Can-tastic equipment: Essential canning tools

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Ready to get started canning? If you’re ready to preserve the bountiful flavors of the season, you need a few trusty tools by your side. Grab your apron and roll up your sleeves because we’re diving into the world of water bath canning essentials.

From jars to canning pots to hot pads, here’s my list of water bath canning must-haves to help you put up those homemade preserves, jams and pickles with love and care. 

Canning pot and many of the essentials for home canning plus canned goods.
Home Canning Essentials. Photo Credit: Yayimages.

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Water bath canning essentials

Here’s my list of everything you need for canning your harvest. These handy tools help me get the best canning results, and I think you’ll also benefit from them. 

Canning pot: A canning pot is specially designed for water bath canning jars. It features a removable rack that keeps the jars off the bottom of the pot so the jars don’t crack. I don’t know how many jars I’ve broken before finally investing in a real canning pot. But once I did buy a pot with the rack, I rarely broke another jar.

Canning jars: You have two options for canning jars, either re-use your old jars or buy new jars. Either kind works fine if you wash and sterilize them before adding your canned product. Check all jars to ensure they don’t have any chips in the mouth of the jar, and discard any chipped or broken jars. 

Flat lids: Use new, never used flat lids on your jars for the best results. I know many people like to reuse lids, but it’s not safe to use them again because, once opened, they may not seal well enough for pantry storage. 

Canning rings: Canning rings cover the flat lid and screw onto the jar. Rings can be reused but should be rust-free. Replace them if they are rusty. 

Wide-mouth canning funnel: This specialized canning funnel fits regular and wide-mouth jars. Regular funnels will not work because they’re too small to let your canned goods pass through. The canning funnel allows you to pour ladles of hot food into jars without it getting all over the outside. This is the one tool I especially appreciate; it keeps the jars so clean.  

A bubble remover tool: Use this specialized tool to reach the bottom of jars to release trapped bubbles. Some of them even come with lines to measure headspace.

Lid lifter magnet wand: Hot flat lids are hard to pick up, but a magnet wand makes it easy. This seems like a silly tool, but once I bought one and quit using a fork to lift hot lids out of hot water, making jams, pickles and more got so much easier. 

Jar lifter tongs: These are a specialized wide set of tongs made just for moving hot jars of canned goods. Lifting boiling hot jars out of a canner is easy with these tongs. 

Kitchen timer: Use a stand-alone egg timer and take it with you if you need to leave the kitchen for a minute. 

Clean kitchen towels: Fresh-washed kitchen towels are perfect for making home-canned goods. You will need them for drying canning jars, drying your hands and various steps along the way. 

Hot pads: A couple of hot pads make the job easier because pot handles have a tendency to get hot during canning.  I like to keep them on the counter so they’re within reaching distance whenever I need them. 

Paper towels: I use these to wipe the mouth of the jar to remove any product or liquid where the lid will sit. You can also use a clean dishcloth, but I like to use select-a-size paper towels because I can use a clean one each time. 

Water bath canning is perfect for making pickles for the best grilled burgers, homemade hot sauce like sriracha, jams, and jellies for bread, toast or pancakes all year. 

For the best canning results, I like to store all of my canning essentials together in one place. I keep my jars in a large tote or, if they’re new, right in their cases. 

I store the extra lids, funnels, tongs and other tools in the canning pot. It makes them easy to get to, and I can always find what I need when needed. 

Cucumbers and fresh dill in bowls ready to make pickles.
Canning process. Photo Credit: Yayimages.

Now that you’ve got the lowdown on water bath canning tools, it’s time to get canning. You can preserve your own harvest, buy produce in bulk, or use frozen berries and preserve it; there is no wrong answer here. It’s just nice to have a pantry with some home-canned goods in it. You can use them all winter or share them with friends and family. 

Laura Sampson of Little House Big Alaska is on a mission to teach modern family-oriented home cooks how to make old-fashioned foods new again. She shares her passion for home cooking, backyard gardening, and homesteading on her website and blog

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