Now that I know a thing or two about water bath canning, I thought I’d share a few tips I learned this year from doing it.
Is is worth it?
In short, canning your own food is well worth it if the stuff you’re using is on sale or free (like from a garden). Buying regular-priced produce, canning jars and lids, and spending the time doing it will not save you anything. However, canning is essential if you have limited storage space but really cheap produce.
I canned over 40 jars this year of various brands, and not one of them failed me. A few tips to keep in mind before you start:
- You can use a stock pot to water-bath can. There is nothing special about a “real” canner except that it has a handy rack for lifting the jars out.
- Extra canning tools aren’t essential, but they are recommended. I have a jar lifter, head space gauge/bubble remover, and lid wand. All of these tools are pretty cheap at Walmart.
- Don’t use any jars that aren’t canning jars. Used canning jars are okay as long as they don’t have cracks or chips.
- Sugar and salt are not necessary to preserve the food, but they can help with color preservation.
- Don’t reuse the seals unless you have reusable ones. They exist, but I haven’t tried them. They cost more up front that the single-use kind.
- Don’t forget to adjust for high altitude! I have to add 10 minutes on processing times because I live at 5,000-ish feet. It never hurts to process something a little longer if you’re not sure.
How I usually do things:
- Prepare the recipe of whatever I’m making.
- Fill the canner with hot water and heat the jars in it.
- Heat the lids on low.
- Set up a clean towel with all my canning tools.
- Fill the hot jars with hot food and wipe the rims, put the lids on, put them back in the canner, and process them.
- When they’re done, I put them on the counter on a clean cloth until they cool. Then, I label them with a Sharpie.
- *Note: You can heat the jars in the dishwasher, but I think it saves time to just put them in the canner since I need it to be boiling anyway. That much water takes a long time to boil.
Find my canning recipes by clicking on the tag “water bath canning”.