Canning 101: The Boil Water Canner Method

My house has never been cleaner…..

As in, (of course we’re in the middle of spring cleaning season, but…) now that the schools are closed due to the quarantine, all & I mean, ALL of our common areas are cleaned multiple times per day.

It’s a good thing!

Trust me when I say that I am not complaining.

There’s a lot of good that has come out of this time & I am most definitely embracing it, as I hope that you are too!

I have long felt a calling to the old-fashioned way of living: the way that our grandparents used to. Part of this whole virus and restructuring our daily lives has brought all of that back into focus for me.

My friends know that I am their baking-girl, their home-cooking-girl, their sewing-girl, and only few know me as their canning-girl.


Because I actually used to can a LOT more than I do now, and 5-6 years ago, what I canned, also became their Christmas presents & they loved it. Some of them would even look forward to it, and ask me before hand if I could throw in an extra jar. (Sweet!)

I love canning.

I don’t think that there is anything that I love more than canning, other than sewing.

I mean, there is something very invigorating about the whole process to me.

*Sidenote: This invigorating process that I speak of, doesn’t happen often for me, because I am using really hot stuff & I lot of hot boiling water, that I usually either wait until everyone is asleep or a time when everyone won’t be in the house so that I know for sure, for that couple of hours, no one could possibly get hurt. And when they walk back into the house, I’ve got jars resting. #missionaccomplished.

Let’s Talk Equipment:

There are a couple of ways to do your canning process:

1- Is to use a boil water canner

and the other

2- Is to use a pressure cooker

I have always done the boil water canner method. I do know people that do the pressure cooker method and there are things that you can can with the pressure cooker that you can’t with the boil water canner: green beans is one of them.

Equipment list:

  • a boil water canner or pressure cooker
  • a jar lifter
  • clean, sterilized mason jars
  • brand new mason jar lids
  • clean, sterilized mason jar bands
  • a couple of pot-holders and kitchen towels (as there is going to be a lot of hot stuff)

In general, you’re going to start out with fresh fruits or vegetables.

Next, there will be a process or a recipe, to your finished product that you will need to complete BEFORE you move on to the actually canning process, itself.

For example, if you were making a strawberry jam, to be canned, (that’s different from a freezer jam that stays in the fridge. I’m talking about processing it for shelf life, right now). You would want to have a pot, separate from your canner to cook your jam in. You will need to follow a recipe. For strawberry jam, most call for:

Fresh strawberries


pectin or some sort of acid, like lemon juice.

Once your jam is done cooking, you will have your jars, bands and lids, washed, dried and hot and sterilized ready to go, because you don’t want to pour hot steaming jam or jelly going into cold mason jars. They’ll bust!

Following a recipe, you will fill the jars up to the “headspace” required for that particular recipe, before you secure the canning lids & bands before placing them into the boiling water.

Let’s talk about “Head space”.

Head space is important.

The proper head space when canning is the difference between a lid that seals properly & one that does not.

You know when you snap open that fresh jar of pickles or that new jar of spaghetti sauce & you here that “pop”?

That’s the same sound that you want to hear when someone opens one of your jars….or it wasn’t done right.

(There, there, I have to tell you the truth about the process. Or else, what good is it?)

So back to head space, you want to “hear” that pop- twice. Once when the jar seals during canning & the other when your jar, after resting a while of course has been opened.

Canning can potentially be a dangerous process, if not done right.

The author of Things She Makes and/or it’s constituents take no responsibility or liability for events that occur during your canning process.

Readers of this blog should be aware that any recipes or processes that are tried are done so at the risk of the reader/participant.

Closing Thoughts.

I have never used a pressure cooker as my canning method but have loved the times that I’ve “put up” jars with my boil water canner.

The next time that we talk, I’ll walk you through a little more of the vocab on the canning end.

I hope that you get something out of this.

Talk soon.

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