Congratulations! You have decided to preserve fruits and vegetables from your garden or local produce stand without using excess electricity (the freezer) and since you will wash and reuse your canning jars — you are not being wasteful. Think about how much money you spend on items such as stewed/diced tomatoes, salsa, vinaigrettes, spaghetti sauce, jams and jellies, and pickles. Also think about how many plastic freezer bags you throw away each week. If your household is anything like mine, those numbers are staggering.
For beginning canners, it is best to start by canning with a boiling water canner. I use my boiling water canner all the time. Because we have limited garden space thanks to uncooperative soil, I can’t plant rows of beans, peas, or other low acid foods. For now, I have to purchase them from local markets. While I have been known to use a pressure canner to preserve meats, green beans, and soups — I haven’t done this in a while due to scheduling conflicts! 🙂
Boiling water canners can either be purchased or made using supplies found in any kitchen. If you don’t have a wire rack to place in the bottom of the kettle (with fitting lid), that’s just fine because I’ll show you how to improvise. Boiling water canners and the racks sold with them look like this:
There are also a few tools which you will need to gather:
tongs, magnetic stick for lid grabbing, jar lifter, and a funnel (I like the wide mouth funnels for most canning projects but use a small mouth funnel for jellies and flavored vinegars)
You will also need canning jars, lids, and rings:
The jars and rings can often be found at yard sales and country stores.
While the lids may not be reused EVERYTHING else can: glass jars and rings.
Some foods like spaghetti sauce come in Mason jars.
Create Your Own Boiling Water Canner
As mentioned on the Jams, Jellies, and Preserves page, the general population no longer cans, bottles, or preserves fruits and vegetables so finding canning supplies is becoming more and more difficult. You can order them online or purchase them at estate sales, yard sales, thrift stores, and occasionally a feed/farm supply store but it is just as easy to make one in your kitchen. Here’s what you need:
- large sturdy kettle with lid
- a disposable pie pan
- two-pronged meat fork
Using the meat fork (on a cutting board), make holes in the pie pan in the bottom and around the sides. You may need to cut off the edge of the pie pan to fit into your kettle but this depends on the size of your kettle.
Place the pie pan in the bottom of the kettle upside down and fill with water according to the directions of your canning recipe. This homemade canner really only processes a few jars at a time. The jars must be upright during processing so be careful and don’t overload this little canner or your jars won’t seal properly.
Canning is a wonderful way to cut back on the waste associated with tin cans and freezer bags (which can be reused but are commonly thrown away). If you decide to make this canner, we ask that you email us a picture so we can post it on this site. We are greatly encouraged by your feedback. Those comments and pictures serve as proof that the urban and suburban homesteading community is growing.
More on canning to come!
Kathie - Great post! Though I’ve canned most of my life and never had one of those magnetic lid lifter things. I wouldn’t say it’s a must have for canning. I’ve always just used tongs to take the lids out of the water…
You can use extra canning rings on the bottom of a pot too to keep the jars from touching the bottom of the pot or even a towel. That pie plate is a great idea, hadn’t seen that before.
CrossView - We have actually done this and survived! LOL!
And a nice extra is that I use my empty jars for instant flower vases…
Tipper - Lacy-very nice canning tips!!
Tia Julie - I am so hungry now………………..
Lacy you definitely remind me of my beloved grandmother Ola, she could do anything and evrything!
Kath - Canning is the best!!! Some foods like sweet relish, dilly beans,whole tomatoes,on and on, just tastes sooo much better homemade.
I only use a pressure canner so needless to say I dont can fruit like peaches and the such. I dont know what I do wrng but I just dont have good luck with it.
I am missing your blog!! We are in WY and I can not read your blog via the Blackberry . I had a moment at the local library so took full advantage of it!!!
Robbyn - I love this post, Lacy, especially showing how to do it without having to buy expensive equipment!
CC - I’ve never canned anything but jam. My problem (besides time) is how expensive flats of fruit cost 🙁 Wish our peach tree was actually growing peaches!!
Applie - I haven’t canned anything in many years. I don’t have a great garden and the store bought produce is not worthy of canning. The only thing I ever did was make jams and jellys. It was fun. 🙂
Dawn - I do a lot of canning. Good idea for a homemade canner to get started on a project and test the waters. I have that red set of canning tool. I don’t often use the funnel. I find I like using a spouted measuring cup and it is one less step for me getting the stuff in the jar. I have used it and will again, but I can’t think of the exact situations I use it for.
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