In this article we focus on Water Bath Canners. I will describe a little bit about Canning Jars and Lids, and Other Basic Equipment to have on hand. Then a little bit about Food Preparation. Also a pickle primer is coming to fruition.
I will not be going into pressure cooking until next season.
Water Bath Canner (a huge pot with a lifting rack to sterilize the jars of applesauce after filling (about $20 to $35 at mall kitchen stores, $18.50 at Wal-Mart) You CAN use a large pot instead, but the canners are deeper, and have a rack top make lifting the jars out easier. If you plan on canning every year, they’re worth the investment.
Normal canners hold seven quart jars at once, whether they are quart or pint size, because of the rack size. I am still trying to find a smaller rack, that can hold more pints for the large pot.
Fill the kettle with the appropriate amount of hot water and begin heating it on the range. The water bath requires 1 to 2 inches of water above the tops of jars. This can be difficult to determine before the filled jars are in place but after a batch or two you will learn how much water you will have to add. It is always a good idea to have an extra small pot of water heating to refill the main canner as it evaporates off. Keep the jars covered.
A trick I used to begin with was this: Fill the canner with the rack and a set of seven empty quart jars with out their lids on. Fill the canner and jars with water. Fill to about 1″ over the jars. This is about how full it will be when full. Now using the jar lifter, remove the jars that are full of water. When all seven are gone, then you will now have a level that you must start from next time. Mark it with a temporary mark such a red crayon. Then when the canner is empty and dry, you can add the permanent mark. You can use a nice red finger nail polish mark at the water level, or a sharpie, which will wear off with time. You can mark it on the outside for best results. Its not rocket science so just be close with-in an inch.
NOTE: Here is a trick I used to use back when I was learning. I was a foodie before I knew that term, and just had to have an aspagrus steamer with a rack and lid. Well lo- and behold, it works great for 1-quart jar. Most things I write about can be made in a smaller 1 quart size and you can experiment with 1 jar at a time.
Other Basic Equipment to have on hand
Make sure you have these items on hand before starting your process.
- Jar grabber to pick up the hot jars
- Lid lifter, has a magnet to pick them out of the sterilizing water
- Jar funnel ($2 at Wal-Mart)
- At least 1 large pot (at least 8-quart size or larger)
- Large spoons and ladles ($2 at Wal-Mart)
You can buy this as a basic 5 piece canning set from Wal-Mart and Big Lots .
If you come across a rack made for the standard 7 quart water-bath canner, that the rack is made for the smaller pints, or half-pints, I would very grateful if you would drop me a line and let me know about where to get one. Or even better yet, send me one <grins>
Photo of waterbath canning by ilovebutter in Flickr’s Creative Commons