Tired of getting all of your produce and canned goods from grocery stores? Well, you actually don’t have to!
Over the past 10 years, I’ve started canning and freezing as much as I can during the summer months. Canning seemed like a very old fashioned and intimidating prospect when I first began, but I’ve come to learn canning can be simple and rewarding if you have the right tools. Many canning materials can be used year after year, so don’t be intimidated by a daunting canning supply list. I’ve got you covered!
Home canning is a great way to keep your pantry stocked with healthy foods all year long. But if you’re new to canning, it can be tough to know where to start.
I’ll share with you the best products for canning at home that I’ve personally used. I’ll also provide some tips on how to get started with this fun and rewarding hobby!
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Why consider canning at home
There are plenty of reasons to start canning at home, but here are a few of the most important.
- Saving Money: For one, you’ll be able to save money by stocking your pantry with canned goods. Now, if you have to buy most of your supplies to get started, then you may certainly feel like you’re spending more.
- Know what’s in your food: Canning allows you to control the ingredients in your food, which is great if you have food allergies, prefer to eat organic, or simply want to know what’s in your food.
- Skill Building: Canning is a skill that is making a big come back in popularity. Not because it’s trendy, but because people are starting to wake up to realize these are skills that may be even more necessary in the coming years.
- Variety– if you’re canning at home, you’ll be able to make jams, jellies, and a variety of other fun things that you simply can’t find at the store.
If you’re looking for more information on freezing as a method of preserving at home, check out my post all about my Freezer Preserving Favorites!
Canning Materials to Get Started
There are of course lots of extras and fun items that can be used for canning, but if you’re just starting to learn and want the basics, here’s what you’ll need. Note, there are two different types of canners listed here. One for water bath canning and one for pressure canning. Scroll down further for the helpful, but maybe not needed at the very start:
- Jars: You can use any size mason glass jars or glass canning jars that you like, depending on what you’ll be canning. I prefer to use the half-pint, pint, and quart size. (I personally use Ball, but use what you have on hand!) You can choose wide mouth jars or regular mouth jars. The choice is a lot of preference or dependent on what exactly you’re filling the jars with.
- Lids and rings: These are specially made for canning and the lids CANNOT be reused. The rings can be saved and used multiple times. Canning lids and rings can be found at most stores that sell canning supplies or online. (Find lids and rings here.) There is one brand of reusable lids that I have found and tried. See the note at the bottom of this post for the link.
- Jar Lifter/Tongs: Used for handling hot jars; because you do not want to stick your hand in hot water to get jars out. (I love this one made by Ball.) While you can reach in with a pot holder to grab out hot jars, I highly recommend making the small investment in a lifter which will allow you to securely grab the top of the jar and lift it out.
- Canning pot/Canner: For water bath canning, this is a special pot with a canning rack that fits inside and is used to water bath process half pint, pint, and quart jars. You can also use a large pot with a trivet fitted in the bottom. The important note is jars cannot sit at the bottom of a pot while processing; they need to be elevated. Water-bath canning is used for pickles, preserves, and various other high-acid foods. Note: this canner cannot be used on glass cooktops. (Find a canner here.)
- Pressure Canner: For pressure canning, this is a special canner that locks closed and has a weight on top to control the pressure inside. This is used for canning meats, vegetables, and some fruits. Using a pressure gauge can have a learning curve involved, but it’s totally doable!
- Canning Funnel: This wide mouth funnel has a large opening at the end, instead of the typical small funnel spout. This is perfect for getting food into the jars without making a mess all over the outside of the jars. (Find one here.) I use this funnel anytime I need to fill mason jars with broth, beans, etc. even if they aren’t being canned. This funnel is a great addition to any kitchen.
- Lid Wand: This is a small tool with a magnet at one end that allows you to lift canning lids out of the warm water they’re sitting it and place it on jars. I did not have one of these until a few years ago, and now I love it. Plus, it doesn’t take up much space.
- Bubble Popper: This slightly curved stick is used to push food down in jars and to make sure there are no pockets of air before jars are sealed and taken through the canning process.
- Ladle: Another way to get food into the jars, but can also be used for removing air bubbles from the filled jars Jar
- Sharpie: Trust me, you definitely want to mark your jars with dates and contents. All of my pickles start to look the same after a while, and I don’t want a bread and butter chip when what I was going for was dill.
- Full Kit: Presto has a full 7-piece canning kit that comes with tongs, funnel, timer, and more!
Helpful but not essential canning supplies
If you happen to have spare change laying around, or are really intimidated by pressure canning, but really want to try it, then some of these canning extras may be for you.
- Electric pressure/water bath canner: I was able to order one through my husband’s job, and I love it. It really takes all of the work out of pressure canning. Think of an instant pot, but bigger. It can pressure can up to 8 pint jars at a time and 5 quart jars, giving you the freedom to walk away. This pot also water bath cans, bonus!
- Paper labels: I prefer just writing on the lid in sharpie, but if you’re going to gift others with your canning goods, then consider pretty write-on labels.
- Canning Cookbook: There are plenty of free places to look online for canning recipes, but if you’d like to have a guide or two on hand, then I recommend:
- Ball Complete Book of Home Preserving: This is my go-to canning book. Safety is key with canning since no one wants to spend all of this time putting up food that will spoil, so be sure to follow the guidelines for canning in this book, and not random recipes from the 50’s… since guidelines have now changed.
- The Joy of Jams, Jellies, and Other Sweet Preserves: I love this book, as she doesn’t use store bought pectin, instead uses lemon/lemon juice for its natural pectin. These recipes have all been delicious, and even though the book is out of print now, you can still order a copy on Amazon.
- Foolproof Preserving (small batch canning by America’s Test Kitchen): If you aren’t interested in canning in large quantities, then snag this book from America’s Test Kitchen. Their recipes are all small amounts, perfect for beginner canners or those just looking to store a few jars of this and that.
How to Save Money on Canning Materials
If seeing the list of canning materials has you a little overwhelmed, no worries! There are certainly ways to save money on canning supplies. Here are some ideas that I’ve implemented myself in gathering these things:
- Check garage sales or Facebook marketplace: Chances are there is someone out there who is no longer canning or is cleaning out extra canning supplies, and buying second hand is a great way to save money. This can be a wonderful way to purchase canners, jars, and more.
- Thrift stores: I see random mason and ball jars at thrift stores pretty frequently. You can also keep your eyes open for canners here as well.
- Out of Season Sales: Canning does have a “season” at least in the retail space. Look for sales on canning equipment in the fall and winter when these items are less likely to be purchased.
- Try Reusable Canning Lids: As I mentioned above, a few years ago when canning lids were looking hard to come by, I purchased reusable canning lids from Harvest Guard. They have worked well for me so far, but I’m not using them exclusively at this point.
Over the years, I have also received boxes of old canning jars from people who were moving or cleaning out a loved-one’s home who has passed. This is actually quite a wonderful way to keep the traditions of home preserving going in our community. Once people know you’re interested in canning, you may be surprised at supplies that people will offer up!
Favorite Canning Recipes
Once you have the right canning equipment, you need some recipe inspiration as you embark on your canning journey, here are a few of my favorites that hold up to the National Center for Food Preservation guidelines:
- Zucchini Ginger Preserves: This is a delicious and fun way to use up summer zucchini, even those zucchini that got a bit too big for just slicing and eating.
- Quick and Easy Dill Pickles: These are a refrigerator dill pickle recipe that can also be canned for longer term storage purposes. I love using fresh dill and pickling cucumbers for the garden in this recipe. A little garlic also adds a delicious pop!
- How to Can Carrots: Carrots are one of the easiest vegetables to can if you’re a beginner and just starting out. They are fun to can and lovely to look at in the pantry. These veggies are easy to add to soups and stews in the winter or to simply warm up for a quick vegetable side.
- How to Can Green Beans the Easy Way (Melissa K Norris): My grandmother’s pantry wasn’t complete without jars and jars of canned green beans, and now I know why. They really are so simple to can, and I can easily eat them straight out of the jar. Find out how to can this delicious summer crop.
I hope all of this info helps you along your way to learn how to can or to take your canning even further or to begin canning if you’re just considering it! Drop a comment below if you have more recipes or recommendations for us on some essential canning supplies. I love learning what others use for their canning recipes. Y’all are the best. Happy Gardening!