water bath canning 101

Water Bath Canning 101

Water bath canning is a way to preserve your food and recipes so that they will last for longer amounts of time outside of a refrigerator without spoiling.  High acidic foods can be processed using the water bath canning method.  Low acidic foods require the pressure canning method.  Your recipe should tell you if it requires a water bath or pressure canning process as well as the amount of time needed to process the food.


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For water bath canning you will need a water bath canning pot with a lid and rack designed to hold canning jars.  Amazon sells a great 9 piece kit made by Granite Ware that has everything you will need to process your jars for a great price and the shipping is free (It is the same one I use and I am very happy with it).   

Additional Items

You will want a wide-mouth funnel, jar lifter and colander (all included in the Granite Ware kit from Amazon)


Traditional canning jars are made of tempered glass to withstand the heat inside a canner.  They come in various sizes depending on what it is you are canning.  I use all of the quart, pint, and half pint sizes.  I prefer wide-mouth jars but since my new discovery of using the regular mouth canning jars as a magic bullet with your blender I will probably be buying more of the regular mouth for that purpose too.

Honestly you can never have too many jars.  We give our recipes away as gifts, use them for home decor and arts & crafts so I tend to buy more jars every once in awhile to restock.


Use screw bands and flat metal lids that have a seal.  The flat lids are designed for a one-time use only while the bands can be used as long as they aren’t bent (these come with your first batch of jars).

Water Bath Canning 101

*Always read and follow the manufacturer’s directions when canning your own foods. These are the steps I take when canning my foods, make sure you check with the most recent USDA Complete Guide to Home Canning before you begin to process your own foods at home. There are two different methods to water bath canning; hot pack and cold pack.  The cold pack method is where you take your uncooked food pack them into the jars and cover with hot boiling liquid.  The hot pack method is when you take cooked or partially cooked foods that are still hot and pack them in jars covered with hot boiling liquid.  Either way you choose to pack your jars these are the steps you will want to take:

1. Wash your empty canning jars with hot soap and water and make sure you rinse well to kill bacteria.  Keep your jars in hot boiling water until you are ready to pack them, or leave them in a 200 degree oven to keep them hot for packing.  If you are processing foods that have a 10 minute time or less you will need to sterilize your canning jars.  The manufacturers directions should tell you how to prepare your lids, make sure you follow those guidelines.

2. Fill canner half full with water; cover and heat over high heat.

3. Prepare your food in a clean work environment.

4. Place hot jars on a towel or cutting board.

5. Pack your food into jars using a wide-mouth funnel allowing for adequate room from the top of the food to the top of the jar (known as head-space), most recipes will state the head-space requirement.

6. If necessary, ladle or pour boiling liquid over the food leaving adequate head-space.

7. Remove any air bubbles using a rubber scraper or non-metal utensil. 

8. Wipe rims of jars with a clean cloth and place flat lids on jars; add metal bands according to directions.

9. Place the jars into the canner being careful for jars to not touch each other.

10. Process jars at a full rolling boil for the exact amount of time the recipe calls for.  If the water stops boiling at any point during processing you must bring it back to a boil and restart your process time.

11. Remove jars and place on a towel or rack to cool.  Leave at least 1 inch of space between jars and make sure there isn’t a draft as jars can explode due to the rapid change in temperature.

12. After jars are completely cooled (24 hours) press the center of each lid to see if they sealed. If the bump is down then your jar sealed.  If the bump lifts up and down then your jar did not seal properly.  You must start over with a new lid.

13. Label your jars with the contents and the date.  Here is a list of free labels that I have designed myself for you to use.  It is also a good idea to label the batch number in the event that one of the jars in a batch goes bad you can identify and remove the others from the same batch.

14. If sealed properly it is safe to use the foods you processed within 1 year of processing.

Don’t stop with the Water Bath Canning 101 tutorial learn more in the Pressure Canning 101 tutorial!

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