Over the 16 months, many of my homestead’s kitchen essentials have been boxed up and put in the back of a closet. There are also some other things that I have either given away or sold. Sadly, my favorite canner was one of those items. Now that things are moving in a positive direction and we are getting ready to plant our garden and raise some meat chickens and pigs, it is time to pull those tools out of the closet. It is also time to purchase some much-needed new (or old) items. There really is no point in working toward our goal of raising 50-75% of our own food this year if I have no way to prepare or preserve it.
Home Canning Essentials
Water Bath Canner
Having a water bath canner (or more than one) is a must-have in our homesteading kitchen. When I was first starting out, I used a huge 30-quart stainless steel stockpot that I found at a yard sale. I still use this pot as a second canner if I am canning large batches and need to get done quickly. If you choose to use a stockpot, be sure to put a rack in the bottom of the pot and between any jars you are stacking. This allows the water to circulate better and keeps the jars away from direct heat which can lead to jar cracking or breaking.
If you are going to be canning low-acid foods, a pressure canner is a must. Without one, you are putting yourself and your family at risk of eating unhealthy, and often toxic food. It broke my heart the day I sold one of my favorite canners. I suppose I should have paid attention, knowing that one day God would bring us back to it. Fortunately, I did hold onto the very first canner D ever bought me and I’ll be able to use that to get back to business.
Canning Recipes and Books
I may be a risk taker, but I don’t take risks without following the rules. I like to see a list of do’s and don’t, but then I am also curious and want to know why xyz has to be the way xyz is. However, canning isn’t an area of my life that I’m willing to take risks. I am pretty adamant about following the guidelines to tried and true canning recipes.
Here’s a list of a few of my favorites:
- Ball Blue Book
- Ball Complete Book of Home Preserving
- Simply Canning: Survival Guide to Safe Home Canning
- Simply Canning Website
Canning Jars, Lids & Rings
Trust me when I say, you can never ever have enough canning jars and if someone tells you differently, you have my permission to ignore them. Seriously, canning jars can be used for so much more than simply canning. We have a variety of sizes here on our homestead that we use for all different kinds of things. You can store beans, rice, grains, sugar, salt, flour, juice, lard, raw milk, and countless other things in canning jars. Besides, they make pretty awesome glasses to drink from too. I say they are pretty versatile and frugal. I’m also going to pick up some of the plastic mason jar screw on caps. This way, I won’t have to spend money on plastic wrap or putting the yummy food inside into a different container for fridge storage.
Note: If you choose to purchase jars, lids, and/or rings used from online, yard sales, or thrift stores, be sure to check them out thoroughly. It is not unusual to find a great deal on jars only to unbox them and find they are all cracked, too old to can with, or some other kind of jar other than a canning jar, like mayo or spaghetti sauce jar.
Canning Tongs, Canning Magnet, Funnel, Rubber Spatula
Tongs help you grab hot jars that you are going to need to move in and out of your canners. I usually turn my canner on a lower setting before I start the actual canning process. This allows the water to heat up quicker, but it also is a great place to keep your jars warm until you are ready to fill with whatever you are canning. You can also use them to grab hot lids if you are like me and lose your canning lid magnet.
Wide mouth funnels have wide openings so you can pour hot liquid and food items into your jars without a lot of splashing and making a mess. There is nothing like having hot liquid splash up on your hands, arms, chest, or face. Using a ladle to spoon hot food into your warm jars can prevent injuries and messes. They do come in plastic but I personally prefer the stainless steel funnel D bought me for Christmas 2 years ago.
After spooning all that yumminess into your jars, air pockets will form. You’ll need to remove these and a handy tool to do this with is a rubber spatula.
There are kits available that include all these items, making a cheaper and more frugal option.
Dish towels are a necessity, not just to clean up spills, but so you have something to place under the jars on your countertop or table. Placing hot jars on a cooler counter could cause the jars to crack and break.
Strainers, peelers, food mills, blenders, and food processors are all necessary for the serious home canner. Besides, you need all these to meal prep and cook anyway, so they are absolutely dual purpose.