Which canning kit is best?
Whether you want to make delicious fruit jams or crunchy pickles, a canning kit is essential for preserving produce. These kits usually come with everything you need to get started. All you have to provide is a set of jars and your preferred fruits or vegetables.
Canning itself is easy, but if you’re a beginner, it may feel like there is a lot of information to digest. For a comprehensive starter set with all of the necessary utensils and a helpful guide, check out the Penida Canning Supplies Starter Kit.
What to know before you buy a canning kit
How does canning work?
People have been preserving various foods for centuries, but many of us still don’t understand how the process works. The basic idea is simple. Place perishable goods in a container like a can or jar and apply heat to destroy the microorganisms that cause spoilage. Once the heating process is complete, seal the container so no air remains. Now that the air-tight container is sealed, you have a can or jar of preserved food that will last for years.
Canning sets typically preserve food using the “water bath” method. Also known as a “boiling water bath” or “hot water canning,” the process involves a large pot with a metal rack where you place your jars of cooked or uncooked produce. Boiling your jars in a water bath will create an air-tight seal and kill any remaining bacteria. Many canning kits include a specially-designed water bath. If yours doesn’t, any deep cooking pot will get the job done.
What to look for in a quality canning kit
Tools and accessories
- Jar lifter: Just as the name suggests, these tools can be used to lift jars or reposition them when they’re submerged in hot water. They usually resemble oversized tongs with a unique shape to grab on to cylindrical cans and jars.
- Lid lifter: These compact tools often feature a magnetic tip that can be used to remove the metal lid from a jar after it’s been sterilized.
- Canning funnel: Present in most canning kits, a funnel with a wide mouth can be used for pouring prepared produce into a jar without spilling.
- Rack: This metal platform can be used to lift and lower your cans from the hot water during the water bath process. Look for one with a heat-resistant grip or prepare to use your oven mitts.
- Jar wrench: Similar in appearance to the jar lifter, this tool can be used like a vise to secure your jar while tightening the lid.
- Tongs: Multi-purpose tongs are often included in kits so you can handle sterilized canning parts without risking contamination.
- Bubble popper: Air bubbles can cause a build-up of pressure during the water bath process, disrupting the seal and potentially breaking your glass jars. This tool removes bubbles and may come with lines for measuring headspace.
If you are new to preserving foods, look for a kit that comes with a booklet, DVD or video link of detailed instructions so you don’t waste time or valuable produce. These instructions often come with fun canning ideas and creative recipes to try out.
Cleaning and storage
Many canning kits are quite comprehensive, so consider how you plan to clean and store them when they aren’t in use. Some canning kits come with dishwasher-safe components, while others require handwashing. If you’re short on space, look for a kit with nesting components so all of the parts can be stored together.
How much you can expect to spend on a canning kit
The cost of a canning kit can vary widely depending on the size and included parts. Most people can expect to spend around $10-$30 for a set of basic canning tools, while kits that include a water bath are usually around $30-$75.
Canning kit FAQ
How long will canned goods last?
A. Most experienced canners say that unopened canned goods prepared at home will have a shelf life of one to two years.
What is pressure canning?
A. While water bath canning is most commonly used for fruits and vegetables, pressure canning uses even higher temperatures to preserve foods with low acidity, like meats, beans and seafood.
What’s the best canning kit to buy?
Top canning kit
What you need to know: This popular kit comes with tons of useful parts and a free instructional e-book.
What you’ll love: The accessories found in this canning kit include a jar lifter, wide-mouthed funnel, bubble popper and more. The included e-book also has over 20 canning recipes to stir up the imagination.
What you should consider: Some of the included accessories are made of plastic instead of stainless steel.
Where to buy: Sold by Amazon
Top canning kit for the money
What you need to know: This colorful set is affordable and includes a digital timer.
What you’ll love: The magnetic lid lifter can be used to remove canning lids from hot water without risking contamination, and the same tool can be used to remove bubbles. The included timer is very helpful for measuring precise times.
What you should consider: A few users received a defective timer with their canning kit.
Where to buy: Sold by Amazon
Worth checking out
What you need to know: This simple canning kit features a stylish look with solid construction.
What you’ll love: Perfect for experienced canners looking for a few extra tools, this three-piece set comes with a one-handed jar lifter, a magnetic lid lifter and a funnel with printed measurements. The red-and-white motif will look good in almost any kitchen cabinet.
What you should consider: The printed measurements on the side of the canning funnel could fade over time.
Where to buy: Sold by Amazon
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Patrick Farmer writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.
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