Food canning equipment can be a very intimidating topic for people who are just getting started. But I’m going to make it easy! In this list, I’ve included the few essential tools and supplies you’ll need for sure, as well as other helpful items you can pick up later on.
What supplies, tools, and equipment do I need to start canning food? This is a very common question that I get asked a lot.
Many newbies would love to dive in, but are intimidated by all the stuff that they’ll need to buy in order to get started.
It’s true, you will definitely have to buy a few things. But don’t worry, you don’t need a ton of expensive equipment just to get started.
To make it easier for you to figure out what you’ll need, I’ve put together a list of the best food canning supplies, tools, and equipment for you.
In addition to the few essential items, I also included tons of helpful things that aren’t required, but will make things easier.
Essential Food Canning Equipment
Like I said, you don’t need much equipment to get started with canning your own food, but you will definitely need to buy a few things. This section has the list of the essentials.
Ok I know, this is pretty obvious, but one of the first supplies you’ll definitely need for canning your own food is mason jars.
The good news is that they are reusable, so you can purchase them as needed, and build up a larger collection over time.
Brand new canning jars will come with both lids and bands, so you won’t have to spend any extra money on those right away.
But the lids are not reusable, so you will have to get new ones every time you reuse your jars. Also, old ones that have been sitting on the shelf for a few years might not hold their seal.
Unlike the lids, the metal bands (aka rings) are reusable, as long as they are in good condition.
But if any of yours are rusty, dented, or otherwise damaged, then you’ll need to buy some shiny new replacements.
One essential canning tool that many people don’t think about is a recipe book. It’s extremely important to follow a recipe that was developed specifically for safely canning food.
When I was a beginner, I bought the Ball Blue Book Guide To Preserving and I love it! It’s filled with tons of yummy recipes, and also has tutorials with lots of photos, which is awesome for newbies.
It’s how I first learned to be successful. If you’re just getting started, I highly recommend it.
Other Important Food Canning Equipment & Tools
Though you technically could get started with only the few items listed above, you’ll eventually need more canning equipment, tools, and utensils as you gain experience.
If you’re pickling or preserving highly acidic foods, then you will only need a water bath canner.
It is a great way for beginners to get started and build your confidence, and is a slightly smaller investment than a pressure canner.
A pressure canner is required to safely process foods that aren’t naturally acidic, as it’s the only way to get them hot enough to kill harmful bacteria.
This is likely going to be most expensive piece of food canning equipment you’ll invest in, but it will absolutely pay for itself in no time.
Though far from being essential, I’ve found that a canning jar lifter is something I can’t live without.
It’s specifically designed to make the job of moving hot jars in and out of boiling water a snap, and keeps you from burning yourself in the process.
I’ve tried using tongs and other tools, but they are slippery and dangerous, and even caused me to break a few jars. It’s just not worth the risk to skip this one.
The first few times I tried canning, I used a standard kitchen funnel. It worked ok for liquids – but it was very slow and messy.
This wide funnel is designed to fit perfectly into both regular and wide mouth mason jars.
Not only does it make it a million times easier to fill them, it also prevents spills, which reduces waste (and the risk of burning yourself).
I never even knew I needed a magnetic lid/band wand until I got one. It’s a super handy tool to have (and kinda fun to use too).
This is another inexpensive piece of food canning equipment that you may not need at first, but you’ll find it invaluable once you use it.
Seriously, nothing works better to retrieve those stubborn thin lids from the bottom of a pot of boiling water.
Another non-essential item, but one I can’t live without, is a bubble popper tool. This handy canning utensil is specifically designed to remove large air bubbles before processing.
It’s super important to use plastic for this rather than metal because it could damage or weaken the glass. So, as silly as the name sounds, I definitely recommend getting one of these.
Nice-To-Have Food Canning Equipment & Supplies
In this section, you’ll find my list of optional but nice-to-have food canning equipment and supplies. They’re all things that you don’t need right away. But they will definitely make your life easier.
Once you get going, you’ll quickly realize that canning recipes call for large amounts of food, which are usually measured by weight.
So it’s really nice to have a kitchen scale. Like I said, it’s not something you need to have, but I honestly don’t know how anyone would be able to can in bulk without one.
The first time I tried canning tomato sauce, it was a disaster. It took me an entire day just to chop, peel, seed, juice, and strain the fruits, let alone can them (yah, be glad you weren’t there!).
I’m pretty sure that’s the day my husband decided to buy me a food strainer for Christmas.
I can’t believe how much easier this has made my life. I use it all the time for sauces, chutneys, purees, salsas, etc. Talk about a game changer!
You might already have one of these in your kitchen, but I find it’s best to have a dedicated ladle in my food canning equipment collection so I always know exactly where it is.
Trust me, you will use it all the time. If you don’t have one, I recommend getting a deep metal one that has pour spots on the sides like this one. It makes for quick work and less mess.
Once you get into canning, you’ll realize that a majority of your time and effort will go into cutting up the food.
Several hours (and hand cramps) later with a knife, and you’ll begin to dream about an easier way.
Trust me, you won’t know how awesome a simple tool like a food chopper is until you see how much it speeds up the prep work.
Though you certainly could just write in the top of the lids, canning labels are nice to have in order to stay organized.
It’s also fun to use them to dress up your jars, especially if you’re planning on giving them away as gifts.
I like to use these dissolvable ones because they’re easier to remove, and will come off quickly after soaking for a few minutes.
It’s not that expensive to buy the basic food canning equipment, tools, and supplies you need to get started. There are only a few essential things you’ll need right away, and you can pick up the other stuff as you gain more experience.
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In the comments below, share your favorite food canning equipment, supplies, and tools that you would add to this list.