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 requirements like jars, measuring cups and spoons there a few tools you might want to consider adding to your kitchen for making preserves.
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. If not, here are a few options:
#2: Dutch Oven
To put it mildly, I’m obsessed with my Le Creuset cookware! 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.
Here are a few of my faves for every day use and making preserves:
Unsure of making such an investment in a piece of cookware? Check out The Le Creuset French Oven post for more details.
#3: The Utensils
When you’re canning everything is boiling which means everything is hot, hot, HOT. These tools may seem silly, but they are insanely useful and absolute must-haves. You can substitute when it comes to other items, but not these!
#1: Jar Lifter – This is a must have for putting jars in/out of boiling water to sterilize and for moving jars in/out of the canner for processing. Regular tongs suck for this – I cannot emphasize that enough. These tons are designed for moving jars, they’re a bit grippy and you’ll avoid canning accidents!
#2: Magnetic Lid Lifter – This seems like a silly thing, but it’s worth it! Remember that you have to sterilize jar lids and seals as well as jars, and there is no easy way to get them out of that hot water bath with tongs! This magnet picks them up quickly and its long handle keeps hands from getting burned!
#3: Wide Mouth Funnel – This is the best funnel for filling jars with fruits, veggies and even brine. The wide mouth fits almost any size jar and rinses really quickly, too. It’s a must-have for filling jars quickly and cleanly – it makes for less wiping, spills and cleanup.
#4: Bubble Remover – This item isn’t as much of a must-have for me. I feel like a butter knife will suffice, but it comes in most canning tool sets.
Shop my favorite canning tools:
#4: Wire Cooling Rack
As jars come out of the canner wet, it’s nice to have a cooling rack to set them on. I feel like the airflow below helps cool jars more quickly and evenly, 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 because you can fit a good number of jars on it. It’s also really sturdy, so it works for larger, heavier jars, too. Here are some of my picks:
You’ll definitely need something to stir your fruit! I recommend using rubber spatula that’s rated for high heat. It will allow you to scrape the edges and bottom of the pot! A spoon-spatula is really useful, too!
I also recommend a ladle for skimming any foam off the top when making jam as well as for filling jars with fruit or brine. A ladle with a pouring rim is more expensive, but in my mind, totally worth it! Here are some of my faves:
#6: Fruit Prep Tools
When you’re preserving, there is a TON of prep work that you have to do with the fruit. Unless you’re a seasoned chef with a pairing knife, there are a few tools that you can buy to help expedite the processes here. I recommend a cherry pitter, a strawberry huller, a citrus press, a citrus zester and a muddle. Here are what I use in my kitchen:
#7: Towels + Gloves
You’ll go through a lot of kitchen towels while you’re canning – from wiping jar mouths to drying jars off, so make sure you’ve got lots on hand. My absolute favorite are The Honest Company’s Woven Kitchen Towels.
Canning is also a hot job, so make sure you have the right oven mitts. I suggest “The Ove’ Glove” because it allows for more dexterity (which you’ll need) than traditional oven mitts. They’re also good to really high temperatures. Keep in mind that these guys aren’t water proof, though, so if you do get them wet, the scalding water will come through! Here’s what’s in my kitchen:
Canning Tool Sets
If you are a beginner and have never canned before, then I suggest picking up one of these canning sets. They include almost all the tools you need to get started! This kit (shown above) 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.
Shop Canning Kits:
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!
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