How to Start Canning – Canning Tips
Canning is a great way to save a ton of money. We are sharing our canning tips on what you need to know when you want to start canning.
It can be intimidating, so let me break down a bit of information that may be helpful.
You will want to make a list of things that you want to can. Or just start with a list of fruits, meats and vegetables you eat often.
Figure out if you can get these items in a quantity to last you a year, at a good price.
Get a canning book to determine how you these items can be canned, how long they last while canned and difficulty to can. It is important to follow proper food processing standards to maintain food quality and safety.
Where to Get Food to Can?
If you have a garden, farmers market, store with great sales, or great family and friends who share their garden blessings with you, you can can enough to stretch your dollars.
If you are going to plant a garden, figure out in January what you want to winter sow and get started. In March/April have a plan of what is going in your garden. We do a lot of companion gardening in raised beds to help reduce pests.
Decide how big you are going to have your garden. This also determines how much you will/can can.
If you have not canned before, fear not! There are lots of books that can help you:
Canning and Preserving All in One for Dummies – Dummy books really have great advice and great tips for newbies to canning and all things involved.
Ball Complete Book of Home Preserving – This is a great reference book on canning. My grandma had one and I use it to reference when canning.
Water Bath Canning Versus Pressure Canning
Water Bath Canning can be used for food that are hide in acidity. We use our water bath canner for processing tomato juice, whole tomatoes, stewed tomatoes. When we make jams, jellies and marmalades, they require water bath canning to ensure the jars will seal.
You will want to find a water bath canner that has a rack in it, so you can easily pull all the jars out at one time. This also keeps the jars from being directly on the bottom of the pan.
If you have an electric stove, you will want a flat bottomed canner, so that it sits easily on the stove. Read reviews and the description to make sure it works with electric stoves.
Pressure canning will be for your low acidic items. Most vegetables, meats, poultry and seafood need pressure canner.
You will want a pressure canner that seals and has a pressure regulator and gauge that tells you the pressure within the canner. Most recipes require 10 pounds pressure.
If you get a 23 quart pressure like noted below, you can get an additional canner rack (also below), you can can two layers of pint jars in the canner at a time.
When you use a pressure canner, you will need to wait for the canner to cool down and the pressure is zero before removing the jars.
Additional Tools to Can With
Go to tools for canning are the jar funnel and jar lifter. The funnel makes it easier to get the food into the jar. The lifter keeps your hands from going into the hot water. It is rubberized and gripes the jars well.
You may also want headspace tool. This helps you measure how much space in between the top of the jar. Depending on what is being canned, headspace is different. This can also be used to remove bubbles from jars as well.
The lid wand is magnetic and helps pull lids from hot water after sterilize them.
There are various size jars to select from. You want to make sure the jars are meant for canning.
If you are canning cubes of food, you may want to use quart jars because they are bigger. You need to consider how much food you would consume to know if you want left overs or not from it. Vegetables may be best to can in pints.
Half pints and quarter pints are great for marmalades, jams and jellies. They come in quilted and rounded sizes as well. Great gift sizes too.
The other option to take is wide or regular mouth jars. We recommend wide mouth for chunky things and for pie filling. Things that will not easily pour out of a jar, you may want to consider wide mouth. Other items like applesauce, corn, would be easy to get out of regular mouth.
Accessories to Step Up the Canning Game
Get a food mill to get the seeds out of your canning goodies so you can make tomato juice, or to make jelly. You can start out with a manual food mill and if you are canning a lot of tomatoes or things that require a food mill, you may decide to upgrade to an electric food mill or an attachment to your mixer.
Food processers or grinders are perfect if you need to cut a lot of carrots, potatoes and you want a consistent size. That is important for cooking evenly.
Thermometers, cheese cloth are good as needed for recipes.
Tea towels are great to use for placing jars down on the counter. Cold counters could cause the jars to crack, but a towel would help prevent this. Also a tea towel on top of the jars, will allow the jars to cool slowly and prevent cold drafts from breaking jars as well.
Once you have these tools, you’ll just need jars, food and some time to can all your goodies.