Noobie Question lol! What supplies are needed for canning?

Cresson, PA(Zone 6a)

Ok, never canned anything before, but, if my growing season this year works out (last year didnt work out so well lol) I might consider trying out canning some of my produce. What all supplies are needed for canning... other than of course the ball jars/lids lol

Cedarhome, WA(Zone 8b)

To can fruits and pickles (water bath canning), you will need a canning kettle and jar rack (these typically come as a set), jar lifter, a flexible flat knife or metal spatula to release air bubbles, clean cloths for wiping jars before sealing, jars and lids, and lots of pans and kettles. Extras: lid rack (this is a handy little tool that I like, your lids sit upright in a little rack that fits inside a pot of simmering water), really large capacity kettle with a spout (for extra water, brine, or sugar water).

To can vegetables and meats (pressure canning) you will need everything listed above plus a much more expensive pressure canner. I believe there are some threads that compare various brands and models if you are interested in this.

Most folks start out with water bath canning, which is less costly to get set up, and you can get a feel for whether you like canning or not.

For what it's worth, I have found it frustrating that most water bath canners are never quite deep enough. You want to allow for room above your jars for the water to boil without spilling over and the typical speckled canners are just a bit too short. I've never found a good source for taller canners and have just lived with watching for the boil over.

Have fun with it, and my advice is to stick with USDA guidelines rather than granny's recipe -- botulism is no picnic. Nothing more satisfying than a row of fresh pickles, peaches, or applesauce though.

Cresson, PA(Zone 6a)

Hm, this is definitely something to think about. Debating whether or not I really want to try to jump into this.. or just keep getting fresh canned goods from my inlaws , and freezing my own garden veggies lol. After I posted this question yesterday, I got to peeking around this forum yesterday, and doing some googling about it, it sounds like its a lot of time investment as well. Not sure I have the time to do it all, thats all. Maybe down the road when life starts settling down a bit and my kids get older, I'll be able to try my hand out at this. My kids are 6 1/2 and 5 years old, both have disabilities, so, just not sure its possible for me right now due to how much time it sounds like it can take :( Thanks for the info though!

On another note... I wish this forum was a little more categorized... I initially came to the canning,freezing,drying forum to learn more about freezing and drying things, but i cant find very many topics regarding either of them here :( I'll have to keep hunting back through the threads, thats all :)

Charleston, SC(Zone 8b)

yes, canning can be time consuming but unless I am doing a complicated chutney recipe I don't find it much more than preping stuff for the freezer, but as shoe says- if you do not do it right you run the risk of botulism. My advice would be to contact the nearest county extension agent and ask if they have classes. This way you learn the right way. Vegetables have changed in the 40 some years I have been canning- used to be when I canned tomatoes all I had to do was peel them, put in jar, add a tbsp salt and lemon juice then process. Tomatoes today do not have the acidic levels as past, so the risk of spoilage is greater.

I canned great amounts of vegetables, pickles and fruit when my kids were young- I just had to do it when they were sleeping. waterbath canning is the easiest but only with things using sugar or vinegar. example: you can not waterbath beets but you can make pickled beets. Canning also means you do not have to take up freezer space, worry about losing power, or get watery /freezer burned produce. We love strawberries but frozen are yucky- nothing better than a jar of jam in the winter.

You said you would have to settle for things from your in-laws. Can they not show you the basics? AND, I will say that if you find canning to be a drudgery, don't do it. You have to enjoy!

Cedarhome, WA(Zone 8b)

Perhaps start with jams. They are very easy and depending on your locality you may not have to even water bath them. Years ago I took the Master Canning class and was advised that in western Washington we should water bath jam to kill mold spores, but it was not necessary in eastern Washington. Some folks do it anyway to ensure a good seal. I don't even though I do live in western Washington. I just look for any sign of mold when I open a jar, then keep it refrigerated.

A good publication is the Ball Blue Book. This is updated frequently and shows step by step techniques as well as providing safe recipes. Not an expensive book, very useful. It addresses both canning and freezing.

Cresson, PA(Zone 6a)

Thats something else I'm seeing a lot mentioned when talking about canning.... sugar. My son is diabetic, so adding sugar to something, i get a little nervous about, because we have to count the carbs he eats per serving. Something like this, for canning, would make carb counting a little difficult for me I think.

bonehead.. thanks for the tip, but I dont plant fruits, I mostly do veggies and flowers for now (atleast till I can get the time to expand the size of my garden out some lol. I attempted to do it last year, but found that I sunk my hands into too many projects at once, and well, nothing got done lol. So, this year, I'm taking it slow, going at things in small steps lol)

Yes, my inlaws could teach me the basics, I'm sure, if I asked them to. I think this will just be a project for me to keep in the back of my mind for another year. Like I said, I have a lot of projects in mind that I really should get done first. I need to expand the size of my garden anyway before I try to go too gungho into preservation of foods I think, that way, maybe eventually I'll have enough growing TO preserve for long periods of time, and maybe make last us atleast part of the winter months lol.

Lumberton, TX(Zone 8b)

Definitely get the Ball Blue Book! Whether you start canning now or not, it has great advice. There is also a book called Well Peserved (Dragan is the author) which has recipes for using no pectin.

On the whole, freezing is easier. Fruits go in as they are and vegetables have to be blanched.

Plus everything else bonehead said. :)

Fairfield County, CT(Zone 6b)

I think that a canning funnel is must have. It sits in the mouth of the jar and if you fil the jar to the bottom of the funnel you have exactly the right amount of headroom.

Houston, TX(Zone 9a)

Quote from MrsLidwell :
Thats something else I'm seeing a lot mentioned when talking about canning.... sugar. My son is diabetic, so adding sugar to something, i get a little nervous about, because we have to count the carbs he eats per serving. Something like this, for canning, would make carb counting a little difficult for me I think.

If you make jams/jellies, you can use Pomona's "Pectin" and substitute any kind of sweetener - even stevia (which, to my knowledge, has no carbs). Stevia is a natural sweetener (the plant itself is sweet if you pull off a leaf).

I've used Pomona's to make my cran-raspberry sauce because I didn't want to add too much sugar, yet with Sure-Jel a certain amount of sugar is necessary in order for it to actually gel. Pomona's works great!

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