A Guide to Home Canning Tools & Equipment
Funnel, Magnetic Lid Wand, Jar Lifter & Non-Reactive Spatula
While technically optional, a funnel, magnetic lid wand and non-reactive spatula made for helping release air bubbles in your canning jars before processing makes canning work much easier. The funnel helps to keep the edges of your jars clean while you're filling them with your foods and allows you to work faster. The magnetic lid wand helps to make short (and burn-free) work of pulling lids from the hot water soak they require before using. The non-reactive spatulausually plastichelps to gauge headspace and release air bubbles in jars before processing. And last, but not least, the jar lifter is designed to help lift your jars out of the hot water once they're done processing. At this point the jars and water are both very hot and the jar lifter makes it easy to lift them out without dropping a jar or getting burnt. This will reduce leakage and breakage. All four tools can be purchased as part of canning starter sets in most stores. Look near the canning jars.
Large Bowls, Pots & Pans
Many recipes require holding, mixing and even cooking down of some of the ingredients. Whether you're blanching tomatoes or mashing berries for jam, a few non-reactive (glass or stainless steel works great) mixing bowls and a couple large pots and pans makes short work of most canning recipes. These can be the same mixing bowls you use to make cookies and the same pots you use to whip up a quick spaghetti dinner; there's no need to buy anything new. Unless, of course, you don't make cookies and spaghettior anything else that requires mixing and cooking.
Most canning recipes use fresh produce, most fresh produce requires washing. A colander can help corral and rinse produce as well as drain ingredients in those recipes that require it. A colander with a base that keeps the food setting well-above the water and juices that are draining out below them is my favorite, but any colander will work.
There's a case to be made for good knives in the kitchen even in the absence of preserving food, but it's especially important when you start canning. From coring tomatoes to cutting green beans to de-boning a chicken, you're going to want a few of your favorite knives at the ready. A paring knife and a chef's knife will be enough to tackle most projects.
Books may be listed last in this post, but they're far from the least important. You can find a lot of canning information and recipes online, but the convenience of a book with all the information you need at your fingertips is unrivaled, especially when you're elbow-deep in cut green beans and can't remember at what pressure you're supposed to be canning them due to your home's elevation. Two good beginning books to choose from are The Ball Blue Book and The Ball Complete Guide to Home Preservation. Both cover home canning basics in detail.
Worried about home canning safety? Be sure to check out the first post in our series: Home Preservation Safety.
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