Some canning basics

There’s nothing that brings you into the glory of fall like the scent of apples and cinnamon. Making applesauce and apple butter are rituals in my kitchen. It starts with the visit to the orchard, and ends with pints of golden apple goodness to set aside for the winter. I put up apple butter with a friend, which is always a lot more fun than solo. And it’s easy!


If you have interest in canning anything such as tomatoes, salsa, pickles or applesauce, you will need to do a little investment in canning equipment. It’s not expensive, and you certainly don’t need to buy anything fancy. Check out garage sales and thrift stores for canning supplies, including jars.


The first essential piece is a canner. This is a large pot (any will do), but you must also have a canning rack (to keep the jars off the bottom of the pan). They come in all shapes and sizes. Probably the most common is made of enamel and has a rack that lifts the jars out of the hot water.

Jars and lids

Using Grandmas’s jars is perfectly acceptable, but make sure they are true canning jars. These are usually Ball, Kerr, Mason and others. Recycled mayonnaise and pickle jars is not acceptable and can be dangerous. These jars are usually designed for one use and are not made of the type of glass to hold up to repeat canning. Keep them for storing beans and rice.

Check your jars over carefully and don’t use if they are chipped. This can prevent sealing, and unsealed canned food is a recipe for spoilage and danger. You can reuse the screw bands, but should purchase new flats every year. Again, used flats don’t seal well.

Miscellaneous equipment

Again, search thrift stores for what you need to save a few pennies. You’ll need jar lifting tongs, measuring cups, measuring spoons, cutting board, knives, clean tea towels and hot pads.