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Canning Supplies to Get Now

Canning supplies for frugal homesteaders
Whether you are a homesteader or not, canning is more than just a hobby for preppers. It is a wise way to provide for your family when your garden is finished.

This week I’ve got canning supplies on my mind.

In fact, for my husband birthday, we have decided on practical gifts. For us this year, we are putting our money into canning supplies.

Cozy fire cabin

Not very romantic, you say? Well, that may be true, but nothing really says romance like an evening spent by the fire with your feet propped up. How about adding in a mug of home canned tomato soup? Lovely music…popcorn maybe?

I can tell you for a fact that for practical girls like me, eating together is a pretty romantic pastime. Eating home canned food is pretty satisfying!Home made pickles

Here’s the read deal: My dear, sweet husband is finally pursuing (with a vengeance) his passion for Growing things! He’s let other things crowd that out, but he’s gonna have a huge garden this year! That means, that someone is going to be doing a ton of preserving! That would be me, in case you missed that clue. I totally am good with that! I love dehydrating, canning, and just putting by, as the old folks say. It really does excite me to see sparkling jars lined up in my pantry shelf.Canning jars on shelf

But all joking aside, if you’re going to grow a garden—and I hope you are—then you are going to need something to do with all that food. If you haven’t done much canning before, there are some basic things that you’re going to need to get the job done.

Some specific foods that you can will require some additional types of supplies, but with the basics, you’ll be able to can almost everything! .

Garden Favorites to Can

Some of our favorite foods include tomatoes, green beans, and applesauce. Sometimes I make jam and different kinds of soups, but the vast majority of what I can are tomatoes and applesauce. Our family loves to slather homemade applesauce on top of our pancakes sprinkled with frozen blueberries from our bushes. We enjoy this almost every Sunday morning!

Tomatoes

I like to can a lot of tomatoes. THIS COULD BE DUE TO THE FACT THAT MY HUSBAND LIKES TO PLANT LIKE 20 PLANTS OF EVERY VARIETY UNDER THE SUN!! Bless his heart! ❤️ HE DOES LOVE HIS TOMATOES!! I like to make some soup with basil, and I make diced tomatoes and tomato purée for adding into soups, beans, and other dishes like Spanish rice.Canning tomatoes

I don’t like to buy tomatoes to can but sometimes I have done that. Generally I prefer to can up what we grow, because they are just so much more flavorful! As the song says there’s only two things that money can’t buy: that’s true love, and homegrown tomatoes.

For tomatoes, you can use either the water bath or the pressure canning method.

Applesauce

Our family could easily eat 500 quarts of applesauce per year if I could keep up with that much canning. Usually our problem is finding the apples at a reasonable price.

Applesauce can be canned using a pressure cooker or a water bath canner. It turns out pretty much the same either way, and with the time it requires to heat up the pressure canner, maintain the temp, get the pressure up, versus water bath canning it, I almost prefer the water bath. That’s because I’ve found a very large water bath canner, and my pressure canner just holds seven quarts.

Canned jellies

Green Beans

Green beans from the garden are tender and delicious! I love green beans, hot or cold, in salads, or straight outta the jar drizzled with olive oil! Frozen green beans are delicious, but we don’t have freezer space for that, and if your power goes out, you get wasted food! That would certainly make me cry!

Notice I said “if your power goes out”? That’s because we aren’t on the power grid. If the power goes out, we don’t know til later. But we still don’t have freezer space, lol!

Canning Supplies

Some girls like diamonds✨ I’ll just take mason jars!

A few hints before we get started:

As of this posting, canning jars and general canning supplies are becoming more difficult to obtain. Local stores can’t keep canning jars in stock for long, and ordering online is also unreliable. I have noticed many retailers jacking up prices on canning materials, so look carefully, buy what you can afford sooner rather than later, and assume you’ll need more than you thought.

As of last week, where went live in upper East Tennessee, I could NOT FIND quart canning jars on the shelves at any hardware store. Not Tractor Supply Center, Ace Hardware/Farmer’s Coop, or local merchants.

I STILL COULD find mason jars at Walmart. Their price has raised recently by about $1.50 per 12-pack. I find it to be very random pricing.

A month ago, I paid $10.47/12-pack for regular quarts. Now they are listed on the Walmart app for $10.78. But, oddly, if I go into the store, and purchase the same jars, they charge $11.87. So I can order six boxes for pickup (the maximum amount allowed) and they will bring them to my van and load them for me. Strange.

Once canning season begins in earnest, they do not stay on the shelves! Not since covid! So go ahead and get yours soon!

Think it would be easier to just ship to your door?

Think again! Maybe.

That same jars listed on the Walmart app for $10.78 flip to $31 sometimes, depending on the vendor. Sometimes you can get them, like today when I logged on. You have to order a minimum of $35 to get free shipping.

I find that Amazon.com is all over the place. Their Regular Ball Jars are going for like these at $24-$40/12-pack, and the Wide Mouth Ball Jars are right around $40–for a dozen! Definitely check locally and online before purchasing!

Sources for Canning Supplies:

Canning jars on shelf

Obviously, online retailer giants like Walmart and Amazon.com. It’s hard to stomach supporting huge giants, but your dollar has to stretch.

Local hardware stores, like Ace, typically sell canning supplies. That’s generally where I purchase my 64-oz storage jars. Not this year. Clean wiped out. People are buying up the supplies. At our local Ace Hardware, they had some pints, no quarts, and no half-gallon jars.

Tractor Supply Center had pints. That’s it. Some lids and rings, with a limit of 4. The price of pints was about double the usual price @ $16/dozen.

Price of canning jars
Price of pints at Ace
Canning lids
Ace/Coop
Pint canning jars
Kroger. 😮

Basic Supplies you’ll need for canning most foods.

Canning Jars.

Also knows as Mason Jars. There are several brands, but the best known currently are Ball Mason Jars, Kerr, snd Golden Harvest. They are designed for high heat and pressure of home canning. Don’t use jars that don’t say Mason, because they’re not tested for canning. Honey jars can be used as storage.

Jars with dried herbs
Some jars are good for storage, but not rated for canning.

My personal preference are the Ball Jars, but only by a teeny margin. They are just a smidgen narrower than the Golden Harvest jars, so I can more easily slide seven into my pressure canner with risk of breaking them. I usually use a mixture, and if I even have one or two Ball jars, it’s not as tight. I have only used a few random Kerr jars.  

Choose the type you prefer.

  • Wide mouth. Many prefer the wide mouth jars because they’re easier. They are better for storing foods because of the wide opening, and you can easily get plastic lids for storing dry goods. For canning, I honestly don’t have a preference, unless I’m doing large chunks since I use a canning funnel anyway. Check price on amazon
  • Regular mouth. These are slightly cheaper usually, and easier to pour liquids from. Other than that, I feel like it’s all personal preference. Check price on amazon
  • Quart. I use quarts for just about everything I want a lot of. Tomatoes, applesauce, green beans, soup. With the cost of lids rising, I’d rather can one quart than two pints.
  • Half Gallon. Just a note on the half gallon mason jars. These are great for storage. Not so great for canning. Technically, you can can two things in these jars, according to the manufacturer: apple juice and grape juice. That’s because they are very acid, and because in the juice, the heat can penetrate. I a thicker food, like applesauce, the heat won’t be able to penetrate fully into the mass of food, thus the food will not reach the proper internal temperature to sterilize it.
  • But I use mine all the time to store many things like nuts, raisins, beans, grains.
Half gallon mason jars
Half gallon jars not for canning.
  • Pint. Use pints for small amounts. For a small family, many pints makes more sense if you wouldn’t eat a whole quart. Pints of tomatoes are handy for recipes. Pints of beans for soups are also handy. Pint jars are also good for home made jams. I like using pints for soap dispensers too 😊 and storage of small things around the home. Check price on amazon
  • Wide Mouth Pint.
    These are nice because they’re easy to load. Wide mouths are pretty practical. Kerr wide mouth
  • Jelly jars. These are 1 cup size., or 4 oz. Prefect for jam and for gifting. I love these for using as flower vases and to store Q-tips and toothbrushes.Check price on amazon

Don’t Forget the Lids! 
Once you have jars, they’ll last forever if you’re careful, but you’ll need lids every year. I’ve noticed that the lids keep going up in price like everything else. You really have to check around. I found some at a reasonable price in bulk here @ about 13 cents each.

And I’m not sure how long this “limited time deal” will run from Amazon, but I can get 122 for $12, which comes out to 10c/lid.  Get that deal here

Reusable Lids

You can get reusable canning lids, and they are supposed to last forever!  You will have to replace the gaskets occasionally (after 6 uses, according to the manufacturer).  There are two brands that I am aware of—Tattler, and Harvest Guard.  The lids are pricey, but you have to look at them as an investment.  You can get the Tattler lids off of Amazon, but have to order the Harvest Guard directly.  I am trying a few of the Harvest Guard this year and will let you know how that goes.

Harvest Guard reusable canning jar lids
Harvest Guard Lids

Tattler Reusable Lids on Amazon.,9’

 

 

/>Pressure canner

You want a pressure canner for foods low in acid.  All vegetables are in this category, as are beans, meats, potatoes.  But large if you think you will be canning a lot.  I prefer to have one where I can stack jars; mine can stack pints, but not two layers of quarts.  I’d like a larger one to speed things up  However, the more volume of food, the longe it takes to heat up, so sometimes two small operating can be faster than one large pressure canner.  

You’re going to find some variety between the different styles.  Some clamp the lid down, and others slide to lock.  Some have a dial pressure gauge, and others have weighted gauges.  I have heard that the weighted gauges are safer, because they allow excess pressure to blow off beyond the amount of the weight.  Mine is a dial gauge, and I have to keep a close eye on it.   If I were to replace mine, I’d get a weight gauge for that reason of safety, but some don’t like them because they can’t reach an exact pressure, just 5,10,15, etc.

I use a Presto canner like my mom used. It’s big and it’s lasted me many years—about 24 so far. The main thing to check is the seal, the pop off plug, and make sure you don’t lose the rocker. The seal and pop off plug can and should be replaced when they get old and brittle or damaged.   

The All American Pressure Canner is the one many homesteaders recommend.  If I were to ever replace mine, I’d look into this brand because of the satisfaction of so many homesteaders with it.  As with all brands, there are many different styles and sizes.  My next one will be a big one to save time.  The biggest All American holds a whopping 19 quart jars!  That’s way more than mine which holds seven!  But you have to look at price point, size, and the features you will use.  
You can also look into a commercial pressure where you can layer the jars.  The Buffalo commercial pressure canner can process 37 quarts at once.  Obviously something like that would be an investment. Most average homesteaders or homeowners are going to use something like the Presto canner, because getting all that food ready to process at the same time would be very difficult in most kitchens!   

 

 

Water Bath Canner 

You can also use your pressure canner to water bath your foods.  Look for a sturdy rack for lifting out jars, and a good fitting lid.  They now make some with clear glass lids, which are nice.  Basically, you want a pan with space for many jars, and something to hold the jars off the bottom.  I bought a homemade water bath canner recently that holds like 28 quarts and uses a propane fire  or a campfire to heat it.  
There is more than one way to do water bath canning, so look around and see what your options are.  The most common are the granite ware with a rack inside  

 

Lid magnet tool

You need this simple tool to avoid burning your fingers to get your hot lids out.  

 

Jar Funnel

You do need this.  You can get a plastic one or a metal one, but a jar funnel keeps your rims clean and speeds up the process of filling jars.  They are handy all year around too!  

 

Jar lifting tool. Have a couple.  You can also purchase these in a handy canning kit, and you’ll get several useful tools together.  

 

Chopper or slicer. Mandolin

Blender

 Sauce Maker/Strainer  

This hand-powered machine makes applesauce and tomato sauce way easier.  You cook the food, then run it through the strainer, where the seeds and skin are removed.  We use ours for applesauce.  

 


Additional Canning Supplies to Make Part of Your Permanent Kitchen Stock

The following are items that belong in a well-stocked homestead kitchen.  They are essential for canning. I find that most of the really large bowls, pots, and spoons can be found in Amish or Mennonite stores, since they regularly can lots of food. I often find useful things for my kitchen when I visit Yoder’s Market locally.  

Of course you can also order them from online retailers as well. Lehman’s is a great resource for good, sturdy household tools. Restaurant supply stores will also carry huge pots and long, sturdy spoons and spatulas.

You will need:

  • Long-Handled Stainless Steel Spoons—slotted and regular 
  • Long-handled Ladel
  • Very Large bowls
  • Very Large pots
  • Large Strainers
  • Thick towels for cooling processed jars
  • Hot pads and oven mitts
  • Sharpie
  • Labels

Ball Blue Book of Preserving 

There are other great canning books out there too, but this one has all the basic info for most foods you’ll can.  Up to date information for how to process various foods safely.  If you are just learning, then follow this religiously!  You don’t want all of your hard work to spoil because of improper canning techniques  

 

Storage Shelves for Jars

If you can it, you’re gonna have to store it!  So make sure you get a sturdy shelving system for your jars.  Canned jars are heavy, so wimpy shelves won’t cut it. If you need inspiration, a quick visit to Pinterest will give you lots of great ideas! 
Canning jar shelving Pinterest ideas

Whew!  
Now I’m exhausted!

That was a lot of canning supplies to talk about!  

That will definitely cover the basics, though of most of your canning needs.  

Sometimes you can score by finding canning supplies at thrift stores, but I’ve noticed that even those places are marking them up quite a bit.  

I hope you’re gearing up for your garden, and as you do, keep a good lookout for the canning supplies you’ll need as soon as possible.  If the last two years are any indication, once canning season begins, you will have a hard time finding supplies on the shelf!  

Remember, You Need to Grow a Victory Garden!  And do your best to Can all You Can!  
Can All You Can poster

 

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I’d be delighted if you took the time to write a few words. I read every comment, and so many times I find that I gain encouragement from what’s shared. ❤️