Learn All About Water Bath Canning: Video Workshop

What You'll Need

Hi! Karla here - homestead and housewares expert here at Mountain Feed.

I’ve been canning and preserving food for a long time. My pantry is always full of delicious, freshly canned foods that last me throughout the year. There’s nothing like opening a fresh jar of tomatoes, pickles or sweet fruit jam during those cold winter months and reminding yourself of the flavors of summer!

The Water Bath Canning Method

The most common method I use to can my own food is the water bath canning method. Today we’re going to go over all the basics for safely and successfully using the water bath canning method. Soon you will be experiencing the delicious taste of freshly canned foods throughout the year - a delight for you, your friends and your family - I know my little one loves it!

When Should I Use the Water Bath Canning Method?

The water bath canning method is used when preserving high acid food. These foods include tomatoes, pickles, jams, preserves and more.

So here is my 7-step guide to get started with water bath canning to fill your pantry with healthy preserved foods. You can find all of the canning supplies and water bath canning equipment you need in our Home Canning Department. We've even put together a curated list of Must-Have Canning Supplies that we recommend from our years of experience. Did I mention that we ship all over the world?

Remember, always follow the guidelines outlined by the USDA for safe home canning.

1) Prepare Your Equipment

Fill your water bath canner 2/3 full and begin heating. Your water bath canner can be a stock pot and canning rack, a water bath canner, or even a full water bath canning kit.

Select Your Canning Jars & Lids - Select jars free of defects, cracks or chips. Wash jars, lids, bands and all tools in hot, soapy water. Check out our full selection of home canning jars and canning lids if you're in need.

Sterilize Your Equipment - Sterilize your jars by using a jar lifter to place them in the hot canning water for 10 minutes above 185° F. Leave your jars in the hot canning water until you are ready to fill them so they remain sterile and hot. DO NOT BOIL your lids - wash them in hot soapy water instead. It is no longer safe to sterilize Ball canning jar lids in hot water before use.

2) Prepare Your Recipe & Pack Your Jars

Next, we prepare the recipe. Always follow a recipe when canning anything. Once you’ve gotten all of your ingredients & recipe prepared, you will be using either the hot pack or the raw pack method for packing the food into your jars. 

Hot Pack - The hot pack method is when you place hot food into hot jars. This is the best method for jam, jellies or applesauce. This is because these foods are hot, from being cooked, when they get packed into the jars.

Raw Pack - The raw pack method is placing cold food into hot jars which you then fill with boiling brine or syrup. This is often used for delicate foods such as peaches and is the best option for things such as cucumber pickles.

3) Remove Any Bubbles From the Jars

Once you have packed your canning jars, you'll need to remove all air bubbles with a bubble freer or with gentle tapping. This ensures that the food will be free of oxygen and be preserved safely. A nifty tool to have is a magnetic jar lifter/bubble freer combo.

4) Leave the Correct Headspace at the Top of Your Jars

Next adjust the headspace, which is the measurement of space between the lip of the jar to the top of the food or liquid. The general measurements for headspace on your jars are…

  • A quarter-inch for all sweet preserves, juices and relishes
  • A half-inch for pickles, fruits and tomatoes.

5) Place Your Lids On the Jars

Wipe the rims of the jars using a clean damp white cloth or paper towel to remove any food residue. Place a sterile lid on each jar using a lid lifter. Don’t touch the underside of the lid!

Screw the band on each jar of the lid. Making them finger tight. Try not to crank it all the way down air must be able to escape during processing time.

6) Process the Jars in the Canning Water

Put the jars in the canning rack and place them in your water bath canner. Begin the processing time when the canner comes back to a gentle boil. Process the jars according to your recipe for the full amount of time recommended. When the time is up, remove the jars using the rack or a jar lifter. Place the jars on a towel or other buffer for immediate cooling, so as not to shock the jars on a cold countertop or other cold surface.

7) Cool the Jars, Store Them and Enjoy at Your Leisure!

Cool for an additional 12 to 24 hours. Listen for the signature “ping” of the lids being sealed down. Do not push on the lids until the jars are completely cool. Once they are, push on the lids to make sure that they have sealed. Make sure to store the jars in a cool, dark place and enjoy within one year, for best results.

Ready for the Next Step?

Here are a few of our articles you'll enjoy as you get started water bath canning...

Always follow the guidelines outlined by the USDA for safe home canning.

Over to You...

It’s part of our mission here at Mountain Feed to help you make delicious, sustainable, homemade food more often. Stop by and say hello on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or Pinterest. Or, as always, you can do it the old fashioned way and come by the store to speak with one of our in-house experts.

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