Canning Supplies: Everything You Need to Start Preserving Food
If you have a grandmother, you have probably heard of this and definitely have gotten many of them over the years. Canning has been around since the dawn of time….basically. In all seriousness, canning is a terrific way to keep and preserve food. However, if you are going to start canning, there are some specific canning supplies you need. It is a lot more than just putting food into a can, sealing it and putting it in your basement in wait for the oncoming apocalypse. Canning is a process that requires the use of certain canning supplies for it to work correctly.
If you are thinking about starting canning, odds are you are either gearing up for the end, for it is nigh….or you are trying to live a self sustainable life off the grid, or just trying to save some cash by preserving food. Or for your own personal reasons. Whatever the reason is, canning is a pretty great thing, that has been around for ages. In case you are still trying to figure out what canning is, here is the definition. Canning is the method of preserving food in which the food contents are processed and sealed in an airtight container.
To correctly can food, you can not just throw the veggies or fruits in a glass jar and store them. No matter what, even if the food is in an airtight container, it can still spoil and go bad. To ensure that does not happen, it has to be done at very high temperatures for a fairly long period of time. This is because the heat kills any microorganisms and inactivates enzymes that could cause the food to spoil.
To many people, the question is why can when you can just go to the store and buy anything you would ever need? Well, for most it is a matter of convenience. Imagine it is the middle of winter and your car is snowed in. There is no way for you to get to the store and get whatever you may need. However, your basement is stocked with canned fruits and veggies that can help you weather out the storm. For others, it is a matter of survival. If you are living a self sustainable life, you don’t go to the store to get the things you need. Canning becomes your new way of life.
How Canning Works
Before jumping into the list of canning supplies, it is important for you to understand how canning actually works. Plus, the more you learn, the more confident you will be when you actually set out to do it. This is specifically important when preserving food. When you preserve food, you are either trying to literally freeze time (for that piece of food) or you are trying to encourage certain types of bacteria to thrive and kill off harmful ones.
When talking about canning, there are many different methods you can put to use, but by far the simplest is water bath canning. Obviously the main component for the canning supplies you’ll need for this method is a water bath canner. But we’ll get into that later. With water bath canning, all you have to do is fill your cans with acidic foods like tomatoes, berries, or cucumbers in vinegar, cover them with the lids, and boil them in an open pan of water until a seal forms under the lid. This action forces air out of the food as well as out of the jars, creating a vacuum. A vacuum in an acidic environment is a place that bacteria can not survive.
Of course, that is not the only method, but it is a great place to start. Especially if you want jams, jellies, whole tomatoes, and pickles. One of the more advanced forms of canning is called pressure canning. However, with this method you will need a bit more skill as well as some specialized canning supplies. But, it can unlock a whole new dimension of food and flavor options.
Depending on the method you are planning on using, the canning supplies needed will be different. However, I am going to list all of the supplies associated with canning in general. This way, you will be prepared for whatever method you plan on using.
Water Bath Canner:
- This device is basically a big metal pot with a lid. It is great for canning fruits or veggies and other foods with a high acidity. The most common size for these is 21-quarts but you can probably find larger ones if needed. If you buy one second hand, make sure it still has its lid and rack. You can buy them separately, but they can get fairly expensive.
- This is the other more advanced method mentioned above. It is much more complex than the simple water bath, however it can handle a lot more. For instance, this pressure cooker can allow you to can meats and even seafood, along with other low-acidic foods. Most pressure cookers are capable of reaching incredibly high temperatures like 240 degrees fahrenheit.
- The water bath and pressure cooker are the two methods used for canning in general. But there are a bunch of other canning supplies that are useful and required for properly canning your food. A canning rack is one of those canning supplies. Basically what it does it hold the jars while the canning process is underway. Usually, they are made of metal, but you can also find plastic versions. However they are not nearly as sturdy or hold as many jars.
- To store your canned food, you will actually need glass jars, not cans. You can also use plastic, however the glass ones work far better and you will not have to worry about any BPA or other toxins that could be in the plastic.
- Basically just metal tongs with rubber at the grabby end for grip, jar lifters are one of two ways to retrieve your extremely hot jars out of the canner. No way of getting them out otherwise.
Magnetic Jar Lifter:
- Here is the second method of getting your jars out of the canner. It looks like a stick with a strong magnet at the end of it. It can securely latch onto your jar lid and safely lift it from the canner. These work much better than the tongs.
Wide-Mouth Canning Funnel:
- One of the more convenient canning supplies, this is used to help get the food into the cans. Just stick it on top of the jar, and pour your food in. Makes things a lot less messy and much faster in terms of filling your jars. They come in stainless steel and plastic, though the steel is more reliable and durable. It should never have to be replaced.
- This is actually an ingredient more than part of the canning supplies but it is necessary nonetheless. Ever wonder how companies get jams and jellies to get that gelatin texture to them? Spoiler, it's Pectin. Well, they might have a different method but that is what Pectin is used for. Pectin is a liquid or powder that is added to jams, jellies, and other fruit spreads to make them gel. It is usually derived from citrus peel or apples. You can buy Pectin as individual packets or in larger containers. In fact, the larger containers actually turn out to be cheaper in the long run. You can buy a different type of pectic for your specific project. Low sugar, no sugar, even a special freezer pectin for freezer jam.
- Of course, if you are not making jelly or jam you will not need this. However, it is required for those projects. Just clip it onto a bowl or pot, and pour your jelly through the strainer bag to remove all the seed and other solid items.
- These are great if you plan on making your own apple sauce or tomato sauce, or really any kind of sauce. Makes easy work of separating the seeds and skins from your sauce. Also works for jellies too.
- If you do not own anything related to canning, a good idea would be to buy a full canning kit. A typical one would include the water bath canner, jar rack, strainer, jar lifter tongs and magnetic lifter, funnel, and even a jar lid twister which is great for opening or closing the lids of jars.
- Of course, no kitchen is complete without at least one cookbook. There are a lot of home preserving cookbooks that you can buy. Some will include instructions, tips, and countless recipes.
These are all of the very standard canning supplies that you will probably need to start off your canning adventure. Of course, there are bound to be other and more advanced options for you to choose from. But these are the basics. There are other supplies that you will need to prepare your food such as juicers, steamers, fermenters, and the like. However, they are easy to find on your own. In fact, almost all of these canning supplies and anything else you might need, you can find on Amazon. Amazon pretty much has anything you could ever think of.
Why is Canning Food so Great?
There are a lot of reasons why canning your food is a good idea. However, the reason why people do it is always different, depending on the person. But there are a lot of benefits to canning your own food. Here are a few of the best benefits that just may get you to go out and buy those canning supplies.
Buying food in a can often discourages and worries some people. This is because there are so many reports out there that are conflicting and people end up not knowing what to think. One says they are bad, another says they are good, this one says there are pros and cons to canned food. One major concern is the presence of BPA in many commercial canned foods. If you want to play it safe, but also want your food to last a while, preserving your food is a good start.
If you are constantly stocking up on canned foods, you are consuming a lot of metal. If that metal is not being recycled after you use it, that leads to a lot of waste. This ends up furthering land and water pollution which is never good. By canning and preserving your food, especially by using the stainless steel versions of the canning supplies, you reduce the waste produced overall. Since those mason jars are 100% reusable, the environmental impact by canning is very minimal.
Money makes the world go round and I know everyone is always looking for ways to spend less. Buying produce in season when it is cheap and preserving it for later is a great way to do just that. When stuff is out of season, like bananas or avocados in the winter (then again avocados are expensive either way) they get pretty pricey. Buying fruits and veggies that are in season and canning them is a great way to reduce your spending at the grocery store.
For many people who live off the grid or are trying to live a self sustainable life, canning is the best thing in the world. It makes things so much more convenient for them to can food and save it so you do not have to worry about feeding yourself during the winter months. For those of you who are not in that category, it can still be a convenient way to save food you have extra of.
With the way the world is going right now, it may be a good idea to stock up on food. By canning your own food and preserving it, you can rest assured that when North Korea gets fed up with Trump constantly poking the bear, you will be safe and sound in your bunker with plenty of food. Or you know, in case of extreme weather events like hurricanes, snow storms, droughts that wipe out harvests, or floods that do the same. It is always a good idea to be prepared for any scenario.
Arm Yourself With the Best Canning Supplies
Whatever your reason for starting to preserve food, you can be sure that you are making a great, fun and tasty decision. But before you strive out on your own, be sure you have the right canning supplies needed to aid you on your quest for great jam! Buy yourself a cookbook and maybe watch a few tutorial videos, they never hurt. Follow the directions, buy the necessary ingredients and the right canning supplies and get to it Martha Stewart! (Just don’t go full Martha Stewart and end up in jail please...never go full Martha Stewart.)