Home canning can not only be a great way to preserve food but it can also be time saving and economical. But, if you are not ready to can with the equipment on hand it can mean that food doesn't get put up at its peak or that it becomes a hassle.
- Jars. I know that some of the fancy jars with glass lids and rubber gaskets are sexy and popular but I only use those for super special items or they can transform the seemingly ordinary refrigerator pickle into a gourmet delight! But for day to day canning I use Ball or Kerr jars.
Having lots of sizes and shapes can make loading a canner take more time or fewer jars fit. So, for "production canning" I stick to ordinary jars. I keep a supply of 1/4 pint and 1/2 pint jars for jams and fancy chutneys then pint and quart jars for pickles, tomatoes, beans, sauces, and soups. I also have collected vintage 12 oz jars; these have a regular mouth and are perfect for fancy fruit preserves or that special batch.
It can be very helpful to note on your recipes how much food you prepped for canning, what size jars you used, and the yield! Next time you are going to can peaches you know exactly what to expect: how many jars to wash and sterilize and how much canning space you need to be ready to use in your canner and counter. I even note the time I spend on a canning recipe. I know that I can bang out apricot jam after dinner in less than an hour but that tomato sauce takes 8 hours.
Where to get jars? Ask around! Thrift stores, garage sales, estate sales, craigslist. The majority of our jars were sourced for 25 cents or less per jar. Maybe a friend who started canning but doesn't have time will swap jars for canned goods. Be sure to check jars for nicks and cracks.
- Lids. We use Ball or Kerr lids. I've used Tattler plastic lids and rubber gaskets. I use Ball and Kerr lids are made in the USA and are BPA-free, they are a fraction of the cost of Tattler lids, and the failure rate with Ball and Kerr lids is next to zero. While Tattler lids do eliminate the waste of the lids that can only be used once--the failure rate just doesn't work for in my situation. Used metal lids can be used for dry storage or passed on to someone who wants to use them for dry storage.
- Rings. Again Ball or Kerr. The rings can be used over and over provided that they are not rusty. Store them in a dry location. I use a plastic tote to store rings but a ribbon or coat hanger can be a great way to store them as well. Honestly, during canning season I find that I use the towel rack over the sink for rings. I've also used wine bottles as handy holders during a canning session or keeping them out and neat--we open, store, wash, and dry rings daily--so an empty wine bottle is handy for the rings! Store your canned goods without the ring: rings can rust and compromise the lid with corrosion and rings can hide a failed seal.
- Water bath canner. Be sure to have a jar rack for your water bath canner.
- Pressure canner. If you have a canner that has a gasket or requires pressure calibration be sure to check both of these ahead of the busy canning season. I use and highly recommend an All American pressure canner. I use model 930 which can accommodate 18 pint jars. The 921 was my second choice. If you are canning meat, poultry, or fish the entire process is so time consuming that fitting twice as many jars is a huge bonus with the 930! If you have a dial gauge canner, be sure to have the dial checked annually.
- Towels. Towels for protecting the counter. [Don't do this: Towels to cover hot jars to help them cool down slowly. But, do keep jars away from drafts while they are cooling.] Lint free towel for cleaning jar lips.
- Jar lifter. Impossible to lift hot jars out of hot water with your bare hands!
- Chop stick. I have used all sorts of things for removing air bubbles. I love chop sticks for removing air bubbles!
- Funnel. I didn't mention this in the podcast as it is super useful but I have known super experienced canners that didn't use a funnel. But, using a funnel means less work cleaning the jar lips.
- Thermometer. Not essential but useful if you are making jelly.
- Salt. Kosher salt, canning salt, sea salt. Be sure to avoid pouring agents or anti-caking agents.
- Sugar. Evaporated cane sugar or the evil white granulated sugar. I use both. I've found the that evaporated cane sugar can impart a less than wonderful molasses like taste to more delicate jams, jellies, and syrups.
- Pectin. If you use pectin, have some on hand. Apples can be a suitable substitute for packaged pectin.
- Special thanks to Dale, Nia, Kiki, and Steph for all the love and support!
- Aaron Glasson, Permaculture Velocity logo
- Music: Hollow Grove by Doxent Zsigmond featuring Josh Woodward, digccmixter, licensed under Creative Commons 3.0
- And to all those podcasters out there sharing good information on podcasting for those of us just getting going with this podcast thing! Thank you!