jar to break, it’ll break over your pot and not your counter.
33. Don’t be afraid of pressure canners! Follow the directions, take care, and you will be just fine!
34. Delight in that “plink”. Soon you will understand.
35. Do not set hot jars on cold surface! That’s a good way for a jar to burst.
36. Give yourself more time than the recipe estimates. In my case, A LOT more time. Another canner said, “And don’t decide to can two batches of salsa the night before vacation, LOL”
37. Have your pressure canner dial guage checked. Some companies, like Presto will do certain ones for free. You can also contact your county extention office for weights and measures.
38. Tumeric stains EVERYTHING.
39. A splash of white vinegar in the ater in your canner will keep your jars from becoming cloudy from the minerals in the water.
40. I use a chopstick to remove air bubbles.
41. Always remove your rings and wash your jars in hot soapy water 24 hours after removing from the canner. Tug on the lids to ensure you don’t have a false seal.
42. Use a sharpee to label the tops of the jars with what’s inside and the date.
43. Clean as you go. (Another homesteader added: “Amen sister, I’ve learned this. Or you’ll be super tired after canning and you’ll have a mess to clean.”)
44. Fall in love with your own canned goods.
45. I like to place a towel over the hot jars once they are out of the canner and sitting on a towel on the counter. Helps avoid drafts and the jars cool more evenly.
46. To keep liquids from seeping out of the jars while in the pressure canner – once the guage gets to the proper pressure keep reducing heat but make sure it stays at the right pressure.
47. Finger tight means tight, not just barely twisted on – lady tight, not man tight.
48. When I’m canning something I use a small whiteboard. I write the headspace on it, the cook time and if I’m pressure canning, then the weight needed.
49. Keep a notebook with what you’ve canned and from what book (Ball or the NCHFP site), what my yield was and date. I learned this from my mom and grandma. Nice to look back each year.
50. When you skim the foam off of jam, put it in a separate jar and refrigerate. It is great in smoothies, over ice cream and in baked goods.
51. Can several recipes that require the same ingredients to speed up prep (e.g. chicken Marsala, chicken cacciatore, chicken with veggies, chicken corn chowder, etc…all have at least two or more overlapping things). Cut up a ton of the ingredients (like onions) then portion them into individual recipes.
52. If you’re going to try a recipe from a non-canning source (old recipe book, non-canner whose mother did it this way, etc) look at a trusted canning source for similar recipes to see if anything is missing or done differently now. Last week I was given a recipe for watermelon rind pickles by my 94 year old neighbor from a 1930’s cookbook. It assumed you knew to add water to the solution!! I only found out what I did wrong after I compared it to modern recipes.
53. Can peaches in orange juice and pears in pineapple juice.
54. When you have the opportunity to stock up on a bunch of lemons at a good price jump on it! Zest them, or peel the yellow part of the peel for freezing. Juice them and strain out the seeds and small bits. Freeze the juice in Ball freezer jars (no odor or taste). So many water bath recipes call for lemon juice – now you’ll always have real lemon juice on hand.
Now that you’ve got a handy list of tips and tricks, try out these canning recipes:
- The 7 Things You Need BEFORE You Start Canning
- Black Walnut Chutney For Canning
- Three Ingredient Strawberry Preserves For Canning
- Crockpot French Onion Soup For Canning
- Easy Bread and Butter Pickles
- Easy Crockpot Applesauce With Canning Instructions
I hope you’ve enjoyed these tips and tricks and happy canning!