So you’ve decided that you want to learn about canning and you are interested in canning your first batch of something. Maybe you want to make homemade salsa, a batch of dill pickles or homemade spaghetti sauce. I first learned how to can tomatoes in 1999 and have learned a few things that worked and some definite things that didn’t. Today in our ‘let’s learn about’ series, I’m sharing some things to help you get started on your canning journey.
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Let’s Learn about Canning
When people first decide to start canning food they may be a little apprehensive about the safety of the food and the level of difficulty. But with a little bit of information and practice, canning can be as easy as baking or cooking and perfect for even a novice.
How much does Canning cost?
Canning can be a bit pricey if you are just starting out and you don’t have a friend or family member to share the supplies. But this is a hobby that gets cheaper the longer you do it.
- Water Bath Canner – approximate cost $40-$50
- Mason Jars – I recommend buying these at your local grocery store. ($12-$15 per dozen quart size jars); also available on Amazon
- Lids and Rings – prices vary by size and availability
- Pressure Canner – $150 and up
What equipment do I need?
To get started, you must have a canner, jars, lids, and produce. There are lots of pieces of equipment that make the process easier or more efficient but they are not necessary to get started.
There are two types of canners.
- The water bath canner is simply a large pot that will hold multiple jars and cover them completely with boiling water for a set amount of time.
- A pressure canner boils water under pressure for a set amount of time and then has to have the steam released before it’s
Most canners agree that you should start with a water bath canner before you progress to a pressure canner.
What can I preserve with a canner?
Each vegetable and fruit have different levels of acid which require specific time and heat or pressure to safely can. Never experiment with food preservation. Always use a trusted recipe and follow the recommended guidelines.
– Water bath canning is used for preserving foods with high acid levels such as most tomatoes, pickles, relishes, jams, jellies, and marmalades.Source
– Pressure canning is used to can foods with low acid levels including red meats, seafood, poultry, and low acid vegetables such as okra, carrots, green beans, asparagus, and spinach.
Where should I start?
In my opinion, the two easiest places to start are pickles and salsa. You can buy a premix at your local grocery or on Amazon and just follow the directions. I love using Mrs. Wages Salsa and Dill Pickle Mix. Just pick your tomatoes or cucumbers and add the seasoning.
Are Jellies Hard to Make?
Yes and no. It’s not hard to make jelly but I have found that it’s not always predictable. I’ve made a lot of jelly over the past seasons. They taste amazing but the consistency is not always perfect. Sometimes I’ve ended up with syrup or soups when I wanted firm jelly. If you are willing to give yourself some grace if they don’t set up perfectly firm the first time, then go for it because let’s be honest, there’s nothing quite as rewarding as eating a homemade biscuit with jelly that you made yourself.
What size jars should I use?
Jars come in several standard sizes and two variations of mouth size. You should choose the jar that best fits your need and purpose.
- 4 ounce – Quarter Pint
- 8 ounce – Half Pint
- 16 ounce – Pint
- 32 ounce – Quart
Jar Opening Sizes
- Wide Mouth Jars – particularly good for pickles, okra, or any chunky type of food.
- Regular Jars – versatile jars for regular canning
Examples of How I use different size jars
- Typically, the quarter pint jars are best used for jellies that we want to share as gifts.
- Half-pint jars are perfect for jellies, and jams.
- In our family, the pint-size jars are the perfect size for corn, salsa, or pickles.
- I prefer quart-size jars for green beans that I will cook in the Instant Pot, broth, or diced tomatoes.
Are you a seasoned canner or just starting the fun journey of food preservation? Wherever you are on the path, canning your own food is super satisfying!