Get ready to can your food safely! Here’s the list of essential home canning equipment you NEED, plus where to find it cheaply!
When it’s time to start preserving your garden produce, many homesteaders turn to canning. This home food preservation method makes your food shelf and pantry stable, easily be stored for a year or more, and makes meals that are easy to heat and eat. If the power is out, you can still consume your home canned food, just open the jar and you are ready for a hearty meal.
Canning has changed since your Great Grandma did it. For example, she would seal a jelly jar with wax instead of putting the jar in a water bath canner. Great Grandma may also have water bath canned her vegetables like green beans, potatoes, and peas. Today those foods are processed in a pressure canner. She may have also not worried about adding extra citric acid to her homegrown tomatoes. Life was different back then.
Frankly, so was the soil. Most of us deal with mineral depleted soil, especially when first starting out. Chemicals that eradicate weeds, and help the grass to grow are commonplace now. Even if you don’t do this yourself, runoff from your neighbor who DOES spray can and does happen. Those chemicals can ruin even the best garden soil if given the chance. We need to take different precautionary measures when we are home canning now because of this. Crossbreeding of seeds, hybrids, and even GMO can make all the difference in how we home can our food versus how Great Grandma did.
For example, tomatoes are not consistent with the amount of acid. Even heirloom tomatoes can change in acid levels from plant to plant, harvest to harvest. To keep your home canned tomatoes safe, adding lemon juice or powdered citric acid is important. If you choose not to add this, you will need to pressure can your tomatoes instead of water bath them to be safe.
What home canning equipment do you need?
- Water bath canner-for fruits, jellies, jams, salsa, applesauce and other high acid foods (tomatoes with added acid)
- Pressure canner-for low acid foods like green beans, meats, and broths (better safe than sorry!)
- Jars (1/2 pint, pint, 1 1/2 pint, quart, 1/2 gallon) in regular and wide mouth
- Bands (can be reused, as long as they are still in good shape)
- Lids (must be brand new each time, or you risk false seals or seal failures)
- The exception to the lids would be hard reusable ones
- Jar lifter to remove hot jars from canners
- Hot Pads to protect your hands
- Towels to set hot jars on to cool
- Timer for keeping track of processing time
Canning tools and equipment that are nice to have:
Where To Get Cheap Home Canning Supplies
Home canning equipment that is reusable such as jars, canners, and bands can be obtained quite cheaply if you know where to look. Try:
- Yard sales
- Estate Sales (often the best source, in my opinion)
- Thrift Stores
- Craig’s List
- Asking Great Grandma for her stash
- Amish Bulk Store
Some things to watch out for when purchasing used, cheap home canning supplies:
- Check for cracks in the jars, especially on the upper mouth
- Pressure canners should have working seals and all the weights
- Water bath canners need to be free from rust or holes in the bottom.
- Bands should be rust free, and in good, round shape
- Blue jars are pretty, but the metal lids that came with them will most likely need new gaskets.
Home canning equipment doesn’t have to cost an arm and leg to get started, either. Simply start with one canner, a few jars, and add to your collection when you can. Remember to can safely and enjoy your garden produce! Share in the comments your favorite piece of canning equipment and where you got it!