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Home canning lets you preserve fresh food to enjoy all year, whether it's a basket of local strawberries or a row of homegrown carrots. Canning supplies help you safely seal jars of food using heat, pressure, or both, so they can be stored at room temperature. You'll want some canning tools for every project, while others are only required when processing certain types of foods.
Before buying supplies, think about what you want to preserve. Low-acid foods, including meat, poultry, seafood, and non-pickled vegetables, need a pressure canner. High-acid foods, such as fruits and pickles, can be sealed using a water-bath or steam canner.
By choosing the right type of canner, learning to use it properly, and following a tested canning recipe, you can feel confident that your jars of home-preserved food will be safe and delicious to eat. Whether you're a novice canner gathering your first supplies or an experienced preserver upgrading your tools, several accessories simplify the canning process.
Here are the best canning supplies.
Best Pressure Canner: Presto 01784 23-Quart Pressure Canner and Cooker
Works on all cooktops
Dial gauge needs occasional recalibration
If you want to can beef stew, creamed corn, and other low-acid foods, invest in a pressure canner. This device uses ultra-high heat and pressure to safely seal jars. Presto's sturdy 23-quart model holds 20 pint-sized or seven quart-sized jars, making it ideal for large batches. The dial gauge helps you adjust the pressure for your altitude, the air vent and cover lock help control pressure, and the rack holds jars off the pot's bottom.
Presto's 01784 model has a stainless steel-clad base, so you can use it on any cooktop. If you'll only be canning on a gas and electric stove, the all-aluminum version (model 01781) comes with a lower price tag.
Best Water-Bath Canner: Roots & Branches Stainless Steel Multi-Use Canner
Reversible rack for water-bath or steam canning
For just high-acid foods, like raspberry jam and dill pickles, a water-bath canner will see you through. The Roots & Branches Harvest 20-quart canner holds eight pint-sized or seven quart-sized jars and features a flat, stainless steel bottom suitable for all cooktops.
This multi-use canner has two processing options for high-acid foods: water-bath canning or steam canning. On traditional stoves, fill it with water and submerge a rack of jars to seal them. On glass or induction cooktops, set the jars on the reversible rack above the water and let them steam closed. In the glass lid, a temperature indicator reacts to the steam's heat and tells you when to start your processing time.
This canner has been rebranded from Victorio, a household name in home canning. It’s still available from some retailers with the older packaging.
Best Rack: Progressive International Prepworks Reversible Stainless Steel Canning Rack
Divided to help keep jars upright
Two racks would allow stacking
Only holds four quart-sized jars
Canning kettles should come with a rack that keeps jars from rattling against the bottom of the pot and breaking. A second rack helps you stack small jars in large pressure canners, convert a big stockpot into a water-bath canner, or just upgrade your setup to stainless steel.
Progressive's reversible rack has a 10.25-inch diameter, so it slides into most 16-quart and larger pots. It stands 2 inches high, so your pot will need to be at least 12 inches deep to safely hold four quart-sized jars underwater. The rack's divided rings help to keep jars from tipping.
Best Jars: Ball Wide Mouth Pint 16-Ounce Glass Mason Jar With Lids and Bands, 12-Count
Lids are not reusable for canning
To can food, you'll need the classic trio: glass jars, lids, and rings. Newell Brands makes both Ball and Kerr products, today's household names in Mason jars. For easy purchase, flats of canning jars come with reusable rings and single-use lids in a complete, reliable setup.
Pint jars land in the middle of canning sizes; quart jars are favored by those with large families, while half-pint and 4-ounce sizes are ideal for gifting. Wide-mouth pints tend to be the most versatile and easiest to fill. Ball and Kerr also offer narrow-mouth jars in all sizes, as well as replacement ring and lid packages and boxes of single-use lids.
The increased interest in home gardening and preserving in 2020 produced a nationwide shortage of lids, jars, canners, and other supplies that has spilled into 2021. The shortage has led to price gouging by some retailers and sales of off-brand lids falsely labeled as Ball or Kerr by others. Ball recommends using its shortlist of authorized retailers to ensure you receive genuine Ball or Kerr products.
Best Set: Norpro 6-Piece Canning Set
More tools than you may need
Great for first-time canners, or when the old tools are looking ragged or have gotten lost, this set has six tools that make canning faster, easier, and safer. Even better, buying them in a set is a bargain compared to buying one at a time.
The magnetic lifter retrieves jar lids and rings from hot water after they’ve been sterilized, while the jar lifter can retrieve empty or full jars safely. The funnel keeps the jars neat and clean while filling, and the bubble popper doubles as a measuring tool to make sure jars aren’t over-filled. The jar wrench will help open jars when it’s time to taste, and the long tongs are useful for grabbing foods for canning or cooking.
Best Jar Lifter: Ball Secure-Grip Jar Lifter
Canning means repeatedly lifting glass jars in and out of boiling water. Just the thought of using pasta tongs, oven mitts, or bare hands will convince you to add a jar lifter to your canning supplies.
The key feature of Ball's Secure-Grip model is a spring-loaded hinge that makes one-handed use a snap. The wide-top grip feels secure in your hand and around the jar. These features do bulk up the design, which can make it challenging to slide the last jar in and the first jar out of a fully-loaded canner.
Best Funnel: Progressive Canning Funnel
Fits narrow- and wide-mouth jars
Gives headspace measurements
Once a canning funnel enters your kitchen, you'll find it useful for everything from filling jars with boiling jelly to building Mason jar salads. It's an essential canning tool because a clean jar rim goes a long way toward ensuring a secure lid-to-jar seal.
Progressive's Prepworks model takes the standard canning funnel and upgrades it with a couple of features that would have made your grandmother envious. The double-walled design and extended outer wall help even the messiest canners reduce drips and spills. Measurements marked on the outer rim make it easy to see when you've hit your headspace target.
Best Digital Scale: Taylor Precision Products Compact Digital Scale
Measures ounces and grams
Holds up to 11 pounds
Wide bowls hide the measurement display
A digital scale may initially live among your canning supplies, but will quickly find a home with your everyday kitchen tools. Taylor has been making accuracy tools since the 1850s. Its newest compact digital scales have a low profile and take up little space.
If you want to know how many pounds of green beans you harvested and how many grams of salt you need to pickle them, you'll appreciate the 1020NFS model. It switches between U.S. customary and metric measurements at the touch of a button and marks small increments up to 11 pounds. The stainless steel platform is removable for easy cleaning.
Best Cookbook: Ball Canning Back to Basics: A Foolproof Guide to Canning Jams, Jellies, Pickles, and More
Clear, simple instructions and recipes
Helpful photos for beginners
Only covers water-bath canning
Ball has been publishing canning books for about as long as it's been making jars—it's first home canning book hit shelves in 1909. Today's collection includes "Back to Basics," a user-friendly volume for novice canners and experienced professionals alike.
This 100-recipe book packs in basic information to ensure safe processing and straightforward recipes for everything from pear preserves to tomato sauce, and the numerous photos focus on helpful how-to shots. The book is specific to high-acid and added-acid foods, so you'll need to look elsewhere for instructions and recipes for pressure canning.
Start your canning adventures by deciding whether you need the Presto Pressure Canner (view at Amazon) for low-acid foods or the Roots & Branches Stainless Steel Multi-Use Canner (view at Amazon) for high-acid ones. If you're set up with the basics, but need a convenient package of accessories, grab a Norpro Canning Set (view at Amazon).
What to Look for in Canning Supplies
Decide what you want to preserve, and then choose the right canner for that food. You only need to invest in a pressure canner if you want to can vegetables without pickling them or jar up meats, including stocks and soups. Fruit, including jams, jellies, and pickled vegetables, can be processed in a boiling water bath.
For large batches, it's worth buying a water-bath or steam canner. Small batches of fruit and pickles can be processed in any large stockpot as long as it has a lid, you put a canning rack in it, and it's tall enough that at least 1 inch of water covers the jars without boiling over.
Pressure canners can come in several styles, but they need to hold at least four quart-sized jars and meet other U.S. Department of Agriculture guidelines for safe processing.
Generally, pressure cookers are too small for safe canning.
Both pressure canners and water-bath canners come in a range of sizes. Larger canners hold more jars; they may also be big enough that you can seal up quart jars or a double layer of smaller jars. Small canners only let you preserve a few small jars at a time, but they weigh less, especially when full, and take up less storage space.
Canners can last years when kept clean and stored dry. Some pressure canners have gauges and gaskets that need to be tested or replaced regularly.
Glass canning-specific jars can be reused endlessly if they are free of chips and cracks. Canning rings are also reusable until they rust or become damaged.
Canning lids that look like flat, tin-plated discs are single-use products. This type of lid cannot be safely reused for canning.
How do you sterilize canning jars?
Wash all canning equipment, including jars, lids, and rings, in hot, soapy water before use. Empty canning jars should also be sterilized for recipes, like jam or relish, that are processed for less than ten minutes (before your altitude adjustment). Put them upright in your water-bath canner, add warm water to cover the jars by an inch, bring it to a boil, and let it boil for ten minutes (plus one minute for every 1,000 feet above sea level). The jars are ready to use and can be processed in the same hot water.
Can you reuse canning lids?
The flat tin-plated discs sealed onto canning jars in a water-bath or pressure canner cannot be reused for canning. These lids have been designed to seal only once, but they’re not immediately trash. Pair them with the reusable rings and glass jars to store leftovers in your refrigerator, dried beans or rice in your pantry, or dried herbs and spices on your spice rack.
What is canning salt?
Canning salt, also known as pickling salt, has one ingredient: salt. It dissolves easily and lets canned food and brine stay bright and clear. If you see other ingredients on the packaging, like iodine or anticaking agents, set that salt aside for something other than canning. It’s best to use the kind of salt specified in a canning recipe because every type and brand has a different “saltiness” when you’re measuring in tablespoons and cups.
How do you seal canning jars?
Canning jars seal when a vacuum is created. When you fill a jar, set a lid on it, and screw on a ring until it's finger-tight, you’re holding the lid in place, not sealing the jar. In the canner, oxygen escapes the jar, so when you pull it out and let it cool undisturbed, the lid seals to the jar. Once sealed, the ring no longer has a job, so you can remove, clean, and store it separately until your next canning session.
What is the difference between pressure canning and water-bath canning?
Pressure canning uses pressure and ultrahigh heat, whereas water-bath canning uses boiling water. Both techniques safely seal jars, but they use different processes to safely preserve different types of food. High acid—whether natural like in berries or added like in pickles—neutralizes unwanted microorganisms and bacteria, so proper processing in boiling water is enough to make the food safe. Low-acid food needs pressure and ultrahigh heat to kill bacteria, so it must be pressure canned for a specific time under a specific pressure.
Why Trust The Spruce Eats?
This roundup was written by Julie Laing, who has been a writer and editor for more than 25 years. She currently specializes in home canning, pickling, sourdough baking, and generally making good food from scratch year-round. She published her first cookbook, "The Complete Guide to Pickling," in 2020.