The first year I started canning, I used a stock pot, tongs, oven mitts and lots of tea towels. It did the trick, but it was inevitably more challenging than using a few simple (and mostly inexpensive) tools. Outside of the standard measuring cups and spoons, here are my canning must-haves!
The canner itself is the main piece of gear you’ll need. These are often inexpensive and I bet if you ask, your grandma has one tucked away somewhere that you could use.
Jar Lifter, Magnetic Lid Lifter & Wide-Mouth Funnel: Ball Canning Utensil Set, $7.95, Target
You can either buy these items individually or in a set like this one. The jar lifter is essential as its rubber ends and round bottom make it much easier to lift jars out of the water than using traditional tongs. The magnetic lid lifter also speeds up the process of lifting lids and seals out of the water from being sterilized. The wide mouth funnel is another requirement – I bought one of these a few years ago and filling jars was way easier, faster and much less messy. This set also comes with a “bubble remover” which can easily be substituted for a butter knife.
Another utensil set to consider (this one has a thermometer and jar wrench): Granite Ware 5pc. Canning Tool Set, $13.99, Target
*Editor Pick: Comprehensive Canning Starter Kit!*
Granite Ware 8 pc. Canner Set, $34.99, Target
This kit has everything you need to start canning with a few extra perk pieces, too! The set includes a 21.5-quart canner pot with lid, a jar rack, jar wrench, magnetic lid lifter, tongs, jar lifter and a funnel.
Cooling Rack: Calphalon Kitchen Essentials Cooling Rack (11″ x 16″), $9.99, Target
As jars come out of the canner wet, it’s nice to have a cooling rack to set them on. I like to place a tea towel underneath to absorb extra water droplets as the jars cool. I like the large size of this one in particular.
Le Creuset Dutch Oven, prices vary by size and style, Classic Round Oven, $299, Sur La Table
I love how the cast iron holds the heat and distributes it evenly for cooking fruits. I also love that the enamel coating does not stain or stick making it easy to wash between different batches with little slow down and no scrubbing required. I’ll never make jam with a regular pot again. Unsure of making such an investment in a piece of cookware? Check out The Le Creuset French Oven post for more details.
For spatulas and fruit preparation tools: See It’s the Little Things in the Kitchen for a list of these items.
Looking for some great canning recipes? See our list of Recipe Books: Preserves!
Also, don’t be afraid to try the ones that come inside the boxes of pectin crystals!