This canning supplies guide is the perfect way to start learning how to economically can your own healthy vegetables, jams, soups and meats.
I've been canning most of my life. I grew up on a dairy farm in Indiana and canning was a part of our daily lives. Whether it be going to the basement to get a jar of something good for supper or putting up particular produce that was in season to enjoy later. The first thing I learned to can is my favorite Spicy Bread and Butter Pickles. My grandma would let me help slice the pickles and onions, then pack them tightly in the jars. To me, they were a treat as good as candy. I would sit down with a fork in hand and eat them right out of the jar.
After I was married I realized what a time saver it was to have food already prepared in jars on busy nights. It also became quickly clear to me that the amount of money I could save canning my own food was substantial. Not to mention the quality of the product was far superior to store-bought.
How do I start canning at home?
Take some time to learn the terms and proper procedures to safely canning your own food at home. Here are some terms to become familiar with.
- Lid – The flat circle part of the sealing set that goes on top of the jar first. The bottom side has a rubber seal around the edge. It can only be used once.
- Band – The round part that screws on after the lid is placed on the jar. Some people call them rings also. They are reusable.
- Headspace – The amount of empty space you leave from the top of the product in your jar to the top of the jar.
- Waterbath – Method of canning for high acid or high sugar foods like pickles, tomato sauce or jams. Filled cans are boiled in a large water bath canner which resembles a big stockpot. It is filled with water and the jars of food are boiled for a set amount of time.
- Pressure Canning – Method of canning for low acid foods, like meat and vegetables. A pressure cooker reaches a higher temperature needed to safely preserve low acid foods.
- Finger-Tight – Tightness of screwing on the band just using your hands.
- Processing time – The amount of time you need to boil or pressurize jars of food to ensure bacteria is killed and food can safely be stored.
Next, I suggest you purchase or check out from your library a few basic how-to canning books to read. Each book has a how-to guide in the front and then recipes that will inspire you to get started.
How long does home canning last?
The seal on your home canned goods should be good for years but I follow best practices and try to use my home canning food within a year. Here are some tips for making your canning seals last.
- Buy only good quality seals and rings. I like to stick with a well-known brand such as Ball or Kerr. Off brands have failed for me. The rubber seal is thinner and does not seal right after canning.
- Write the date of processing/sealing with a permanent marker on top of your lid seals. That way you will know how long they have been stored.
- Store in a cool and dry dark area.
- Follow all best practices for pressure canning or water bath canning.
What can not be home canned?
Most fruits, vegetables, and meats can be home canned with proper sealing techniques. However, there are a few items that can not safely be canned.
- Milk products such as milk, cheese, sour cream, butter, and yogurts - Milk has a low-acid level and supports an environment that fosters botulism growth at room temperature. Many times, the fat in milk can also protect botulism spores during the canning process.
- Fats such as lard, oil & mayo - The fat will not allow the heat of the canning process to penetrate the contents, allowing the food to house spores and other harmful bacteria.
- Refried beans - The thickness of the refried beans is too much for the heat to penetrate the interior
- Some vegetables such as brussel sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, eggplant, and olives should only be preserved via pickling. If not they tend to turn mushy and change colors.
- Flour products such as cakes, pasta, and bread are very prone to botulism.
- Nuts - Most nuts have an oily texture and can lead to botulism
Canning Jars & Lids
I have had the same jars for 30+ years. Some were even handed down to me by my grandma. Always run your finger over the rim before using a jar feeling for any tiny chips. If it is not smooth don't use it for canning.
Basic Canning Supplies - Utensiles and Tools
Advanced Canning Supplies - Utensils and Tools
Ok, this section is where I can go crazy. There are so many helpful tools and gadgets to make home canning easier when doing large batches. Just start collecting a few items as you need them. Also, keep an eye out in thrift shops or garage sales for them.
Preserved Food Gift Giving
Estimating Fruit & Vegetable Yields Per Pound Guide
I have created this free printable guide to make it quick and easy to know how much produce you need to pick or buy for your next canning project. Sign up below and I will send it right to your inbox.
To learn more about canning be sure and visit National Center For Home Preservation. You will find more canning supplies suggestions, safe practices, and recipes.