Water Bath Canning – Part 2

If you missed part 1 about water bath canning earlier this week you can find it here.

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Ah,  the tools of the trade.  I think this is the canner I have,  although I bought mine at an estate sale about a year ago for less then $5,  so I’m not sure that’s the exact size.
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I regularly see them at estate sales and thrift stores for $5-$15 so I don’t know if I recommend buying one new or not.  It should come with the metal rack you see there though,  otherwise if you have to buy a new one it kind of defeats the frugality of buying a used one.  I almost never see just a rack for sale without the canner,  I’m guessing they don’t hold up as well,  get rusty,  and then get trashed.  Be sure to examine the canner you are considering buying for rust on both the canner and the rack.  Don’t buy it if there is rust present,  trust me,  another one will come along before you know it that won’t be rusty (and probably cheaper too!) and you will regret buying the first one you saw.

I highly recommend getting a wide mouth funnel even if you don’t can a day in your life.
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I have at least 3, maybe more,  and I constantly use them.  They come in handy for filling glass jars with left overs,  dry goods,  or really just about anything.   This is something that gets used in my kitchen on a daily basis.   You can find them at estate sales and thrift stores as well,  usually in the $. 25-$2 range.   I’m currently looking for a stainless steel one,  but no luck so far.  I do run mine through the dishwasher (top rack only) on a regular basis,  so even though this one says hand wash only,  I don’t.  Honestly, if something truly is hand wash only it doesn’t make it long in my kitchen.

I would definitely recommend getting a jar lifter.
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Yes,  you could probably use a pot holder or a towel to remove the jars from the pot,  especially if you use the metal rack to lift them out of the water,  however,  I found the jar lifter to be very helpful in getting a secure grip on the jars while moving them from the pot to my counter to cool.  You actually hold onto the flat pieces,  which are rollers,  and the rubberized side is what grips the jar.   The rollers on the handle give you a far more secure grip on your jars then you would expect.  I really felt that it was worth the money.   I got mine at Ace Hardware,  since I never see them for sale at thrift stores or estate sales,  though maybe you will have better luck then I did.

My next purchase will be a magnetic canning lid lifter.
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I used a pair of tongs,  which worked okay,  but was a bit more of a pain then I would like.   Your supposed to have a small pot of water sitting on your stove just under boiling to heat your lids to sterilize them and also heat the rubber ring to make a good seal.  The magnetic lid lifter helps in getting the lids out of the hot water much easier then the tongs.  I found it hard to just grab one lid at a time with the tongs,  so I’m hoping this little doodad will help with that.  It also serves as a device to run around the inside of your jars to get rid of any air bubbles inside before you place the lids on.   I used a plastic knife (don’t use metal to remove the air bubbles,  it can scratch the glass and cause the jar to break) this time,  but it would be nice to have a 2 in 1 tool in my canning supplies.

Of course you need jars.
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Now,  I don’t think I have ever bought a case of new jars.   I get almost all of my jars from estate sales, and occasionally you will find them at thrift stores.   I try not to pay more then $. 25/jar, unless it is a bit unusual.  Often I can find them for $1-2/box (of 12.) When buying used jars to can with it is very important to check the top lip of the jar to make sure it’s smooth.  Any chips or scuffs in the glass will lead to a failure to seal,  and so make the jar useless if you are trying to can with it.  If you are just using it for dry storage,  it will work fine,  but I prefer to pass on any jar that’s flawed,  there are plenty of perfect ones out there,  no sense in giving yourself room to fail while canning if you forget to check for perfect jars.

Finally,  you need lids and bands.
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The band’s can be used over and over,  the lids can be used for canning only once.   They can be used for dry storage over and over though so it’s worth holding on to them.  Usually when I buy jars they come with the band’s already so I only have to buy the lids.
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They also make reusable canning lids.
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Now,  I’ve never tried them,  and from the Amazon reviews it seems like you’d either love them or hate them.   They are on my list of things to get,  however,  I don’t have any yet.

If you want to use your jars for dry storage I would definitely recommend getting a foodsaver.   They make an attachment to use with jars to suck all the air out.

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This is great for things like chips to keep them from going stale so fast.  It’s NOT a replacement for canning things like jelly for long shelf life,  this is just to remove the air,  like with foodsaver bags.

This is all the supplies I have or want for canning,  next up is to actually can some jelly!

– Fin