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Canning Equipment Checklist

What You Need for Canning Pickles, Jams and Other Foods

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If you're interested in making and canning jams and jellies, pickles, tomato sauces and preserved fruits and vegetables, this list will arm you with the tools you need to start canning. Once you have all the equipment, get started with some jam and pickle recipes!

Boiling Water Canner

Ball Boiling Water Canner
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A boiling water canner is basically an oversized pot with a lid. It should also include a rack, which fits the entre base of the pot and has handles that will hold it suspended over the water. Racks can be purchased separately, but look for a canner that comes with one, to ensure that it fits perfectly. Boiling water canners do not need to be made of heavy or thick metal, most are aluminum coated in enamel, or stainless steel. While size is important, make sure that the canner you buy is not too big for your burner; otherwise it might not be able to keep water at the proper temperature. This stainless steel canner from Ball holds 21 quarts and has coated handles so that you can get a sure grip while you're carrying the heavy pot to and from the stove.
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Pressure Canner

Presto Pressure Canner
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A pressure canner is the best way to safely process low acid foods, such as vegetables, soups and stews, and meat. It heats the food within the cans to a higher temperature than a boiling water canner (around 240˚F), since it uses pressurized heat. Look for a canner with a rack on the bottom to raise the jars off the floor, so steam can circulate, a lid that has a safety valve, gasket, valve pipe and a secure locking mechanism, and a dial or weighted gauge to help determine when the proper temperature and pressure is achieved. This version from Presto is a 23-quart size and has an easy-to-read dial gauge on top.

Take a look at the article Pressure Canner vs. Boiling Water Canner to learn more about the differences between these two canners, and which to use for what type of food.

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Ball Jar Lifter

Ball Jar Lifters
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When you're lifting piping-hot jars (filled with equally piping-hot liquid) in and out of a pot of boiling water, it's essential that you have a sure hold on them. Ball's jar lifter has a molded, ergonomic handle that is comfortable and easy to hold, and a molded gripper that grabs under the edge of the lid, rather than around it, giving a more secure hold. It's easy to operate one-handed, unlike other lifters.
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Lid Lifter

Victoria Lid Lifter
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You might think you don't need a lid lifter... until you have to somehow pull a flat lid up from the bottom of a pot of boiling water. This tool is simple: a long wand with a magnet at the tip. But it easily picks up lids from the pot of water, far more easily than trying to get a pair of tongs to grip such a flat piece of metal. This lid lifter from Victoria is particularly nice because it has a hole in the top, so you can string it on a cord and wear it around your neck or hang it by the stove, where it can be easily accessed.
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Canning Funnel

Progressive Jar Funnel
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A wide-mouthed funnel makes the task of filling jars with hot jam, tomato sauce or pickle juice tidier, easier and more precise. It minimizes drips on the outside of the jar and enables you to fill them more quickly. The nice thing about Progressive's Canning Funnel, shown, is that it has an outer collar that rests on the countertop in between filling jars, suspending the actual funnel over the counter, and thus cutting down on mess and keeping the lip of the funnel from being contaminated by crumbs, drips or bacteria that might be on your counter. This jar also has handy headspace measurements along the exterior. When your recipe indicates that you need to leave 1/2- 1/4- or 3/4-inch headspace (the amount of room between the surface of the food and the rim of the jar), you'll be able to easily see where to stop filling the jar.

Canning Jars

Leifheit Canning Jars
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From utilitarian Mason jars to more ornate jars with embossed decorations, pretty lids and interesting shapes, the jars you choose can give your canned goods a sense of your personality and style. Look for jars that have a two-part lid, consisting of a flat lid that's coated on the underside with a ring of rubbery material that creates the seal during the canning process, and a threaded metal band that screws on over the flat lid to keep it in place. The flat lids can only be used once, as they will not make a seal again once they're used, but the bands can be used again and a gain, as long as they're not rusty, warped, bent or otherwise damaged. And of course, the glass jars can be multiple times if they're not chipped or cracked. You can buy the flat lids or two-part lids separately for subsequent canning.

These pretty Leifheit jars have a fancy faceted shape, an embossed design on the front, and a printed design on the lid.

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