Want to Start Canning? Here’s What You Need

by Miranda Marquit · 1 comment

During this recession, many aspects of frugal living have been making a comeback — and that includes home canning. If you have been gardening (another cornerstone of frugal living), and you have more fruits and vegetables than you know what to do with, it is possible to preserve them at home for use throughout the winter. Home canning can be a great — and frugal — way to store up food. You might need to spend $150 to $200 to get started, but once you are on your way, the savings begin to add up.

What You Need to Get Started with Home Canning

If you plan to can fruits and vegetables and other foods at home, you will need to get a canner. It is true that there are recipes floating around out there, called “open kettle”, that do not require a special canner. You can use these recipes with a large, boiling pot of water. However, it is important to note that the USDA does not recommend this method, and warns that the conditions under which this method is used can result in a higher likelihood of bacteria getting into the jars and ultimately causing food poisoning.

Canners are designed to keep the canning environment as sterile as possible, and reach temperatures to kill microorganisms. Most canners come with a lid and a rack. There are two main types of canners available, each usually costing around $55 if you buy new:

  1. Water Bath: This is used for high-acid foods, like tomatoes. Many fruits should be canned using a water bath canner.
  2. Pressure: A pressure canner is used for low-acid foods, including vegetables, meat and seafood. A pressure canner reaches temperatures in excess of 240 degrees Fahrenheit, and is able to rid the can and food of bacteria.

In addition to the right canners, you will need jars. You can buy glass canning jars for various prices at most grocery stores. You can also order them online. You can also find them for bulk discounts. In some cases the jars come with lids and rings. You can also buy lids and rings for your jars separately. It is important to note that lids should not be reused, since they may not re-seal properly. (Lids can be reused for storage with food items you don’t plan to preserve for a long time.) Jars and rings in good condition can usually be reused; buy new lids each year that you can. Jars, rings and lids are normally fairly inexpensive..

Some items that can make canning a little easier, but that you don’t actually need, include:

  • Jar Lifter: Prevents you from burning yourself as you lift jars out of the canner.
  • Lid Lifter: A magnetic lid lifter can help you easily grab lids out of boiling water.
  • Canning Funnel: A canning funnel with a wide neck can help you fill your jars faster and with a minimum of mess.
  • Recipe Book: If you want to know how to can, and if you want recipes for canned food, a canning recipe book can be a great resource. A good one is the Ball Complete Book of Home Preserving — from the folks that make glass jars.

If you are looking to preserve your produce, canning can be a great way to do it while increasing your home food storage. Once you spend the money to get the equipment you need, you can keep canning year after year fairly cheaply.

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{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Linda January 22, 2013 at 2:14 am

Thanks! My parents canned every year, (after they retired to the country). Being in an apartment, 3 kids and a “stay at home side job” (as we called it then), kept me from learning all about canning for myself. Once I was fortunate to retire to country living, both my parents, sadly, had passed away.

God Bless Be Well
Love your whole site!

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