This is a list of 20 canning tips to make pressure canning or water bath canning run much smoother.
In home food preservation, you get a giant sense of accomplishment when your home canned jars are full and sealed. The entire canning process is a lot of work so for the best results, it’s good to have some tips and tricks to enjoy making these canning recipes that give you delicious home-canned food.
20 Canning Tips
If you are a brand new beginning canner, I recommend checking out your local county extension office to find local home canners that may be able to give you a hands on canning project. It’s not always available, but is a good idea to find someone to help you if it is your first time canning. Here are 20 canning tips to help you in your home canning journey.
Start with a clean kitchen.
I know this part isn’t fun, however, starting with a clean kitchen makes everything much less stressful. Also, it’s just more sanitary. While we are at it, clean as you go as well. Nothing is worse than having a kitchen that looks like a tornado came through after you spent all day working hard. It’s much easier to deal with at the end if you clean as you go.
Gather all the ingredients you will need before beginning.
When you are throwing all the things into your mason jars, it’s nice to have everything you need right in front of you.
Chop all ingredients and measure everything first.
This is kind of a continual tip from the previous one. However, if you can chop or dice the veggies or cut up any meat ahead of time, it saves you time during the canning process. As a general rule, if I can prep the day before canning, I get as much done the day before to make the canning process more enjoyable.
Check your jars.
This is something I used to not do but then there was a few random times I have found a chip in a jar after already having food in there. Now, as part of my safe canning practices, I always just give a quick once over before doing all the hard work just to make sure all the jars are in good condition.
Get a bubble remover/headspace tool.
Never did I think I would love this little tool so much. These days, I can eyeball head space but at the beginning of learning to can, I was so stressed about always getting the right headspace. This tool is a 2-in-1, allowing you to remove air bubbles while also checking headspace. Fun fact, it can also be used to check out your dough when rolling it out to see if you are rolling it out thin enough.
Freeze what can be frozen.
During harvest season, it is nonstop. Freezing tomatoes or freezing berries is a sanity saver. This allows you to use your pressure canner or water bath canner in the middle of winter instead of when it is nice outside.
I’m not sure if I’m the only one who gets annoyed by this, but I hate when recipes don’t fill up the amount of jars that fit in my canner. So, usually I will double a recipe. The pressure canner I use fits 7 quart jars, so I want that much food so I’m not wasting an amount of time. If there is extra food, I’ll use that for dinner.
Fill Up Jars with Water.
Coming off of the previous tip, if you’re recipe only fills up 5 jars, use up the rest of your empty space by canning water. When the power goes out or the stores run out of water, it will be nice to have some filled jars of water on hand.
Make a Crockpot Meal.
Start a meal in the crockpot the morning you are canning something. Nobody wants to spend even more time in the kitchen after a long day of canning.
No more warming your lids.
I spent the last decade throwing jar lids in a pot of water. That is what was recommended when I started canning. It wasn’t until the last few years that they said it’s just not necessary. Yet, I still see so many people doing this.
Preheat jars in the oven.
You’ve probably heard, “hot food, hot jars, hot water.” (Maybe you’ve heard it as cold food, cold jars, cold water). Sometimes, it’s just easier to warm up your jars on a cookie sheet in a 200 degree F oven than it is to warm them up in a pressure canner. Another option is to time your dishwasher so it ends right before you start filling the jars. They come out of the dishwasher nice and hot. Just make sure you use your jar lifter because grabbing hot jars with your bare hands isn’t fun!
Stop sterilizing jars.
Wait a minute before you panic. I still want you to wash your jars and make sure they are clean. However, sterilizing canning jars that have a processing time of 10 minutes or more isn’t necessary. They sterilize during the canning process.
Even if you think you will remember, you won’t. Just grab your permanent marker and write on the glass. It washes right off.
Misplace your canning rack?
Use canning rings as a make shift canning rack. Just layer the canning rings on the bottom of the canner and place jars of food on top.
Look at auctions, garage sales, or thrift stores to find used canning jars for cheap. Another tactic is to ask your friends or facebook marketplace if anyone has a grandma with a basement full of empty glass jars. They love to give away their jars!
Buy lids when you can.
In 2020 and 2021, it was almost impossible to get canning lids. Even in 2023, there are times when the stock is low. Keep your eyes out for when they are in stock or on sale and buy them when you can.
Give yourself enough time.
Just plan 6 hours of being at home when you are canning. Being rushed or even worse, having to stop the canning process is horrible.
Have a canning party.
Invite some friends over. Everyone brings ingredients and you all enjoy each other’s company while working together. Many hands make light work.
Find some canning friends who are willing to trade canned goods. If one person have a strawberry patch and makes a bunch of strawberry-rhubarb jam every year and another person plants 50 tomatoes to make a bunch of tomato sauce, plan on trading.
Don’t get discouraged.
Making canning mistakes is part of the process of learning. There have been times that I didn’t get a good seal on the majority of my jars and I felt like my day was just wasted. However, failures are an opportunity to learn and get better. Canning your own foods is a skill and that skill must be practiced. You can do it!
Save These Canning Tips for Later
If you have any extra tips you would love to share, please comment them below and let others know! We are all in this together!