hillybettyriv

There are a lot of kitchen gadgets out there, but canning does not require them. It is surprisingly easier than making a four-course meal and doesn’t have much in the way of required purchases to get started.

The photo contains my canning go-to tools of the trade. Not pictured is the water bath canner. Think of a giant sauce pot with a lid and a wire basket to lift jars in and out. Pressure canning is an option, but not recommended or safe for an electric or flat, glass stovetop. Water bath canning has been my go-to method for years and works great for my needs. These large water bath canning set-ups can be purchased for less than $20.

Most of the other tools are probably already in the kitchen with the exception of a couple jar handling tools.

1. Liquid and dry measuring cups and spoons for your ingredients. With canning, the batches are likely to be larger than your regular dinner recipe, so a good four-cup measure cup and larger dry good, spice spoons are handy.

2. This neoprene, silicone-lined oven mitt changed the canning experience for me. Waterproof, perfect for grabbing wet jars fresh out of the water bath, and the silicone grip helps tighten a slippery, hot jar band with ease.

3. Jars. Jars. And more jars. Half-pints and pints can stretch a batch recipe into the holiday gift-giving season. Nothing says love like homegrown, homemade jams and jellies. Jars should be sanitized properly just prior to filling to prevent bacteria growth. Thoroughly washing the jars in hot, soapy water, then placing the empty jars in your boiling water bath for 15 minutes just before filling them will do the trick.

4. Jar lifters make transitioning jars from the canner to the countertop a breeze. The silicone-coated (green end) grips are sized perfectly to lift a jar by the rim and move it to awaiting counter space without the juggling of a sizzling wet glass jar of goodness.

5. Slotted spoons, regular spoons of both metal and wood are indispensable. Metal is great for cleaning, but keep some wooden around to prevent a metallic taste when dealing with acidic foods that might react to a metal utensil.

6. When packing the jars, skewers can help remove air bubbles and help the veggies or fruits settle into the jars with syrup or brine to ensure tightly packed canned items. There are some specialty tools out there for this step, but a skewer does the trick for much less expense.

7. Label the jars with the contents and dates to ensure food safety. Canning is a long-term food preservation, but it isn’t forever.

8. A jar funnel will keep the rim of the jars clean for a proper seal and make filling, especially with liquids much easier. Even with the jar funnel, it is a good idea to give the rim a wipe with a towel to remove splatters before putting the canning lid in place.

9. Canning lids, the flat discs with a rubber ring to create a seal, and bands to hold the lids in place. Just prior to placing the canning lids on the freshly packed jars of whatever you are making, simmering them in hot water will loosen up the rubber and help create a better seal.

There are just a couple more not-pictured items. Keep plenty of towels handy to wipe jar rims, wipe up spills and grab a jar in a pinch. I am guilty of adjusting my countertop display barehanded before they cool and I don’t recommend it. My favorite, tattered, stained apron also didn’t quite seem photo-worthy, but I wouldn’t can without it. There is evidence of many a recipe on my canning attire, but all of those splatters would have been clothing marks without it.

Melanie as a born-again Hillbetty attempting to revive her Appalachian roots. She lives in Creston with her two dogs and 21 chickens.

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