You may have been toying around with the idea of canning food, and what that process involves, for quite some time. From fruits and vegetables to tomato sauce and jam, there is so much produce that can be, well, canned!
However, one thing that may be holding you back is not knowing exactly what you need to succeed. There is a little more to preserving canned food than boiling water, after all! That said, home canning can be fun, easy, and cost-efficient when done correctly.
Therefore, we’ve gathered together the must-have home canning supplies all in one place just for you. This is the place that will jump-start your home canning journey!
Word to the Wise
Before we take a deep dive into the home canning supplies, you’ll need to make canning safe and healthy to do in your home.
It’s important to note one thing: you must always follow the USDA’s guidelines for food safety and food storage and get the processing time and canning methods right.
By following these guidelines, you will ensure your safety and that of your family from the start.
Home Canning Supplies
Knowing what home canning supplies you’ll need is highly dependent on what type of canning you’re going to do in your home.
Depending on what type you prefer to use, you will need specific home canning supplies for each technique. That said, some of the home canning supplies you will need may work for both techniques.
Let’s start with the basics.
Canning Jars and Lids
This first home canning supply is a no-brainer. In order to preserve food through the canning process, you must have canning jars and lids. It sounds obvious to some, but the problem is that there are so many types.
Once you start exploring the different options, you’ll find that there are numerous canning jars on the market. They come in countless different shapes, sizes, and designs.
The way to choose the right canning jar for your needs is to know what you wish to preserve in the first place.
If you plan on using the canning jars for your own use, you will want to opt for canning jars that are practical, functional, and cost-efficient. These are the jars that you can reuse over and over again with a variety of different types of food.
However, if you’re looking to use the canned goods for gifts, you may want something that’s a bit more decorative. There are some great decorative options for you to choose from, especially around the holiday season. Stock up on the canning jars when you can and have them as backup options when you need a thoughtful gift.
The canning jars also have different lid options. Some jars come with one-piece lids and others have a two-piece lid/band. It is extremely important that you use the right lid for your canning jar as it is what will keep the air and, therefore, contaminants out of the contents jar during the preservation period.
Cleaning the lids correctly is also vital. You do not want to get any rust on them during the cleaning process, so be sure to dry them properly before use or storage.
Canning jars and lids are among the most important home canning supplies as the vacuum seal they provide is the only way in which you can properly store the food you are preserving for long periods.
Home Canning Tools
Once you know what kind of food you’re preserving, and secure the right type of jars, you will need the tools to complete the process.
Here are some of the tools you will need to make your canning experience easy and enjoyable:
You can find these tools separately, but there are also some great tool kits that put all of your home canning supplies in one place.
Aside from the actual canning jars, a cooker or canner is one of the most important home canning tools you’ll ever need. Without a pressure cooker or a canner, you will find canning difficult and, most likely, unenjoyable.
Centuries ago, people did not have the luxury of owning this specific home canning supply. However, with the invention of great kitchen tools such as the cooker or canner, we are now able to save ourselves a lot of time and effort!
You can most certainly use a large pot with a rack to preserve your food in canning jars, but using a cooker or canner is ideal. The pressure building up inside the canner makes the water much hotter without boiling it, penetrating deep inside the jar and destroying all contaminants.
The great thing about a pressure cooker is it serves two purposes: you can cook your meals in less than half the regular time and preserve your food.
Pressure cookers are great for those who are already advanced in the canning process. They are not ideal for beginners, however.
If you are a beginner in the canning world, you may want to look at water bath canners. They’re inexpensive and easy to use.
The thing about canners is they come in different sizes as well, just like canning jars. The way to choose the right canner is to get to grips with your overall purpose for canning and choose the right canner/cooker for your needs.
You may even find a canner that comes with all of the home canning supplies you need in one pretty package.
When it comes time to do the real preparation of the food, you will want a food strainer. A food mill will work, too. This is a quick way to grind your food down and pureed to your desired consistency.
The great thing about food strainers is that they are not just for home canning—they can be useful in many other ways in the kitchen. For example, you can make your own soups and juices! If you don’t own a food strainer, you could also use a blender or food processor for similar results.
Bear with us here.
Kitchen towels are essential to the home canning process. While good kitchen towels are important for any kitchen, having the right towels (and the right quantity of them) while you’re canning will save you time, frustration, and a burnt finger or two.
You will need a good, thick towel to place the hot canning jars on the counter, while another will be needed to clean off the rim of the jar before finally sealing them up.
Sometimes, the conversion and processing times can be overwhelming when you first start out in the home canning business. With a home canning recipe book, however, you will have a quick reference guide to help you along the way.
Once you do it a few times, you will feel more confident in your abilities.
However, until that confident day comes, you will want to use a home canning recipe book. It will give you step-by-step instructions as well as processing times and temperatures to ensure food safety guidelines are met. An easy-to-follow recipe book will also help you feel in control and happy as you learn about the canning process.
Many people leave this one off of their home canning supplies list because they don’t realize how vital it is.
Though this isn’t something to be purchased in the store, you most definitely need to find it. Patience is key to any home canning project you take on. After all, there will be waiting times, trial and error, and other issues that may arise while taking part in home canning.
If you want your home canning experience to be enjoyable, productive, and efficient, you must have patience. We can promise you that, with patience, you will find the technique that is right for you, the supplies that work for your needs, and the food that is preserved to your liking.
Canning Fresh Fruits
Heading out to the farmers market to find fresh, delicious fruits? Not sure that you can eat all of the goodies before they spoil? No problem. Home canning can help!
Along with the home canning supplies listed above, you’ll need the following supplies (which you may already have in your pantry) to help make your fresh fruit canning a success:
Vinegar and Apple Cider Vinegar
This is one of those supplies you’ll need to ensure you reach the right acidity level. Depending on what you’re canning, the acidity levels must be right in order to keep the preserved food exactly how you want it inside the canning jar.
Bottled lemon juice, not fresh lemon juice, is ideal for helping your canned foods first reach and then remain a certain acidity level.
Because fresh lemon juice is a bit unpredictable when it comes to how much pH is in the formula, bottled lemon juice is best because it is regulated and refined.
Who doesn’t love sugar and honey? If you are making jams and jellies, you will want to add sugar and/or honey to your canned jams to enhance the natural flavors of the fruit. Imagine all of that sweetness marinating inside of a canning jar for days, weeks, and even months. The result is delicious.
Pectin is a supply that you may or may not need for your recipe, but it is nice to have on hand. The pectin is used to help create a thicker consistency in jams and especially jellies.
Runny jelly is never appetizing, but pectin can ensure that it thickens up just right. You may not need to use pectin at all if the fruit has enough natural pectin. For example, sour apples, blackberries, and lemon are all fruits that have high natural pectin. Apricots, peaches, and raspberries are examples of fruit that have low pectin, so you should add pectin to those jams and jellies.
Check out your canning recipe book to find out what fruits need pectin and which don’t.
Having all of your home canning supplies ready to go is step one of the canning process.
Here are some helpful hints to keep your home canning experience top-notch each and every time:
- Gather your home canning supplies first. Starting a home canning project without all of your needed materials is like taking a shower without any shampoo or body wash. You can get the process going, but you won’t be able to finish it without getting out and making a huge mess.
- Take up the offer to learn from someone who’s been home canning long before you. There are so many people who have been home canning for years and who would love to help you.
Ask around. You may be surprised to learn that your own family members partake in home canning. They can help you with any questions or processes you may not understand.
- Don’t deviate from the recipe. We all know those people who swear they cook better without following recipes. But this is one time where you shouldn’t go off course.
Canning recipes are specific for a reason: people know what’s needed to ensure the food is kept safely in the canning jars.
- Only use approved canning supplies. Scientists and food researchers have done a lot of studies on what makes food go bad and how to keep you safe. Listen to their advice.
Additional Time, Additional Hands
- Give yourself plenty of time. Home canning may sound like a fun afternoon activity, but it’s much more than that (especially for beginners).
When you’re under the time crunch to get it done, you may find that all of the fun you thought you’d have, quickly disappears. Make it your weekend activity and include the kids if you can. If your kids aren’t old enough, find some time for yourself during the week when you have nowhere to go and no one to see.
- Find a friend to can with. Not only is canning with someone a great way to catch up on each other’s lives, but it is also a smart idea to have someone else share in the clean-up and preparation process.
You can get it all done quickly with the help of a friend. Break out a glass of wine and start canning.
Home canning supplies are there to make canning a breeze. With the right tools to hand and the right knowledge, you can make home canning fun and productive.
Many home canners comment on the fact that preserving your own food is a great money saver. You might spend a few more bucks upfront getting the home canning supplies you need, but you will save money in the long run!