Preserving and Canning Equipment List

Canning supplies How Do I get Started Canning

Do you can?  I love the idea of putting my own food away.  I can totally control the ingredients, and a lot of the time, I grew the ingredients in the first place.  There’s something awesome about feeling self-reliant.  Plus, once you invest in your canning supplies, the savings really start to add up.

If you plan to start canning this year, here’s a guide of canning essentials to get you started.  {I totally recommend starting now, so that you can spread the purchases out throughout the summer, making it a little easier on your budget.}

ball quart canning jars

First, canning jars.  Kerr or Ball are the most common.  I don’t have a preference, in fact, I think they are basically the same, so I tend to lean toward whichever are cheapest.  I do like the wide-mouth variety waaaay better, though, just because it is so much easier to get the food out.  They are a little more expensive, but remember, you’ll use them year after year, so the cost will be negligible in the long run.    I have a friend who tried to use recycled mayo jars, etc. once, but said that they didn’t seal very consistently, so I would avoid them personally.

canning rings

You’ll need lids and rings to go on your jars.  If you are new to canning, you cannot reuse the lids from year to year, but you can reuse the rings.  {The lids seal properly one time, so for food safety, you have to get new each time you can.  There are some reusable lids, which you definitely pay for, but I have never used them, so I really don’t know if they work well.  If any of you have used them, though, let me know what you thought in the comments.}

basic canning set

Next, you’re going to need a canner {which is basically a big black pot, specially designed to fit your canning jars}.  Try to find one that comes with a rack to place the jars into the pot.  It’s just easier and more cost effective than buying them separate.  This is what you will use to process most of your canned foods.  Again, if you have never canned before, this process is called a water bath {letting jars sit in a rolling boil}.  Usually, your recipe will tell you how long to process your food in a water bath.

home canning kit

I consider the next bit optional, but seriously recommended.  Usually you can buy them all in a home canning kit for pretty cheap.  Make sure the kit has at least these:  a magnet, a jar-sized funnel, a bubble remover and jar lifting tongs.   They will make your life sooooo much easier.  The magnet is so you can easily grab and place your lids on the jars.  The funnel makes putting the food into the jars a lot cleaner {plus, I use mine for other things throughout the year}.  The bubble remover, well, removes bubbles from your liquid before you seal the jar.  And, the jar lifting tongs allow you to lift jars individually out of your water bath–because remember, they are hot, and sometimes a little heavy, so being able to lift them singly helps.

all-american-pressure-canner-gauge (1)

If you plan on canning meats or beans, you’ll need a pressure canner.  It basically helps to get low-acid foods to a safe temperature {240 degrees} for preservation.

ball canning book

Finally, consider buying a canning cookbook.  My favorite is the Ball Complete Book of Home Preserving.  Not only does it have all of the basics plus a lot more, pretty much everyone I know who cans, owns it.

Do you can?  Can you think of any other basic essentials?



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  1. says

    I have made some jam in previous years, but this year I plan to do more. I need to buy all the essentials and am looking forward to it. One question – why do some of the jars in the last picture not have rings on them?

    • Jenn Bane says

      I’ve learned this the hard way! Once you water bath the jars and they seal, you should remove the rings. This is to prevent rust from starting… I’ve got rust on about 1/2 of my rings now this year :(

    • Jessica says

      Hi Jill!

      Once the jars are sealed, you do not want to store the jars with the rings on. The rings can rust on and get stuck….

    • Betsy says

      Once the jars have sealed and cooled, you dont need to leave the rings on them if you aren’t moving them around a lot. I actually like to take the rings off because sometimes a little moisture gets in the jar threads and rusts making the jars really hard to open.

    • Mary says

      Actually it’s not recommended to keep the rings on the jars once they have sealed because if for some reason the food does go bad in the jar the seal will go and you will know not to use it. You can check the usda website for all the specifics. :)

      • Mavis says

        I took the photo before I moved all my jars down to the pantry for winter storage. :) I agree, one your jars have set, go ahead and remove the rings. :)

    • Mavis says

      I took the photo before I moved all my jars down to the pantry for winter storage. :) You’ll wan to remove the rings before storing them. :)

  2. Jules says

    Look for jars at second hand stores. Just the other day I saw an older lady giving boxes of Ball jars to our local Union Gospel Mission store!

    • Erin Wilson says

      I second this! You need to check to make sure the rims aren’t chipped, but thrift stores, garage sales, and are great spots to find super cheap jars and canners. Not the kind of thing you find every day, but if you’re a thrift store shopper anyway, it’s good to keep your eyes out.

  3. says

    I love putting up my own food. I love that I can regulate what I put in my food.

    2012 was the first year I ate strictly by season but I didn’t pressure can any vegetables, so by February, I was having a hard time sticking to that goal. For 2013, I’m going to pressure can more vegetables (carrots, peas, corn) so that I have a bigger array of vegetables to choose from come winter!

  4. Jennifer says

    I am a canning maniac! In the last few years I’ve been slowly replacing my standard mason jars with the weck canning jars, and I couldn’t be more pleased. No Rust. No BPA. Plus, they are just beautiful!

  5. An Oregon mom says

    Garage sales are a great place to find jars. I scored 6 big boxes of jars (jars were stacked two high in each box) for $20.
    The Tattler reusable lids are a little spendy up front but are totally awesome. I have used and reused them for the past 3 canning seasons, on everything except canning tuna. And for those can ALOT , you can buy the lids in bulk amounts and save a bit.

    • Madam Chow says

      Agreed, Tattler lids are great. Tip: get on their email list, and every once in a while they have 20% off sales and will notify you about them!

  6. Sophia says

    I love, love, love your photos…what lovely colors…cans all in a row! I’ve made peach jam in the past, but this year I’m planning on doing LOTS of tomato canning! I’ve planted 49 plants, 6 different varieties (most of which I started from seed)…so I can hardly WAIT for canning! *skipping*
    I would also highly recommend getting the canning kit (the jar grippers in particular). I tried canning without the kit the first time and it was tricky…and slow. The kit is SO worth it!
    Happy canning Mavis!

  7. Cecily says

    I would recommend a steam canner as an alternative to a water canner. They use 1/10 the water, heat up in 1/4 the time, jars don’t rattle together so there is less breakage and no need for a jar lifter. They cost a little more than the water version ($5 more at my local hardware store) but that is off set by the savings in time and resources.

  8. says

    I’ve only been canning for two years, but I’m kind of obsessed. I agree that second-hand stores and garage sales are great places to look for canning jars. I’d also add two great books to your list: Put ‘Em Up by Sherri Brooks Vinton and Food in Jars by Marisa McClellan (she has a blog called Food in Jars, too, but the book is truly gorgeous and worth owning!).

    • says

      Yes, I agree! I also have Canning For A New Generation by Liana Krisoff, Well-Preserved by Eugenia Bone, The Complete Book of Small Batch Preserving by Ellie Topp, and Ball Blue Book Guide to Preserving, as well as the Complete Book to Home Preserving by Ball. I have to say, Canning For a New Generation is by far my favorite, followed by Well-Preserved.

      • Madam Chow says

        Linda Ziedrich has a couple of really good books, as well: The Joy of Pickling, and The Joy of Jams, Jellies, and other Sweet Preserves.

  9. Kathy says

    My sister (in NE Ohio) has already started canning this year…mint jelly. Mom said it’s mm mm good! Can’t wait until fall when it really kicks into gear.

  10. Diane says

    As to canning supplies: I keep a bunch of flour sack dish towels or other easy-to-wash cotton towels to put on the counter to set the canning jars on. The towels catch spills and also keep the jars insulated from the counter surface (some countertops, like tile, tend to be cold and the hot jars could potentially crack when they meet that cold surface).

    I can a lot of jam during the summer fruit season, and last summer I put up enough pickles to sink a battleship. We’ve still got a big stock of them – I think this year I’ll only be canning pickles to give away!

  11. yas says

    I re-use the flat lids for the jars I store my dried herbs in – things like mint, lemon balm, basil, sage – I grow a ton, and after drying them I just pop them into the jars and keep them in a cool dark cupboard in my basement and then I can make tea or have some cooking herbs all year long. Or storing anything that is dry, really. Sometimes you’ll get a chip on the lip of a jar, which renders it unfit for canning, but you can still use it for other storage. (or sometimes the jars you find at yard sales have chips, grab them too! If the chips are too big for a reasonable seal for dried herbs or rice or whatnot, you can put things like buttons or other craft supplies in them) So you don’t have to throw the lids away! Just mark them so you know not to use them for your next canning session.

    If you want to make jelly that is clear, a jelly bag is essential (unless you are more clever than I with tying up your simmered fruit into a cloth kitchen towel). I typically make jam and then I don’t need to fuss about with jelly bags at all!

    A comfy chair to sit on if you’re running a pressure canner is super nice – you can’t just set it and walk away, you keep an eye on it and make sure to adjust your heat source up or down to keep your pressure constant. I like to sit and read a book, but you could do other kitchen prep stuff too.

    A user manual and spare parts for pressure canners – you don’t want to need to replace the gasket thingie mid-project and run to the hardware store only to find out they’re temporarily out of stock.

    Something to label your food with – I’ve used masking tape, bought labels, printed labels on plain paper and glued them on with a glue stick (you can go to the Avery site and design labels to print on their label products, or just print them out on plain paper if you realize you ran out of the labels you’d been using…), written on the jar lid with a Sharpie marker.. whatever you do, you don’t want to guess which dark red jam is which… or wonder how old that jar of pickles is that you found in the back of the pantry.

  12. Sakura says

    I love canning. I’ve learned to pressure and water bath can. One item that I use for small batch canning is a 4th burner pot. This is allows me to make jars of jam or something small without having to heat up a giant pot of water. (Great for those times you have strawberries that are just to ripe to eat.) I love to find jars at the thrift store, my favorite are the older small jars with fruit shapes embedded all around! For dill pickles I like to use small mouth jars, it keeps the cukes in there place, and for pickled peas I like small 1/2 pint jars to drain and use in salads!

  13. Sheryl says

    I would recommend canning salt (not iodized salt!) and personally, I don’t like to use treated city water, preferring well water or something like it.

  14. Chris says

    I grew up on a farm where we had a big garden and several local orchards. We canned and froze most fresh fruits and veggies. After I moved out of my parents’ house, I missed that fresh picked flavor all year long. Grocery store produce just isn’t the same. This year for the first time, I am seriously considering doing some canning and freezing. I live alone so I don’t need tons. I am trying to remove toxins from my life and food is a big one. I figure this way I can control the quality and ingredients.

  15. Deborah says

    Hi! Thanks for the great tips and beautiful photos. May I ask, once you open the jars for use, how do you store/refrigerate any leftovers, particularly jams? Do they need to be transferred to another container with it’s own lid? Thanks.

  16. susan from wi says

    I agree wholeheartedly with the book recommendations above! Love them all! Complete Guide is good to get started, and for all the basic recipes. The others helped me to expand on what tastes are complimentary (vanilla beans, ginger, and/or herbs are often added to jars).
    I don’t use a canning rack, since I have a hood over my stove, and there is not enough clearance to get the rack out. I just take them out with the jar lifter. I also started out by using only big stockpots for boiling water canning. Remember, it just needs to be tall enough to have 2″ or water above the jars (and boiling room) when processing.
    So, my essential list is a little shorter, and when I teach people to can, it is a little less overwhelming to them that they can use what they already have in their kitchen. I cannot be without a jar lifter, tongs (the ones I use normally), a canning funnel, and to get air out, I often use plastic knives instead of having a special utensil – always have one or two laying around. :)

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