Canning, glorious canning. The best thing about canning is that the start-up doesn’t have to be outrageously expensive. There are some supplies that you need, and many others that are merely optional. Below, you can find the products that I use in my own kitchen. The links are to Amazon so that they’re accessible no matter where you live.
Most of the time, Amazon has the best prices on canners, Pomona pectin, and bulk quantity snap lids.
You can often find jars cheaper close to home. In fact, lots of my jars came from thrift stores and yard sales. Just be sure the rims aren’t chipped and that they’re actual canning jars. The ones that storebought products came in are usually made from thinner glass that may not withstand the heat of canning. At the end of fall, you can sometimes pick up snap lids inexpensively.
Water Bath Canners
This water bath canner is perfect for canning high-acid foods like jam, fruit, and pickles. The graniteware pot is lightweight and easy to handle.
Water bath canning is a great way to get started in your canning adventures.
This is the Big Mama of all pressure canners. It’s more expensive than other pressure canners, and for good reason. This big, heavy canner doesn’t have parts that will need to be replaced in the future. No gaskets or seals will wear out on this one because it has a locking mechanism that belies the need for those. I absolutely adore this canner.
One caveat – this canner is HEAVY. It weighs 24 pounds without any jars in it. If you have a full canner load of 7 quart jars, plus water, plus contents, you could be looking at more than 40 pounds. If you have any type of issue that makes it difficult for you to lift that much, this may not be the best choice for you.
The All-American should not be used on glass cooktops.
This was my very first canner so I’m quite fond of it. It is lighter than the All-American (only 10 pounds vs. the AA’s 24 pounds), which makes it a good solution for those who might have issues lifting a heavier, fully-loaded canner.
It holds 7 quart jars or 22 pint jars (stacked), and because it is tall, can be used to can in half gallon jars as well.
Pressure Canning When You have a Glass Cooktop
Glass cooktops are clean-looking and beautiful, but it’s not advised to can on them, particularly with a pressure canner. That is because the bottom of a pressure canner is flat and larger than the heat element in your cooktop. The lengthy cooking time can cause your cooktop to shatter from the weight and heat.
There are two solutions to this issue (that don’t include purchasing a new stove).
This particular pressure canner is approved for canning on most glass cooktops. It’s recommended that you check with the manufacturer of your stove before using this canner. It holds 7 quart jars and 10 pint jars. (It’s not tall enough for stacking.)
Because I have a glass cooktop in a rented home, this is the canner I use when I want to use the stove.
When purchasing an element, be sure that it is at least 1200 watts. Keep in mind that it may take longer for your water to boil on this burner, but once it’s boiling you will be able to maintain the pressure.This is the product that I use for my large canner.
Most people use racks for canning, and it’s definitely easier and less messy to do so. However, if you don’t have a canning rack, you can use a folded kitchen towel to keep your jars from making direct contact with the bottom of your canning pot.
This rack comes with new pressure canners but may need to be replaced if you’ve gotten an older cannner.
It lifts the jars slightly off of the bottom of the canner so that they don’t shatter from direct contact with the extreme heat.
These racks are designed for water bath canning. The wire framework keeps the jars from clanking together in the boiling water, and also lifts the jars off the bottom of the canning pot.
(Apparently the handles enable the person canning to lift the entire batch of jars out of the water at once but I’ve personally never had any luck with that maneuver.)
Some people call this an optional item but I think it’s more of a necessity for safe canning. A jar lifter is used to avoid burns when handling hot, filled jars.
You can use this for putting the jars in the water and removing them when your processing time is finished. I keep an extra jar lifter on hand.
I like this stainless steel type that doesn’t absorb odors or leach harmful petrocarbons into your food.
With most canning lids, it’s necessary to use a new lid each time you can. I prefer Ball snap lids because they don’t contain hormone-altering BPA, which can leach into your food during the canning process.
Amazon has incredibly good prices on bulk snap lids, making these high-quality lids less expensive than the cheap, exported lids at your local discount store.
Tattler lids are the exception to the “new lid every time you can” rule. They’re designed to be re-used almost indefinitely. They are far more expensive than the disposable lids, but the cost will be recouped over time.