I love canning food. I use pressure canning and also boiling-water bath methods for preserving our garden harvests, depending on what type of food is being processed. There are certain items that comprise your arsenal of home canning supplies and make the job much easier.
First of all, you need a canner. I personally use an All American Pressure Canner manufactured by the Wisconsin Aluminum Foundry. I love the wing nut locking system of this particular canner. I've owned some other pressure cookers and canners that had a plastic gasket seal. The seals eventually crack and wear out, requiring replacement.
With the wing nut system, there are no gaskets to replace. Just be sure to keep all of your canner parts together so you do not lose them, such as your pressure regulator, your pressure gauge, the wing nuts, etc. A pressure cooker or canner without a vent regulator is useless, but the part is very small and easy to lose. I keep the loose parts inside of the canner in storage so that the parts are always there.
You need home canning jars that are designed for this purpose. Some glass will crack under high heat, so purchase Mason, Kerr or Ball glass canning jars made specifically for pressure or boiling bath canning.
You will need metal lids and screw bands. The metal seal lids should be used only once and discarded when the contents are consumed. The screw bands can be used over and over again. The screw bands are removed after the contents cool and the vacuum seal is achieved, and the filled canning jars are stored with the metal lid only.
Equipment and utensils should be made of stainless steel or anodized aluminum. Avoid copper, brass, cast iron, and galvanized zinc as these materials react with salts and acids in the foods.
A typical equipment array might include:
o Heavy duty pots and saucepans
o Knives, cutting board, potato or vegetable peeler
o Ladle and spoons (heat resistant)
o Measuring spoons and cups in various sizes
o Large sized mixing bowl capable of several quarts
o Funnel designed specifically for a jar
o Magnetic lid wand
o Kitchen tongs
o Dry kitchen towels
o Non-metal spatula (for removing air bubbles)
o Jar lifter (this is a very handle tool for safely removing jars from hot boiling water)
o Thermometer (I use a candy thermometer)
o Labels (often included in boxes of canning jars)
o Permanent marker
o Spice bag (handy but I often make mine from muslin or cheesecloth)
o Accurate kitchen timer
o Kitchen scales
o Journal or notebook for recording recipes, making notes, etc.
There are other tools that make the job of home canning easier, depending on the types of food you plan to process. Food mills, grinders, jelly bags, slicers, blenders, corers, pitters, and other items can make your job much easier.
There are canning accessory sets available that are very affordable and contain most of the common items you need when you hot process foods. Home canning supplies are necessary to perform the job successfully and safely. These utensils and equipment usually last for years with proper care, so a wise small investment in the beginning is highly recommended.
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Laura Brown is an experienced ghostwriter and professional freelance author. She also enjoys gardening and cooking. You can find some delicious recipes and gardening tips on her website, http://www.theranchersdaughter.com along with a lot of useful information on gardening, cooking, flowers, and living in the country. Learn more about home canning supplies at Laura's website.