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Preparing for Canning Season

Home canning season is just around the corner. Having equipment ready and recipes selected before fresh produce is available will allow a smooth transition to a busy time of year. Only choose recipes that have been developed specifically for the canning method you are using. Safe canning methods include the boiling water bath method, the atmospheric steam canner method, and the pressure canner method. Recipes should only come from research-based sources like the USDA, the National Center for Home Food Preservation, and Extension sources and should include the ingredients, preparation instructions, and processing times.

Check canners for signs of wear and corrosion on the body and lid. For pressure canners, gaskets should be inspected as well as gauges, petcocks, vents, and safety valves. Your local extension office may have the ability to check the canner and test the accuracy of dial gauges on pressure canners. Dial gauges that are off more than two pounds of pressure should be sent to the manufacturer for repair or replacement. Consider shipping time to and from the manufacturer to be sure your canner is ready when you need it.

Pre-season Canning Checklist

  • Canner Inspection
  • Jars (correct size, no blemishes)
  • Lids (new for each jar)
  • Ring bands (free from rust or blemishes)
  • Canning equipment (jar lifter, bubble freer, headspace gauge)
  • Pots or saucepans for blanching
  • Appropriate utensils (peelers, knives, long-handled spoons, etc.)
  • Research-based recipes

Other essentials that may need to be inventoried include canning jars, lids, and ring bands. Mason-type jars specifically designed for home canning should be used and are designed to withstand the heat treatment during processing. Jar size plays a role in process time. Use the size jar called for in the recipe. Two-piece lids are used to seal the jars in home canning. The lid, or flat metal disc, is only used once. The ring band may be re-used until it becomes rusty or dented.

Following research-based recommendations for home canning will lead to a safe product. Low-acid foods, or those with a pH higher than 4.6, such as vegetables, and meats must be canned in a pressure canner. Electric, multi-cooker appliances should not be used for canning.

More information on canning methods can be found in HGIC 3040 Canning Foods at Home. For information on home canning equipment, see HGIC 3020 Home Canning Equipment.

Removing air bubbles from a jar of hot pack tomato halves.

Removing air bubbles from a jar of hot pack tomato halves.
Rebecca Baxley, ©2019, Clemson Extension

Pressure canner with a dial gauge.

Pressure canner with a dial gauge.
Rebecca Baxley, ©2020, Clemson Extension

Loading the canner using a jar lifter.

Loading the canner using a jar lifter.
Rebecca Baxley, ©2019, Clemson Extension

If this document didn’t answer your questions, please contact HGIC at hgic@clemson.edu or 1-888-656-9988.

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