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Canning 101: A Beginner's Guide to Safe and Successful Canning

Updated: Dec 28, 2023

Canning is an excellent option if you're looking for a way to preserve your garden's bounty or the season's delicious fruits. Canning allows you to store fresh produce and other foods for long periods without sacrificing flavor or nutritional value.

But if you're new to canning, it can be a little intimidating. Don't worry - with the right equipment and a few basic guidelines; you can safely and successfully can all kinds of foods.

(Disclosure: This post may contain affiliate links, and as an Amazon and Walmart Associate, I may earn from qualifying purchases at no additional cost to you.)


Before you start canning, you'll need some basic equipment. Here's what you'll need:

  1. Canning jars - You will need some mason jars; Kerr or Ball jars are the most popular. These jars come in various sizes and are designed for use in canning.

  2. Canning lids and rings - Lids are the flat, round disks that seal the jars, while rings hold the lids in place during processing.

  3. A large pot known as a canner - Is used to sterilize the jars and process the filled jars. These are available as electric canners or stove-top canners.

  4. A jar lifter - This unique tool allows you to lift hot jars in and out of the pot safely.

  5. A funnel - This makes filling the jars with food more manageable and prevents spills.

  6. A bubble remover - This tool helps remove air bubbles from the jars. A knife also works for this purpose.

  7. A timer - This is essential for timing the processing of the jars.

  8. A kitchen towel - This is used to wipe the rims of the jars clean before adding the lids.


Once you have all your equipment ready, it's time to start canning. Here's a basic outline of the process:

  1. Wash your jars, lids, and rings in hot, soapy water, then rinse thoroughly.

  2. Place the jars in a large pot of boiling water (or in your canner according to directions) and let them boil for 10 minutes. Then, keep them in hot water until you're ready to fill them.

  3. Prepare your recipe and fill the jars using the funnel, leaving the recommended amount of headspace.

  4. Remove air bubbles by running the bubble remover around the inside of the jar.

  5. Wipe the rims of the jars clean with a kitchen towel. Wipe the rims with a clean towel, and dab with vinegar if your contents are greasy.

  6. Place the lids on the jars and tighten the rings just until they're snug. Do not over-tighten.

  7. Place the jars back in the pot of boiling water and process for the recommended time, according to your recipe.

  8. Carefully remove the jars from the pot using the jar lifter and let them cool on a towel for 24 hours.


It's essential to follow safety guidelines when canning to prevent the growth of harmful bacteria. Here are some key safety tips:

  1. Always use a tested recipe from a reliable source.

  2. Make sure your equipment is clean and in good condition.

  3. Use fresh ingredients and check for any signs of spoilage.

  4. Follow the recommended processing times and pressures for your recipe and altitude.

  5. Always use new lids, as old ones may not seal properly.


How do you know if your canning project was a success? Here are some signs to look for:

  1. The lids should be concave and not move when pressed in the center. Check this only after your item is completely cooled.

  2. You should not be able to push the lid down with your finger.

  3. There should be no signs of leakage or mold.

  4. The contents of the jar should look and smell fresh once opened for use.

Canning is a rewarding and practical skill that can help you preserve the flavors and nutrients of your favorite foods for long periods. With the right equipment, safety precautions, and attention to detail, you successfully can various foods, from jams and pickles to soups and stews.

My number one suggestion: GET the USDA CANNING INFO FREE online, which is a great start to canning! But you'll soon want the book as a quick reference! I call it my "canning bible".

The book is available online, and I highly recommend this for canners, especially those new to canning.

Order from Walmart

Order from Amazon

Remember, canning is a process that requires careful attention to safety guidelines and processing times. Don't take shortcuts or use untested recipes, which can lead to spoilage or contamination. Instead, always follow the recommended steps and processing times to ensure your canned goods are safe and delicious.

In conclusion, canning can be a fun and rewarding hobby for anyone interested in preserving fresh foods. With a bit of practice and the right equipment, you can create your pantry of canned goods that will last for months or even years.

Just be sure to follow the safety guidelines. Check your jars carefully when you are ready to use them to ensure your canning projects succeed. Happy canning!


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