The spring and summer gardening season is now headed towards a close, which means gardeners all across the country are now harvesting their spring/summer gardens, while other gardeners are already planting their fall gardens.
Oh, the joys of gardening — the options are truly limitless! One of those options is canning. Many gardeners have already started the canning process for their fruits and vegetables that they have cared for all season long.
Canning is a great way to preserve your fruits and vegetables. This process can seem a little complicated if you have never done it before. But, what if I told you that it doesn’t have to be?
In part two, we will cover the beginning and finishing steps of canning! I will also include a couple of delicious recipes to get you started.
But, for now, back to canning supplies. I will list the supplies you will need to get started. I’ll also share with you some brief information on each item.
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The canning supplies we will cover in this article are:
- Jars, lids, and rings
- Wide mouth funnel
- Jar lifter
- Canning pots
- Plenty of clean towels and paper towels
- Candy thermometer
Jars, Lids, and Rings
The most common jars for canning are Kerr or Ball jars with rubber-rimmed lids and screw top rings. You can find these jars, lids, and rings at most grocery stores. Before use, inspect the jars for cuts and nicks (especially on used jars) as well as their lids to ensure the rubber is in great condition — which means no cuts or pieces missing.
There are two different styles of jars: wide mouth and regular. Wide mouth jars have a larger opening than a regular jar. This doesn’t affect the canning process at all except that sometimes the wide mouth jars are easier to get the ladle into.
A funnel makes filling jars extremely simple and quick. The best funnel to use is a wide-mouth funnel which has a larger opening at the bottom, whereas a typical funnel has a very narrow opening. A wide-mouth funnel allows things like chunky salsas, jams, or preserves to fit through into the jars.
For canning, any type of ladle will work. Using a ladle (instead of a spoon) is simply easier to scoop and pour hot liquids into the jars using the funnel.
A regular pair of metal tongs are a perfect addition to your canning equipment. Tongs are used to retrieve lids as well as submerge and retrieve empty jars. While some use a fancy lid wand (a stick with a magnet attached to it) to remove lids from the boiling pot, plain metal tongs will work just fine.
This item is great for canning! It makes lifting filled jars out of your canning pot 100 times easier. A jar lifter is specially designed to fit around jars and retrieve them from your canning pot. Many companies like Ball sell a canning starter kit which includes a jar lifter, a lid wand, and other miscellaneous equipment.
You will need some sort of pot to submerge all your filled jars into to process them. A 21.5 quart ‘water bath’ canner pot with a rack is a great choice! You can purchase canning pots in several different sizes.
You will also need another large pot if you are going to be making something like a jam or jelly that needs to be boiled. A regular stock pot or a large boiling pot is perfect for this.
Plenty of Clean Towels and Paper Towels
Canning can be quite messy and you will need plenty of towels. When hot jars come out of the boiling water at any time, a good place to set them is on a thick towel. The thick cloth towel also acts as a barrier between your potentially cold counter coming in contact with your hot jars and breaking them.
Paper towels can be used to wipe the rims of the jars before you put the lids on them.
If you are going to be making jams or jellies, you will need a candy thermometer. Many jams and jellies recipes require them to reach a certain temperature.
Stay tuned for Part 2! We will cover basic steps for the canning process. I will also include simple recipes for your first canning experience! You’ll be an expert in no time!