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Not only do I love gardening, but I also enjoy canning the excess from my garden as well as stocking up and canning deals I find throughout the gardening season.
It’s a great way to preserve your garden’s bounty and ensure you make the most of the gardening season. And while canning may seem intimidating to a beginner, it’s actually a really easy way to preserve your food.
If you are planning to can this year, you want to make sure you have the canning equipment needed to can all your food safely.
Here are the must-have canning supplies you need.
You’ll be preserving your fruits and vegetables before you know it.
Must-Have Canning Equipment
The first essential canning item you’ll need is some canning jars.
These glass jars come with lids that seal tightly and metal rims that secure the lids onto the jars.
When looking at canning jars, it can be easy to get overwhelmed and not know which canning jar sizes you need or want to have on hand.
The canning jar size you’ll need for canning and how many of each will depend on the item you’re preserving and how much you intend to use at one time.
Smaller jars are great for canning jams and jellies, medium sized jars are perfect for pickles, salsa, and pie filling, and large canning jars are great for canned fruit and vegetables.
Canning jars also come with different sized openings on the top.
Wide mouth jars work well when canning larger items, like full pieces of fruit because it’s easier to fit the item into the jar.
Traditional jars have a smaller opening, which works well for sauces and smaller vegetables.
In all honesty, I have started using only wide mouth jars, except for some of the smallest jars that I sometimes use for jams and my husband uses for hot sauce. I find the wide mouth jars are much easier for me to clean.
Canning Jar Lids
You’ll want to make sure you have some canning jar lids as well. They are special lids with a seal on them.
Most canning jar lids are one-time use and they come in regular and wide mouth. It’s pretty self-explanatory which lid goes where, but you want to make sure if you are using wide mouth jars to use the wide mouth lids. If you are using regular mouthed jars, to use the regular mouth lids.
If you are buying your jars new this year, you most likely don’t need to worry about the lids, since the packs come with lids and bands. If you are using jars used previously, hand me downs, or purchased used, then make sure you buy enough lids for all your jars.
You may need to buy new bands as well if you don’t have enough. Jar bands are something that can be reused, so you shouldn’t have to buy them very often.
There are some reusable canning jar lids.
Water Bath Canner
There are a variety of ways to process your cans after the food is ready to be preserved.
The most common canning method is boiling the cans in a water bath canner, especially if you plan to can jellies, jams, salsas, and pickles.
A water bath canner is basically a large pot that has a jar rack that rests inside.
The jar rack holds your jars steady as they boil, which helps prevent breakage while you seal the jars.
A large stock pot will also work for processing small batches of jars. If using a stock pot, be sure to keep the jars from resting on the bottom of the pot to avoid breaking the jars as they boil.
A pressure canner is another popular canning method and is great for canning fruits and vegetables.
Pressure canners typically have a dial gauge on top to indicate the pressure inside the pot. This type of canner usually comes deep enough to hold one layer of quart size jars or two layers of pint-size jars.
A pressure canner also comes with a canning rack to keep your jars from breaking as they’re processed.
Pressure canners are expensive though. I was lucky enough to find one at Goodwill recently. Before using a used one, make sure to bring it into your county’s extension office so they can check the pressure for you. Call ahead to make sure they offer this service.
Now that we’ve gone over the big canning equipment, let’s talk about the smaller canning tools.
These canning tools make it so much easier and quicker to can and I consider them pretty much all essential.
My first year canning, I tried getting by without a lid lifter and it was laughable trying to get the lids out of boiling water.
Canning Jar Lifter
A canning jar lifter looks like a large pair of tongs that allow you to grip the top of a jar and remove it from the canner after the processing is finished.
The water in the canner will be hot and same with the jars! These are so helpful for removing the jars without getting burnt.
Magnetic Lid Lifter
With a magnetic lid lifter, you’ll be able to easily remove the hot metal lids from simmering water after you sanitize them and place them directly on your jars.
In addition to keeping your fingers safe as you place the lids on the jars, a lid lifter also helps prevent contamination while you transfer the lids from the sterile water to the jars.
You can use the canning lid lifter to remove air bubbles from your jars as well.
To keep from making a mess as you pour the contents of your jars inside, you’ll need a canning funnel.
A canning funnel is different than a traditional funnel because it is designed to easily fit inside a canning jar but has an opening wide enough to allow a variety of ingredients to pour through.
I love using this one, because it also includes the info on how much “head space” is left in the jar at each line.
If you don’t already have a ladle, I would suggest picking one up for canning.
Ladles make it so much easier to transfer food and liquids from pans to the jars.
If you plan on canning jams or jellies, you’ll need to have some pectin on hand.
I personally use the low sugar pectin for my jams and jellies and we love it! The jams turn out tasting so incredibly fresh. Even though, this is low sugar pectin, there is still a lot of sugar used in the recipes.
Pectin is typically derived from citrus peels and is used to transform your fruit mixture into a gel.
If you plan on making sauces (if you’ve never tried pear sauce, it’s delicious!), salsas or jellies, a food mill is great to have on hand.
The rotary handle on top of the food mill easily mashes and grinds cooked food into a smooth sauce, making it a great addition to your canning supplies.
Canning Kit or Canning Set
If you are starting out, sometimes it’s cheaper, not to mention easier to buy everything in a canning set. Unfortunately, I’m having a difficult time finding a set at the moment that is in stock with the canner and all the accessories.
You can find this canning accessories set that includes the funnel, magnetic lid lifter, and jar lifter all together.
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