Water bath canning is the easiest and least expensive method of canning.
This makes it great for novice canners and experts alike. The process of water bath canning provides canners quite a few canning options, such as canning jellies, jams, vegetables, fruits and pickles. There are some limitations to water bath canning, namely foods that have low acidity, including many vegetables and meats. Water bath canning does not adequately preserve low acid foods, which can result in food poisoning. Low acid foods can only be canned using a pressure canner.
The process of water bath canning includes the canning jars being submersed into boiling water. This creates a vacuum seal within the jar and kills bacteria in the food, so it can be preserved even without refrigeration.
Water Bath Canning Equipment
A water bath canner is a large pot, at least seven quarts in size. They are usually made of aluminum or enameled steel. Inside the canner is a rack on which the canning jars are placed. These jars can be quart or pint sized. Water bath canners come with either a flat or a ridged bottom. Electric stoves can only accommodate the flat bottomed variety, whereas gas stoves can accommodate either type. The overall diameter of the canner can not be more than four inches wider than the stove burner.
Canning jars must be used, because they have special rings and lids. Their lids contain a compound which softens during the canning process. When this compound softens it creates the air tight seal needed to preserve food. The canning jars can be either regular or wide-mouthed.
The other tools used in water bath canning include:
- Plastic spatula: To remove air bubbles that build up along the jars.
- Jar lifters: For picking up the hot jars out of the canner.
- Funnels: For clean pouring of ingredients into the jars.
- Additional pots: Used for processing the food before the canning process.
- Cooling rack: To place the hot jars on to, so they can cool.
- Labels and permanent markers: For labeling the jars with the date and their contents.
Water Bath Canning Best Practices
Jars that have not been fully sealed can cause food poisoning. It is important to follow canning recipes very carefully. Also, if you live in an area with a high altitude, keep your jars in the canner an extra minute for every 1,000 feet above sea level. We suggest checking with a local canners club or cooking store to find exactly how long you should process the jars.
In addition to processing time, cleanliness of supplies is essential to ensure you produce a safe product. Sterilize jars and lids and wash all supplies in warm soapy water.
Water Bath Canning Opportunities
Below is a list of only some of the foods which can be canned using the water bath method. We hope this list will inspire you to get canning!
- Dill Pickles
- Fruit Jams & Jellies
and many more!