Canning at Home: Basic Equipment & Step-By-Step Guide

Canning your own food at home can be a little intimidating, but once you have the right equipment and understand the process, it isn't that hard. In this video, I'm showing you all of the basic equipment you'll need to get started and then going through the whole process with you, step-by-step. You'll find a written equipment list and canning instructions below this video. :D

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  • Large canning pot
  • Canning rack
  • Jars, rings, and lids
  • Wide mouth funnel
  • Jar lifter
  • Plastic spatula to remove air from jar
Waterbath Canning Instructions
  1. Use information and recipes from reliable sources, such as universities, your local extension office, and official canning resources. You can't can your favorite homemade salsa or pasta sauce because the acid level may not be adequate for safe canning. Make sure you are using recipes that are specifically for canning. Also, make sure that you note the appropriate processing time for your altitude.
  2. Wash your jars, rings, lids, and any other utensils you'll be using in hot soapy water.
  3. Fill your canning pot about half full with water and bring to a boil.
  4. Sterilize jars and other utensils, such as ladels, in the boiling water bath for 10 minutes. Empty jars and allow all sterilized equipment to air dry. Do not wipe dry!
  5. Follow the instructions for preparing your lids. Usually, they need to be held in hot water or simmering water.
  6. Fill a small pot with water and place  it on the stove to boil. You'll need this boiling water later, so get it heating up now so it will be ready when the time comes.
  7. Follow your canning recipe exactly.
  8. Check your jars for the correct head space (the space between the top of the jar and its contents) as stated in your recipe.
  9. Use a plastic spatula or similar utensil and run down the inside walls of the jar and gently push against the jar's contents to remove air from the jar. Check head space again and adjust as necessary.
  10. Dip a paper towel or clean cloth into the small pot of boiling water. Use this to wipe the rims of your jars to remove anything that may have gotten on them during processing. This re-sterilizes the area and helps to ensure a good seal.
  11. Center a lid on each jar and add the rings, turning until they are fingertip tight. The point of this ring is to keep the lid on the jar through processing, not to seal the jar. If you tighten it too tightly, air won't be able to escape the jar during processing, which can result in spoiled food or a lid that pops off during processing due to the pressure.
  12. Lower your jars into the water bath with your jar lifter. Make sure the jars are covered with 1-2 inches of water and return the pot to a boil. Start timing when the water returns to a full boil. Make sure the you use the correct time for your altitude. The water must be boiling and the lids must be covered during the entire processing time. If your water stops boiling, you'll need to bring it back to a boil and start timing from the beginning. If the water starts to look like it's getting low, use the small pot of boiling water to add extra water to the canning pot. This is important because you don't want the canning pot to stop boiling, so make sure you are adding boiling water if it's needed.
  13. Once you processing time is up, turn off the heat on the canning pot and allow the jars to sit in the pot for 10 minutes to cool.
  14. Using your jar lifter, transfer your jars to rest on a towel on your counter or table.
  15. Leave the jars untouched for 12-24 hours to allow them to seal.
  16. Before you put your finished jars away, you need to test the seal. Remove the ring and press the center of the lid with your finger. The lid should not pop up and down. Next, try to remove the lid with your finger tips. If the jar passes both of these tests, you have a good seal.
  17. Place any jars that don't process in the fridge to be eaten or reprocess immediately.

Have any more canning questions? Ask in the comments below!