I started canning about 10 years ago. My mom did NOT have good memories of canning as a child, and as a result, she didn’t want to subject me to the same torture. However, when I planted my first garden (to get produce cheaper and tastier) I found some way of preserving all of that hard work! Back then, I started with tomatoes (although you now have to pressure can those now), but I still have plenty of things that I like to water bath can.
The first few years, I tried canning in my kitchen and found that not only did it get very hot, but it was hard to get the water to be consistent on my electric stove and I actually bent a few of the coils. Using my Camp Chef stove, I was able to keep the heat outside and my kitchen damage free…not to mention the mess! Having done it both ways, I have to say that canning outside is the best way to go. My Camp Chef stove, heats up very quickly, maintains that heat and I can hose it down when I get a spill (I can pretty much guarantee you will spill at least once during the canning process!)
If you are finding yourself with a lot of extra produce or just want to get “real” with your food, canning yourself is a MUST. In this post I will list what you need to get started. (This list may not be comprehensive, but is what I like to use when canning.
- Water bath canner with removable rack
- These are usually pretty inexpensive and not heavy duty. That is ok. You will not be cooking in the pot, mostly boiling water. *You can also use this to sterilize jars before filling.
- Jar lifter – I tried canning a few times without these and found myself dropping jars and burning my hands. Just trust me, you want these babies!
- Tongs – These are used when I can’t find my jar lifter and also to get the lids that are simmering in hot water.
- Heavy duty glove – I like this rather than a hot pad. You just need a full grip sometimes and the glove allows for that! The heavy duty glove allows you to touch hot water without soaking the glove and thereby saving your hand from boiling water.
- Timer – You will need to water bath your jars for certain amounts of time. A timer is the best way to ensure you get the correct time and also a good seal.
- Thermometer – Some jams and jellies, need to be cooked to a certain temperature. Use a thermometer. It is easier than guessing, especially in higher altitudes.
- Large stockpot (not pictured) – Buy the largest stockpot you can store in your house. Even if you don’t plan on doing massive amounts, it is still easy to achieve boiling over (aka a spill) when cooking/boiling for long periods of time.
- Large spoon – (not pictured) – Have one that will allow you to stir in the above stockpot.
- Ladle (not pictured) – Use this to get your product in the jar. Don’t pour. Trust me.
- Large mouth funnel (optional) – I have used these and when they disappear into the sandbox, I just rely on my ladle. You choose.
- Damp towel (not pictured) – This will ensure that the top of the jar is clean and ready to seal.
- Small saucepan – This is to simmer the lids before topping the filled jars.
- Vinegar – I add a few Tablespoons to the boiling water. We have pretty hard water here, and it prevents the jars from getting cloudy (this can be pretty dramatic…see picture below)
- Camp Chef Stove - Last but not least, the star of the show. It makes canning so much easier!
Getting everything in place is crucial to prevent spoilage of your hard work and to also ensure that you are safe and sound!
No Vinegar VS. Vinegar
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