How to Start Canning at Home

A crash course on the essential containers and equipment you need to begin canning your favorite fruits, vegetables, or wild game

canning fruit
Canning is a simple process that can preserve almost any type of food for extended periods of time.Victorio

Home canning is a skill that belongs in the repertoire of any natural cook, locavore, or wild-game chef. The task can seem a little daunting at first, but the reality is our grandparents relied on these simple skills—as many folks still do—to put away stores of everything from tomato relish to pickled peppers and canned venison. You only need some canning jars and a few basic appliances to get started.

Mason Jars

mason jars
The key to canning is the air-tight lid that seals each Mason Jar.Amazon

Ever since an American tinsmith named John Landis Mason invented his home-canning container in 1858, Mason Jars (aka Ball Jars) have been the standard for this essential kitchen pastime. Available in a variety of sizes, Mason jars feature a ring top and patented gasket-sealed lid that allows air to escape under heat and pressure but not return upon cooling. The result is an airtight, anaerobic environment that keeps spoilage out and goodness in.

Classic Graniteware

Black enamel canning pot
Heat your jars with a pot, rack, and tongs specifically designed for canning.Amazon

To heat your filled Mason Jars, look for a vessel specifically designed for home canning, usually sold with a jar rack, tongs, lid lifter, and various other accoutrements of the art. A graniteware canner is enamel-coated steel with a classic look that will handle just about any canning operation.

Stainless Steel

Stainless steel canning pot
Some canning pots come with built-in thermometers to help dial in a specific temperature.Amazon

A stainless-steel canner with a flat bottom is a more contemporary option suitable for use on any cooking surface, including glass induction stovetops. Built-in thermometers and transparent lids take the guesswork out of canning and allow you to monitor your stores every step of the process.