Buying a Water Bath Canner And Other Canning Supplies
If you're just getting started, you're probably wondering what kind of canning equipment you need to buy.
There are several pieces that are pretty necessary for canning, one of which is a water bath canner. Besides this, you'll need
as well as a jar wrench, canning tongs, and of course a funnel. But thankfully, all of these are one-time purchases; so once you've bought it you'll never have to buy it again! Good news, too, since it can be expensive.
The facts about canners
You may have heard the terms water bath canner, steam canner, pressure canner, and pressure cooker thrown around a lot. There is a definite distinction between these terms that is important for you to know before you buy a canner.
A water bath canner is a large pot that is specifically designed for canning high-acid foods (such as fruits and jams). Water bath canning is completely submerging jars of food in water and boiling them for a period of time. Basically, it's just a large pot with a rack at the bottom where the jars sit.
It is only safe to can high-acid foods (like fruits) this way - never low acid foods.
This is an excellent water bath canner that will hold a load of 7 quart jars. We do not personally own this canner, but have heard very good reviews on it.
Of course, the most cost-effective way to water bath can and pressure can is by using a pressure canner that doubles as a water bath canner. (Check out the canner below.)
However, if water bath canner is all you need, than this might be a good option for you!
A pressure canner
is heavy duty stainless steel pot that is made for the rigors of pressure canning. Since pressure canning is an intense process (because a lot of steam and pressure build up inside), the walls of the canner are made to endure years of this kind of activity. It has a heavy lid with a rubber seal that will prevent any air from coming or going during the canning process. It, too, has a rack at the bottom for the jars to sit on.
Pressure canning is for low-acid foods (like vegetables, meats, and beans).
There are two kinds of pressure canners; those with a dial and those with a weighted gauge. Both are easy and equally safe, so it is more a matter of preference than anything.
Buy a pressure canner
We have owned this pressure canner for about three years and love it! We have never had any problems with it.
You can place 7 quarts in it at a time, and it comes with a rack, dial gauge, lid, and owner's manual.
This is a dial gauge pressure canner, and it also doubles as a pressure cooker, as well as a water bath canner. So you have three great ways to use it!
The canner is well worth the money you spend on it; remember that you only have to buy a canner once. It's a one time purchase.
A steam canner
is also a large pot that has two pieces: a top and a bottom. You place your jars in the bottom (on a rack) and then place the top "cover" on top. Steam canning is another way of preserving whereby a small amount of water is heated in the base, and then the jars are placed on the base and covered with the dome. When steam rises out of the small holes on the base, you must begin to time your processing time.
Now, there is quite a bit of controversy when it comes to steam canning. Many people think it is perfectly safe and claim they have never gotten sick from it. However, USDA has declared it to be an untested and unsafe method of canning, because the temperature does not rise as high as even water bath canning, resulting in the possibility of food that was not properly preserved.
A pressure cooker
is not and should not be used for canning. It is simply a large cooker that rises to a very high temperature and speeds up the cooking of otherwise slow-cooked foods.
There are, however, pressure cookers that are specifically designed to double as a pressure canner, and this is perfectly safe. It's only when a piece of equipment is used for something other than it was created for that you run into trouble.
Other canning equipment
There are several more things you will need for canning - below is a list of pretty much every canning tool that is on the market today!
are an obvious necessity! They come in various sizes such as half gallon, quart, one and a half pint, pint, and half pint. There are many sizes to choose from. The most commonly used size for canning, however, is quart and pint. You will find that these two sizes will work nicely for the most commonly canned foods, such as jams, fruits, or vegetables.
Canning jars come in flats - large boxes that contain 12 jars. They always come with lids and rings.
Canning tongs are an invaluable tool. They are used for grasping the mouth of a jar to transport it either in or out of a hot canner. The handles are coated with rubber, making it a comfortable tool to handle.
Canning funnel is used to avoid potential messes and spills when you're filling your jars with food. Instead of ladling hot food in a jar and wiping up splatters later, let the funnel take care of the mess! We use this particular tool a lot when filling jars with hot jam or jelly.
Lid lifter this is very convenient for keeping your new lids sanitary and clean. This little rod has a magnet attached to the bottom of it, allowing you to pick up and attach lids to your jars without ever touching the lids with your hands. This lifter will work on both wet or dry lids -
remember, you may want to wash your lids before using them.
Headspace measurer is similar to a ruler, only it is used for canning and has specific measurements on the end. It provides an easy way to check how full your jars should be. As you can see from the picture, each stair-step is marked with a measurement. If your recipe tells you to leave a headspace of 1/2 inch, simply hook your tool on your jar and see how things measure up.
What is headspace?
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