Having the right tools for preserving food at home is important. Learn how to choose food canning supplies including storage ideas in this beginner’s guide.
Growing up, we never canned our own food even though we had a nice-sized garden. I was actually introduced to the idea of canning our food by my husband, Brian, almost 2 years ago. Growing up, his mom always canned food from their garden, so we decided it was something we wanted to do.
We started simple by making broth from chicken, turkey or beef bones and canning it. Then, we started canning the soups we make every fall and winter (we tend to have perpetual soups going in the colder months).
After that, I started picking up extra produce when it’s on sale so I am able to can it. There’s nothing worse than having to drag myself to the grocery store when there’s a couple feet of snow on the ground!
Canning is a great way to stock extra food in your pantry. I especially love it because the food is canned in glass jars rather than BPA-lined cans.
In this post, I’m sharing a list of the canning supplies we have for pressure canning (the only safe method at our altitude) as well as what you’ll need for the water bath method if you want to start there.
Pressure canning is the only method recommended as safe by the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) for canning vegetables, meats, poultry and seafood. Here are the supplies you’ll need for pressure canning
Quality Pressure Canner
The first thing you’ll need is a good pressure canner. There are a lot of expensive ones out there, and I’m sure they’re great, but we’re very happy with our Presto pressure canners. They’re affordable, made well and they work great. We have 16 quart and 23 quart canners. You only need one, but we have found having 2 works well for us.
The instruction book that comes with these canners is outstanding. You can buy canning recipe books, but there are enough recipes and instructions in the instruction book to get you started.
Canning Tools and Utensils
You’ll also want a set of special utensils to help you safely and easily handle hot jars and lids, fill jars, measure headspace and remove air bubbles. There are a variety of sets out there, but we have the Ball Utensil Set and it has worked well for us (plus it’s affordable).
It includes a jar funnel, jar lifter, lid lifter and bubble remove/headspace tool. We didn’t have these tools the first time we canned, and we immediately went out and bought a set afterwards. It’s a must-have.
Canning Jars, Lids and Bands
And of course, you’ll need canning jars and extra lids. The two most common brands are Ball and Kerr. I most often can with wide-mouth quart jars, but you can get regular mouth ones as well as pints, half pints and even gallons and half gallons.
While your jars will come with canning lids, those can’t be reused so you’ll need to buy extras to have on-hand (the rings can be reused). You can buy the standard canning lids or reusable canning lids (which are BPA free).
Labels for Your Jars
You’ll want something to label those jars with what’s in them and when they were canned. I had previously been using printer labels, but I bought these dissolvable labels and use those exclusively now because they wash off so easily!
Water Bath Canning
Water bath canning is a safe method for preserving things like fruits, jams, jellies, pickles and salsa (but not at certain altitudes like ours). You can actually water bath can with the Presto 23-Quart Canner as well, so that’s a great option if you want to be able to preserve foods through both methods.
If you wanted to water bath can with the pressure cooker, you still need all of the items listed above. However, if you only plan to can things that can be preserved in water bath, water bath canners are usually less expensive than pressure canners.
However, if you see yourself wanting to preserve vegetables, meats, poultry or seafood at any point, I suggest investing in the pressure cooker.
Mason Jar Storage
We typically just put the mason jars back into the boxes they came in, but I stumbled upon a really cool way to store your jars if you need a way to easily stack them to save space.
Canning Supply List Recap for Beginners
At the very minimum, to get started, these are the items I recommend you get first:
- Large Pressure Canner (or water bath pot if you prefer)
- Canning Utensil Set
- Wide-mouth quart jars
I highly recommend canning your own food. There’s nothing like the satisfaction of stocking your pantry with foods you have preserved yourself.