Canning Tips & Tricks

Whether you're new to canning or experienced with preserving food, these canning tips and tricks will help simplify the process.

Photo: Mike Lorrig

Heading out the door? Read this article on the new Outside+ app available now on iOS devices for members! Download the app.

If you’ve ever found yourself wishing that summer—and incredible summer produce—could last forever, home canning is for you. From pickles to preserves, there are endless opportunities for preserving that don’t require much time, effort, or experience.

“People have this fear factor around canning,” says Lauren Devine-Hager, Fresh Preserving Community manager at Jarden Home Brands (maker of Ball jars and canning products) in Daleville, Ind. “But it’s not that hard.” Her suggestion for overcoming any preserving panic? “Grab a friend,” she says. In addition to helping with the prep and providing an extra set of hands, practicing with a pal makes any hobby more fun.

What You’ll Need for Canning

  • Latex kitchen gloves (to protect your hands from heat and spills)
  • 2 large stockpots
  • 1 canning rack or round cake rack (the diameter of 1 stockpot)
  • Spatula or wooden spoon
  • Ladle
  • Tongs
  • Clean, damp towel or sponge
  • Clean, heat-proof canning jars with new lids

Safety First

For jars of pickles and preserves that will keep in the cupboard for months, follow these important steps every time you preserve.

Sterilize jars and lids: Place jars in a large pot of simmering water, and place lids in a small pot of simmering water, making sure they are completely submerged. Remove pot from heat, but make sure water stays hot and jars and lids are submerged ready to use. (Alternately, heat jars and lids in the dishwasher on the rinse cycle.) Use tongs to remove jars and lids from hot water or hot dishwasher, and carefully shake dry.

Seal: Fill sterilized jars, leaving 1/4-inch space from the rim at the top (known as headspace). Wipe off any drips from around the edge with a clean, damp towel, then close the lid.

Process in a boiling water bath: Place a canning rack or cake rack in bottom of large stockpot, and fill pot halfway with water. Stand filled and sealed jars on rack in pot, adding extra water, if necessary, to cover jars by at least 1 inch. Bring water to a rolling boil, and boil jars 10 minutes. Carefully remove jars from pot with tongs, and allow to cool before labeling and storing them.

One-Stop Shopping

Need jars? Recipes? Advice? Log on to for canning supplies, preserving guides, and more recipes.

Trending on Vegetarian Times