Canning for Beginners Part 1 The Equipment

I’m telling you straight off the bat, I am no expert in canning, or really anything else to be honest. I explore, research, and try things out. If it works, great! If not, well, I try again. I will tell you what works for me. I will also tell you about my failures. If it helped me, I will let you know.

All that being said, we canned a lot when I was a kid. Every year, we put up all the produce in the garden. Back then, we had a huge garden. Mom didn’t work outside the home for a while, so we spent a lot of time in that garden, pulling weeds, gathering the veggies. I didn’t ever think twice about why we were doing it, it was just a way of life for us.

Then, I moved out and bought veggies already canned and it was so much easier. Granted, I lived in the city and couldn’t have my own garden, but I was also working and taking care of our house.

Now, I am thinking of the added salt in all those veggies and I am glad that I have the room and the ability to grow my own food. I’m also thankful for all those years canning when I was growing up. If you can, you know what I mean. If not, it’s worth learning, even just to help with the grocery bill.

There’s two types of canning, pressure canner and water bath canning. Today, I am going to talk about your equipment and how to prepare it for canning.  Then, I will do a post on each type of canning. By breaking this up into parts, I am hoping not to overwhelm either of us! 🙂

The items you are going to need, work for both types of canning. Which is good, otherwise it would be expensive. 😉

Glass canning jars can be found at Wal-Mart, the dollar store (we have Dollar General) and if you are lucky, nice neighbors who will give them to you. Most jars come with lids, but if you have used ones, you’ll have to get new lids and bands. The jars should be clean with no nicks, cracks or uneven edges on the top (or anywhere else) or they might not seal properly. Jars and bands are reusable, lids are not. New ones must be used each time you can.

It’s extremely helpful to have a canning funnel. It’s a wider funnel than most kitchen ones and fits just right inside the jars. We don’t have one, but I have a ladle, which you will also need, as well as spoons (preferably wood) and rubber spatulas to remove air bubbles in the jars. Measuring spoons, cups, cutting boards and knives, and dish rags are also on your list of things to gather up.

Another helpful item, but also not essential, is a jar rack. It’s a simple little thing that sits inside the canner. You place the jars inside it and put them into the canner. Makes it much easier to put the jars into the hot water without placing your skin at risk. It also keeps the jars of the bottom of the hot canner, otherwise you run the risk of the jars breaking.  However, if you have a wire rack (one of those things that you put cookies on to cool them off) you can place that in there instead. Pressure canners usually come with tan extra piece to keep the jars off the bottom of the canner.

A jar lifter will help to take the jars out of the boiling water. Or if you’re like me, I also use them to put them in the canner, because I don’t have a rack.
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Now for the extra important stuff: the canners themselves. Basically, for water bath methods, any pan that is large will do. You need to make sure it’s large enough to cover your jars with water 2″ above the jars and still have enough room to boil. A lid will help to bring the water to a boil faster. However, there is a canner. You can also get that at Wal-Mart (I promise I’m not paid to push them, it’s the only place that I know for certain they carry them.).

For pressure canning, you MUST have a pressure canner, NOT a cooker. Pressure cookers cool to quickly and they may not maintain the right pressure to can safely. Please make sure you have a canner, not a cooker!

I will go into more details on the canners in those posts.

You will also need recipes. I get mine from Ball. You want to make sure that they have been tested, look over the reviews. You can can your family favorites, but it takes a bit of investigating to make sure they are able to be canned correctly and safely.

In order to prepare your equipment, they need to be sterilized before use. We wash everything we are using in hot, soapy water. I rinse them really well, and leave them in the sink. I then pour boiling water over them, to be completely covered. I leave them to sit there in the hot water while I get everything else ready.
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That’s pretty much it for prepping your equipment. Next will be how to can using the water bath method!

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