Sunday, July 11, 2021

Canning Supplies for Beginners

Are you a first time canning?  Here are my must have canning supplies for beginners that you'll need to get started.  I also list some items that are nice to have but not necessary to get started.

As canning season continues in full swing, many are looking into getting into canning for the first time. However, canning can be a very daunting task, especially for beginners. 

Fortunately, information on canning isn’t exactly rare, and it can be an incredibly rewarding experience when done right.

If this is your first time canning, you might wonder what do I need to start canning?

My mom didn't can, but my grandmothers did.  I was familiar with the basic process and the must have canning supplies. 

I was fortunate in that a lot of canning supplies got passed down to me.  I was given a water bath canner, jars, and several tools that would become invaluable for canning.

Following is the ultimate beginners guide on everything you need to start canning like a pro!

How to Get Started Canning

What All Do You Need to Start Canning?

You'll need a canner, either a pressure cooker or a water bath canner, jars, rings and lids, and some tools.  The canner will be your biggest investment followed by the  jars.

How Do I Start Canning at Home?

When you learn how to get started canning, it can seem daunting.  I promise you that you'll have it figured out very quickly.

I recommend reading through some recipes and then starting with a simple recipe like canning sliced fruits.  Then make a list of what do I need to start canning and start gathering supplies.

Can You Do Canning Without a Pressure Cooker?

Yes, you can absolutely do canning at home without a pressure cooker.  However, you won't be able to can all foods.  

You'll need a pressure canner for low acid foods, which includes most vegetables, and for meats.  You can definitely get by with a less expensive water bath canner to make sure you like canning before investing in a pressure canner.

Is Home Canning Worth It?

Yes, I think it is.  We know that we grow organic food.  It's healthy and tastes better than food from the store.

It also saves a lot of money.  Sure, there's an initial investment to buy canning supplies for beginners, but each year that you can, you'll save money.

Pressure Cooker & Water Bath Canner

To start, you will need a way both a pressure canner and a water bath canner for your canning. Both devices are very similar, but are good for canning different foods.

You'll use a water bath canner for for jams, jellies, and most fruits.  For vegetables, meat, and some other low acid foods, you will need a pressure cooker. 

A water bath canner is a small investment compared to a pressure canner.  If you're just getting started, you can buy a water bath canner and use that for high acid foods for a few years to get used to canning before buying a pressure canner

Do not use a water bath canner for a recipe that must be pressure canned.  The food will not be safe to eat.  

As far as I know, there is no such thing as a safe electric pressure canner.  I wish there was because I would buy one, but my research does not say that any electric pressure cooker, including the Instant Pot, is safe for canning.

Canning Jars, Rings, & Lids

Canning jars are the basic canning supplies for beginners.  There are multiple sizes of canning jars that you will want to look into to start. From smallest to largest, there are 4 oz jars, half pint jars, pint jars, and quart jars. Depending on what and how much you are canning, you will need different sized jars.

I've been canning for almost 20 years.  I use quart jars the most, then pints, and finally jelly jars.  I very rarely use a 4-ounce jar for canning, but I do use them food storage all the time.

You will also need to know the difference between regular and wide mouth jars. The difference between the two is that wide mouth jars do not bend inward towards the mouth of the jar meaning that the mouth is, you guessed it, wider. 


The wide mouth jars are easier to get food in and out of, but the lids and rings aren't readily available.  I reserve my wide mouth jars for foods that are hard to get out of the jar like pie fillings.

Additionally, you will also need to have the appropriate rims and lids for your jars. Thrift stores can be great places to find mason jars for a low price. 

However, if you are buying jars second hand or from a discount store, it's still best to buy lids new because you don't know how old they are or if they've been used.

You can use jars and rings over and over again.  Lids, however, need to be replaced after each use.  I buy lids in bulk from a bulk food store.  You can also find lids in bulk on Amazon.

Learn how to sanitize canning jars before canning.

Jar Lifter

Once you have your food, jars, and canner ready, you will need a way to get the jars in and out of the canner. This is where the jar lifter becomes one of the essential canning supplies for beginners, as it allows you to easily move the hot mason jars around your kitchen or canning room.


The canner needs to be incredibly hot for canning, and as such you will not want to touch the cooker or the jars when they are being removed from the cooker.

You might be tempted to just use tongs, but please don't do this.  I did this and dropped a jar.  I lost all of the food I'd prepared as it was the last jar going in, and I couldn't be sure that the glass didn't get in another jar even when sealed.

A Surplus Of Towels

Canning can and will be an incredibly messy process. Between spilling food and water, you will want to stock up on towels to keep your canning area dry.

You may also want a mix of hand towels, washcloths, and larger towels to tackle any mess or spill you may encounter.  I save old towels, so this is one of the canning supplies for beginners that I don't need to buy.

Larger Mixing Bowls

You’re going to want a good set of larger bowls for holding food and food scraps, such as when you are peeling fruit. Mixing bowls make it easy to contain messes and are incredibly easy to clean when you are done. 


When I started, I was using what I thought was a large bowl.  I quickly realized that I'd need bigger bowls.  

I now have two 30-quart bowls.  I pretty much only use them for canning, but they are so convenient.  Although I don't use these canning supplies for beginners a lot, when I do use them, they are very nice to have.

Food Strainer

Food strainers are incredibly useful for processing foods, especially softer foods like applesauce.  I have attachments for berries, pumpkin, and grapes.

Food mills save a lot of prep time.  For applies, I just quarter them and cook them.  The food mill removes the seeds and stems.  I save hours by not peeling or cutting out the seeds.

Reliable Home Canning Books

While the internet is a great place to get information about canning, nothing compares to a good canning book. Canning books have everything you will need to know about canning in a physical and tangible form.

Additionally, canning books can be taken anywhere and you will not have to worry about load times or false information.

When choosing a canning book, look for one that suits your needs and includes recipes that you are interested in making.  I recommend using the Ball Book of Canning.

No matter where you get your recipes, make sure they are tested and safe.  My grandmother's canning was a little different from my canning.  No one got sick, but I will not take any chances!


Funnels make it easy to pour liquids into jars without spilling them. You can also use them to pour in some smaller food that have a tendency to make a mess.

There are funnels for regular mouth jars and wide mouth.  You'll need one of each.


You can even find funnels that twist onto to mason jars to prevent mess and spillage. These are great for all kinds of recipes and help to keep your canning area clean.

While you can certainly fill a jar without a funnel, I am calling it a must have canning supply for two reasons.  I can a lot.  A funnel really saves me time when filling jars.  

Secondly, it's imperative to get a good seal, so the rim of the jar must be clean.  A funnel helps keep it clean, but you should still wipe it clean.

Other Canning Accessories

Once you have all the necessary supplies, you may want to look into some supplies that are typically seen as extra. These supplies are not necessary but can be useful for certain recipes or just quality of life.

Floor Mats

If you plan on canning for a long duration of time it may be wise to invest in a comfortable floor mat. This is especially so if your canning area is a hard floor.

A comfortable mat takes less of a toll on your feet and shoes over the course of the day. Additionally, being on your feet constantly can lead to back problems later on in life. 

Floor mats are great as they are comfortable now and save you pain in the future. Just make sure yours is large enough to fit the majority of your canning area.

Food Chopper

Food choppers make it easy to cut your ingredients down to the perfect size for canning. Whether you plan on chopping fruits, vegetables, or even herbs, a food chopper makes it easy to get the exact portions you need.


Spare Utensils

You may want a surplus of utensils to have on hand, especially if you don’t can in your kitchen. Spare forks, spoons, and knives are all useful to have with you while canning.

Additionally, you may want a set of stirring spoons, measuring cups, and other such household items.

As far as canning specific utensils go, you may want to pick up a canning ladle which makes it easy to get in and out of your jars.

Recipe Journal

I suggest keeping track of your favorite canning recipes in a binder and take careful notes each time you make it.  I have a printable canning journal to create your own binder.

Measuring Cups

I use my Pyrex measuring cup sets.  A few years ago, I invested in the 8-cup measuring cups.  They are so handy for jams, jellies, and even making pickles.

Dissolvable Labels

I was using a Sharpie to label my jars, but after marking the 10th jar, the Sharpie was dirty and wouldn't write well.  Now I use dissolvable labels.  I love these because they wash off easily.

Bubble Popper/Measurer

I bought this bubble popper when I was getting started and like it, but it's not necessary.  You use it to go around the edge of the jar to remove air bubbles.  

The other end has a ruler so you can measure head space.

Magnetic Lid Lifter

I didn't start out with a magnetic lid lifter, but I do really like it.  Before you place the lids on the jars, you need to heat them in hot water.  This helps move the hot lids to the jars so you don't burn your fingers or get germs on the lid.

Canning Accessory Kits

I'm putting a canning accessory kit under the nice to haves canning supplies for beginners, but they contain items that are on the must have canning supplies list too.  You can save money buying a kit, so it might be worth it to get the must haves and a few nice accessories.

Canning kits for beginners usually have the basics, so if you are brand new and have never canned, it might be worth it.  There are several canning kits available on Amazon, so you can choose the right one for your needs.

You might get overwhelmed at what do I need to start canning, but ask family and friends if they have supplies to get rid of.  Also check your thrift stores and marketplace.  You can often find canners at a fraction of their new price and free jars.

Canning can be a very rewarding experience, but a daunting one at that. While there are a lot of supplies that you will need, you may have a good chunk of them on hand. 

Further, you will need to spend some time researching the canning process, as well as what recipes you wish to make and can. 

There is simply nothing like the satisfaction you get from canning your own food, but everyone know the best part is getting to eat it too!

Ready to start canning with your must have canning supplies?  Check out these canning recipes:

This must have canning supply list was originally posted at Koti Beth Designs.

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