Having the right supplies when canning is essential to the success of preserving your food safely and efficiently.
To help ensure you have everything you need, we’ve created a handy list. These home canning supplies are easy to find in grocery stores as well as online marketplaces.
10 Essential Canning Supplies
This list is a compilation of the basic tools and equipment you will need for your canning process, plus a bonus at the end for jam lovers. You may add to this list as you level up your canning experience and techniques.
1. Pressure Canner or Water Bath Canner
When canning low-acid foods like meat and most vegetables, a pressure canner should be used. Almost all the vegetables you may want to can are low acid. The exceptions are tomatoes, pickles, and sauerkraut. Examples of low acid meats are chicken, turkey, fish, and seafood.
A quality pressure canners will come with a rack and a lid. The rack will prevent your jars from resting directly on the bottom of the pot. This is important to keep your jars from cracking in the process.
The canner itself should be tall enough to fit your jars, plus an allowance of one to two inches above your jars for the boiling water. If you plan to can high-acid foods such as jellies, fruits, relishes, and pickles, use a water bath canner instead.
2. Canning Jars
After the canner, the next most important piece of equipment is the canning jars. These are tempered glass jars that can withstand high temperature and pressure.
Canning jars come with a two-piece lid – a flat metal disc (the lid) and a metal screw band to seal the jar.
The most popular canning jars are made by Ball or Kerr. You can sometimes find these in your local grocery store or online. It’s best to use standard threaded home canning jars. Commercial or jelly jars are not recommended.
Reusing Canning Jars
You can reuse canning jars year after year. You should however do a thorough inspection of the lids after each use, to make sure they are not bent or rusty. If they don’t pass the test, buy new ones or the seal may not be airtight.
The effectiveness of sealing compounds on the underside of the lid is also reduced over time, so be sure to check this as well.
Many canners prefer to use new two-piece self-sealing lids each time they can to be on the safe side.
Choosing a Jar Size
Jar size will be dependent upon what you are canning.
- Half pints and 4-oz jars are a nice size for canning jams and jellies. They also work well for anything that you intend to use up quickly or food you intend to distribute as gifts.
- Pint jars are the most versatile size. Ideal for salsa, smaller vegetables like peas or corn, and pie filling.
- Quarts size jars work well for fruits, tomatoes and larger volume of food.
3. Jar Lifter
Jar lifters are specialized tongs to lift hot food from the pot. They have rubberized ends to snugly fit around the jars and prevent the hot jars from slipping during transfers.
Clemson University recommends using an Ergonomic jar lifter when removing the glass jars after canning. The shape of the handle ensures you have a firm grip on the jar.
A popular choice is the Ball Secure-Grip Jar Lifter. It has a spring hinge and a molded rubber design to grip a larger surface area of your jars.
4. Magnetic Jar Lid Lifters
Magnetic lid lifters are used to remove canning lids from boiling water after sterilization. The magnetic design eliminates hand contact and provides a clean environment.
Lid lifters make it easier to sanitize your canning supplies without worrying about getting burned or cross-contamination.
5. Stainless Steel Ladle
A stainless steel ladle is great for scooping out food from boiling water into jars. Stainless steel is a good choice for canning equipment since it can be sterilized at high temperatures.
Sterilization and cleanliness are key to ensuring no impurities are accidentally introduced into the finished product.
6. Jar Funnel
A jar funnel comes in handy to keep the rims clean when filling up canning jars. These funnels come in narrow and wide-mouth forms. They are also effective to prevent spills and splatters.
7. Kitchen Scales
Use kitchen scales for accuracy of measurements.
8. Candy Thermometer
Get a good-quality thermometer that can be clipped or attached to the side of the pot.
Since canning is time-based, it is important to have a reliable timer nearby. Correct timing of processing is crucial. Always start timing when the required pressure is reached.
10. Jam and Jelly Makers
Clemson recommends two products specifically if you like to make jam or jelly at home. Both products stir the fruit while it is cooking.
In the United States, they recommend the Ball® FreshTECH Automatic Jam & Jelly Maker. This fun little appliance cooks up to 4 half-pints of jam (or jelly) in about 30 minutes. In the United Kingdom, they recommend the Tefal Jam Maker.
Proper Storage for Your Canning Supplies
It is a good idea to designate a storage place for your canning tools and equipment. Clear stackable storage boxes are a popular choice, so you can see inside the container and find your supplies easily.
Always, follow your specific manufacturer’s instructions for the proper cleaning, care, and maintenance of your canner. Here are a few extra tips for storing your canner and supplies.
- Store your canner with crumpled paper towels inside and around it. The paper towel will help absorb odor and moisture. Place the lid upside down on the canner. Do not store your canner with the lid sealed.
- Wash and dry rack thoroughly and store inside the canner to save space.
- Remove the rubber gaskets from the lids and wash thoroughly. Ensure not to stretch gaskets while washing. When gaskets start to appear worn out, replace them immediately.
- Wash metal screw bands and other utensils in hot soapy water. Make sure they are completely dry to avoid rust development. Do not leave metal screw bands on the jars during storage.
Having the proper canning equipment is important for your safety as well as preventing unintended kitchen disasters.
Canning is a great way to put up that harvest for the winter months. And once you have a good canner, the remaining supplies are pretty affordable. Use the list above and you will be on your way to a safe and rewarding canning experience.