For many of the basic tools needed, you may already have them in your kitchen. There are a few items that are made for canning that are needed but none are extremely costly and many can probably be found used. You will need basic items such as a cutting board, knives, spoons, bowls and even your stockpot.
Glass Canning Jars
There are many types of glass jars but for canning you want to use jars that are specifically made for canning, this is especially true in a pressure canner. You do not want to ruin your labor and your foods with jars breaking because they were not created to withstand the heat and pressure for the extended period of time.
It is helpful to have various sizes for various types of produce. Quart and pint jars are the most common, but there are also jelly jars that are 4 oz sizes and are perfect for jams, jellies and preserves. You can also choose between regular and wide mouth jars. Wide mouth jars are easier to fill with larger items as well as meats but really it is preference (or in my case, what I can find at the thrift store or from friends).
Depending on what type of canning you plan to do, you will need your canners. If you are just starting out, a water-bath canner is the least expensive. If you are purchasing new, they usually start to mark these down towards the end of summer but you can also look at thrift stores or even hardware stores. My sister was able to get a complete water-canning kit with utensils for $20 at Lowes.
Pressure Canners tend to be slightly higher but once you get into canning, they are totally worth the expense. I love that I can make and can my own beans, soup and stews even in the winter time. I love having something already made on the shelf that I made and not from a can.
Lid Wand-This is a long straight stick with a magnetic on the end. It is extremely helpful to be able to lift your lids out of the hot water and onto your jar without burning yourself or disturbing your seal by touching it. These are very inexpensive, usually only $2-$3 dollars.
Wide Mouth Funnel-This is very useful as it allows you to fill your jars without loosing your delicious food. Just remember not to overfill the jars. You want to leave the proper head space to allow your food to expand and don’t have a jar explode in your canner.
You will need either the two piece cap that has a lid and metal screw band or can use Tattler Reuseable lids. It is very important that you do not use the lids that are meant for a one time use! The screw bands that hold the cap down is reuseable, but not the cap itself.
A jar lifter while not an absolute necessity makes the canning job so much easier. It makes transferring your jars in and out of the boiling water much easier. It simply is used to grab on to the jar below the threaded part so it does not disturb the screw band or expose your skin to boiling water.
There are other tools that are also helpful but these are considered to be the basics that you can begin with. You can find many of these products locally at grocery stores, supermarkets, on Amazon and other online retailers. In the coming weeks we be discussing how to can using both the water-bath and pressure canners. Be sure to check back if you are interested in learning more about home canning.