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.
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.
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.
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.