Because I shared about Canning on TikTok, I have found myself thrust into the new role of a Home Canning influencer – alongside my side hustle as a cloth diaper blogger.
Let’s talk about what you really need to start home canning and preserving food. There’s two different ways to can: pressure canning (low acid foods) and water bath canning (for fruits and pickling).My mother taught me to can, but when I’m looking to reference or double check I visit one of two websites: The National Center for Home Food Preservation & Bernardin (Canning Jars). Sometimes information changes; sometimes the information we thought we knew last year changes in our brain. It’s also good to double check instead of relying on your memory.
- How to Prepare For Canning Season (Before It Happens!)
- What I Learnt in A Day of Canning (or More)
- First Attempt at Rhubarb Juice & the Jelly
Water Bath Canning or Pressure Canning?
If you want to start canning vegetables, get yourself a pressure canner and learn to pressure can. I pressure can whenever possible because I feel it takes less time, and I’m not dealing with a big pot of boiling water.
Some foods that I home can with my pressure canner include: cream corn, green beans, beats, & turkey broth.
Pressure Canners are EXPENSIVE. I was very lucky to have received mine from my mother, who most likely found it at a garage sale. We also use the one my grandma passed down to us. Pressure canners come in different sizes and shapes. My grandma’s pressure canner is shorter and doesn’t fit quarts very well.
Consider the size of jars you want to can AND if there’s enough clearance to lock the jar.
For that reason, I love myself a big ol’ tall pressure canner. I use my tall pressure canner to water bath pickles and peaches because BIG ENOUGH to hold a quart plus head space of water.
Here’s a few suggestions of pressure canners that I would buy off Amazon – these are models that closely resemble what I have. And I feel that the canner I have is timeless. It doesn’t have too many plastic bits and things that break off. I do use a weighted canner, but you can also get gage canners. I’m sure that there is a “better” choice between the two, but I prefer the weighted one because I can listen to the gage. It is much noiser compared to the pressure control one that you have to more closely watch.
Turns out it’s hard to find weighted canners like mine…. so that must mean they’ve fallen out of favour. Fair enough, things change. But if you find one at a garage sale for $20 make it yours.
Just wanting to do jam and a few jars of other things? Consider a water bath canner. These are really easy to find at a local thrift shop, it’s just a big pot. You could also use a big pot with a rack in it. You need to have 1-2″ of water on top of the jar, but you find what works. I don’t really like having a water bath canner and a pressure canner and a stock pot. It’s so much space in my pantry.
Do I really need a Canning Supplies Kit?
It’s a great deal… but I only ever use the Jar Lifter and the Funnel. You don’t have to heat your lids anymore, so the magnet is out of date. I’ve never had a bubble popper, so I’ve always used something else if needed. And the other things, I don’t even know what they are for.
What about Canning Jars?
I was asked how many jars you need to start canning — and that is a big question with many variables. How much do you plan to can?
You can usually google “how many jars does 20lbs of pickles make” and it’ll tell you that it’s about 2lbs per jar. And that can help you ensure you have the right number. It’s not always accurate because we ended up with way more pickle jars than they estimated. But, at least there was a starting point.
Beg, borrow & steal as many glass jars as you can from family, friends and grandparents. Most of my jars came to me from my grandparents or my mom. But, I’ve also bought jars over the years. Don’t ever buy them full price because they do go 20-30% off at the grocery store.
Jars do break and explode. You will need to replace them occasionally. Repurposing jars from other kitchen food is hit or miss. A lot of sauce companies have started making their lids non-standard, or they are too fragile for pressure canning.
Wide Mouth or Narrow? Again, the hard canning questions. I use widemouth jars for things that are wide, and narrow mouth jars for things that aren’t. We use wide mouth jars for pickles, beets, and peaches. We use narrow for corn, sauces & syrups, cherries. You’ll kinda find your groove on what you like, for the most part I have narrow mouth jars.
I don’t use Gem Jars because I don’t have any; I’m not even sure you can buy them new.
Pints or Quarts? Check the food you are canning. Not all foods can be canned in Quarts; corn for example. Usually pick the size of jar that I want as it relates to the food product I want to consume. So my family eats a pint of green beans; but we need a quart of peaches.
Canning supplies on Canadian Amazon is crazy expensive. I’d try to source locally through your grocery store, Canadian Tire or Walmart.
Don’t forget to buy lids, if you are using jars that didn’t have lids! Lids are sold separately so that continue to reuse your jars for years to come. In 2021 sourcing canning lids was so incredibly difficult. I actually ended up ordering some Tattlers Reusable wide mouth lids (I got them here in Canada, but they didn’t come in time for Pickle Season. I hope to try them in the future. I’m looking forward to the long term cost savings because lids can cost me $75-100/season for something that is single use. No thanks. If I can avoid the waste, avoid the cost, then I’ll do it. But it is a big investment if you’re starting canning new and not sure if it’s a forever thing.
I don’t trust random lids on the internet. I only buy the brand available – Bernadin in Canada – because I know it’s tested and true. I don’t want to have to recall something because of cheap lids. I had a friend have an entire batch of cherries not seal due to random lids.
Towels & Cleaning Supplies
The other part of canning is the mess that you need to clean up your canning. You’re going to want an apron, kitchen towels, wash cloth, and maybe some paper towel to wipe the rims clean. You might also want a little vinegar to reduce deposits in the canner (if you have hard water).
The trick with canning – is you really want to keep your kitchen clean. This reduces food Bourne illnesses and ensures a safe product. Keep wiping services, washing tools and washing your hands.
Source out FRESH local produce for canning. The best produce to can is the produce picked within 24 hours. When we do corn, we do it right and then and there. When we source pickles, we want them picked that morning. It makes a huge difference in the quality of your canning product.
- Fresh Produce
- Pickling Salt – Canning salt is DIFFERENT than normal salt because it is pure sodium chloride.
- Pickling Vinegar – if pickling, you’ll want this 10% vinegar.
Essential Canning Supplies
- Canning Pot: pressure canner or water bath canner with a rack.
- Jar lift
- Jars + Lids + Rings
- Funnel – if doing sauces or creamy things
- Cleaning Supplies
That’s about it folks, you can totally do this. Canning is expensive. But you can find suitable shortcuts, buy second hand, and borrow from friends and family to keep the cost down. Don’t throw out your jars, and recycle as much as possible.