canning (curing, pickling and preserving)

Home Canning
Curing, pickling and preserving your own foods

It's your job as a prepper to learn how to overcome the fear of
waterbath canning and pressure canning!  Home canning is an
prepper skill should the unthinkable happen and the
world as we know it goes off the grid, yet many people are scared
of it.

You'll need to know how to can to survive food shortages and get
through the winters whether it's a long term off-grid scenario or
Great Depression. If you already know how to can, then
you can skip this very basic information about canning. If you've
never tried canning, then consider giving it a go, because canning
is an important survival skill.

If you have some experience using a water bath canner and want
to graduate, then go for it! Mother Earth News says, if your goal
is to become more self sufficient ant save money, you will
eventually graduate to a pressure canner. "
A pressure canner
raises water beyond the boiling point, which allows food to reach
temperatures as high as 240 degrees. That temperature kills
certain bacteria, including Clostridium botulinum, which causes
botulism food poisoning."

Top Ten Considerations for Home Canning
Build your pantry on a budget with home canning, here's how...

#1: Have the right tools.
When it comes to canning, the most important selection is the
canner! There are many brands and kinds of pressure canners.
Here are the good ones...

Pressure canners:

  • All American Pressure cooker/canner. The All American
    Pressure cooker is an extremely high quality, heavy weight
    canner for the serious prepper.  This solid canner weighs 20
    pounds when empty. The slide clips and screw-downs
    securely fasten the lid to the pot. No blow-outs with this
    baby. It has a weighted pressure gauge to make operation
    almost foolproof with no gasket required!

  • Presto Deluxe 23-Quart Pressure Canner and Cooker. The
    Presto 23-quart pressure canner, pictured right is the #1 best
    seller, probably because it's dependable and it's priced to
    sell. You can get this canner for under $80 delivered to your

Why can't I just pressure can everything? You may be tempted to
just go with a pressure canner, but lots of foods will be
unappetizing if you use a pressure canner. You really need to use
both methods. Foods like jams and pickles are ideal for water
bath canning. A pressure canner would destroy them! To quote an
expression from the 80s, "Gag me with a spoon!"  You'd certainly
get the gag reflex if you''d improperly canned relishes and
chutneys, too.

So what are good water bath canners for jams, jellies, pickles,
relishes, chutneys? Here are two good choices:

Water bath canners:

  • Granite ware steel / porcelain water bath canner. The
    Granite Ware steel/porcelain water bath canner with rack,
    pictured below, is the #1 best seller!

  • Ball water bath canner.  This is a canner ideal for high acid
    foods, such as tomatoes, jams, jellies, juices, fruit spreads,
    chutney, pickles, and relishes. It's not for low acid foods,
    such as meats or seafoods.

Amazon's Canning Store is a great place to start to find all the
canning tools you need, and we have a big list at the bottom of
this page, so keep reading. The great thing about Amazon is that
people who can at home have already rated the equipment, so
you can learn about the best options for canning from others. You
can be confident that Amazon sellers are prompt at sending your
wares, and often with free shipping. Try using your American
Express points on Amazon to purchase your canning equipment.
Or if you open an Amazon card, you may get savings. With these
two options, the entire cost of your canning products order might
be free! Consider stocking up on jars, rings, lids.

#2: Start clean.
It goes without saying that jars must be sterile, but keep in mind
other important cleanliness factors of canning. Keep cutting
boards and any other work surface "operating room" clean to
avoid cross contamination. Be extra thorough in using a scouring
solution that has chlorine bleach, and sterilize your hands too!
Know that the deadliest bacteria in your home is the catcher in
the drain of your sink (not the toilet seat as you might expect).

#3: Take it easy, start small.
Make small batches to control your work and to gain expertise.
Generally it should take 2 hours from harvest to can, but you can
work within your own time constraints.

Here's a
grand champion peach jam idea from that's
easy enough to make and sure to impress.

#4: Follow safe canning practices.
Here is a list of best practices for canning:

  • Cook with quality, heavy-bottomed pots. Never use a
    saucepan for canning because it may boil over and not cover
    your jars adequately.

  • Waterbath method: Wait until your water reaches a rolling
    boil before you set your water bath time.

  • Pressure Canner Method: Start your pressure-canner
    processing time only after releasing air to achieve the
    desired pressure.

  • Always use a rack (and not a folded towel) to set jars
    because this will avoid breakage and ensure proper water

  • Label and date everything, and keep track of stock so you
    can ensure a proper shelf life.

#5: Consider altitude in canning.
Water boils at different temperatures and you'll have to offset
your procedures if you move from a home at sea level to an
escape home in the mountains. The higher your location, the
lower your boiling point.

#6: Create space for your canning needs.
You'll need a new home for your canning equipment and the
creations you stash away.

#7: Know what not to can.
Low acid ingredients, including pasta, rice and barely can't be
canned safely moist, they must be dried.  Dry canning is a good
option for these shelf-stable foods. Also you should avoid canning
eggs, milk, cream, cheese or butter yourself.

#8: Consider that maybe pressure canning isn't for
you (at least just yet).  
There's no pressure! You can get into canning by dry canning
something! You will feel good about "putting up" food and you'll
realize that canning isn't so scary after all. While you're gaining
your canning confidence, stock up on
freeze dried foods. There are
other methods of preserving (see list below).

  • Get into dry canning! Dry canning is a great start for newbie
    canners. Jump-start your pantry planning with Meals in a Jar,
    a book by Julie Languille, that's filled with recipes for dry
    canned meals. When you're done, just pull your can off the
    shelf, mix it with water, cook and serve!

#9: When in doubt, throw it out!
Trust your instinct Never taste test foods. (See the important
note about canning directly following.)

Botulism: An important note about canning.
Botulism is a very rare and yet very real possibility when canning.
botulism is potentially fatal. A nerve toxin, produced
by the bacterium Clostridium botulinum, can cause a paralytic
illness. Victims of botulism may include vision problems (double
vision, blurred vision, drooping eyelids), as well as dry mouth,
difficulty swallowing, slurred speech and muscle weakness.
Untreated the condition goes on and may progress to paralysis of
muscles in arms, legs, torso and the muscles that control

Thankfully you can prevent botulism! Strict hygienic procedures,
reduce risks. Knowing the warning signs of food containers is
another good place to start.

    Warning signs of botulism in food include:
  • cans that leak, bulge, or are dented;
  • jars that are cracked, loose or have bulging lids;
  • canned food that has a foul odor;
  • containers that spurt liquid when opening.

It's important to note that you should never do a taste test on
any food that has a warning sign of botulism! Even a small
amount of botulinum toxin is potentially deadly. While botulism
today is a relative minor threat, this is because people today
don't often can! Preppers are canners and as such should take
extra precaution.

#10: Take heed from USDA and UC Davis on home
The USDA provides everything to know about home canning,
including canning fruit, tomatoes, and vegetables; poultry, red
meats and seafood; fermented foods and pickled vegetables; and
preparing canned jams and jellies.

Complete List of Canning Tools To Own
Wondering whether you need a pressure canner or a water bath

#1: Pressure Canner.
The USDA recommends pressure canning as the only safe method
for low-acid foods, such as vegetables, meat, poultry and
seafood. You'll need a pressure canner for these kinds of foods
because these foods have more bad bacteria to destroy than you
can do in a water-bath.

  • Combo Pressure Canner + Pressure Cooker: The Presto
    01781 23-Quart Pressure Canner and Pressure Cooker,  is
    more than adequate for any home canning needs, and by far
    the most popular pressure canner! It's a professional-quality
    tool with an accompanying rack that fits down into the pot to
    keep jars up off the bottom. This enables liquid to circulate
    underneath. Best of all it doubles as a large pressure cooker!
    The sturdy lid locks down during canning or cooking; an inner
    sealing ring keeps the steam in. This pressure canner
    includes a booklet with more than 50 recipes.

#2: Water Bath Canner.
The water bath canner produces sufficient temperature in the
canning jar to kill the bacteria and push out air bubbles of high
acid foods, including:
  • jams, jellies, preservers, conserves, fruit butters and
  • pickled foods, relishes and vinegar-based foods such as sour

Just about any large stockpot with a lid will work provided you
have a rack to keep the jars off the bottom; however, the Granite
Ware Steel/Porcelain Water-Bath Canner with Rack, pictured right,
is the most popular brand. It's a classic water bath canner as it
provides excellent heat distribution.

And then there's the Victorio VKP1130, pictured left, which has a
built-in temperature indicator with three color-coded elevation
settings. The rack allows you to process food by the steam or
water bath method. It has a tempered glass lid with steam vent.

#3 Canning Jars, plus lids and rings.
Canning jars are available in pints and quarts. Look also for jelly
Mason jars.

#4: Canning Funnel.
A funnel will not only make your job easier (less mess to clean
up), but you won't waste food, so don't skimp. Get yourself a set
of quality canning funnels to fit a variety of jars.

#5: Canning jar lifter and lid wand.

#6: Kitchen Timer.
A kitchen timer is an indispensable tool in the kitchen for all your

#7: Canning agents (thickeners).
  • Pickling salt or canning salt
  • Pectin (powdered and liquid pectin)
  • ClearJel:
  • Hoosier Hill Farms, ClearJel, is a modified cornstarch
    used by many commercial bakers in fruit pie fillings.
    This cornstarch works well with acidic ingredients and
    tolerates high temperatures. And, it's the first starch to
    be recommended by USDA for canning fruit pie fillings at
    home! Due to acid and freeze-thaw stability, maintains
    consistency after canning or freezing. Use ClearJel to
    make smooth gravies, sauces and soups with the same

More good to own canning equipment and tools:
  1. Canning cookbooks
  2. Heat resistant oven gloves
  3. Colander, measuring cups
  4. Large spoons for mixing and stirring, slotted spoons
  5. Pairing knives, veggie peelers
  6. Food mills, food processor or a blender for sauces
  7. Squeezer and juicer

Common Canning Questions:

  • Why use pickling salt? Because pickling salt has no
    additives. It's pure salt!

There are many ways to treat or handle food in order to stop or
slow down food spoilage.

Happy endings...
Get started canning today. Shop
Amazon's Canning Store for
canning jars, canning lids, pressure cookers and canners, canning
kits, food strainers, stock pots, canning tools, vacuum sealers,
canning cookbooks, and more.

Canning is the most popular of the
ten methods of preserving
food (canning, curing, drying, fermenting, freezing, jellying,
smoking, sugaring and vacuum packing).

You think, therefore you can! We hope you have a "Ball" while
canning. Consider also
dry canning and dehydrating your foods.
Canning is an essential skill in self reliance. Have no fear in
canning, but do have a healthy respect for proper canning
practices, including also hygiene and always
beware of botulism
risks in canning.

Related articles...

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