How to Get Ready for Canning Season

by | Jun 9, 2021 | Canning, Preserve, Pressure Canning

We always like to be prepared, and being ready and prepared for the canning season is no different. With the shortage of canning supplies last year, it’s a good idea to stock up on the supplies you’ll need to preserve your food now, rather than waiting until your crops have been harvested. Here’s what we do to get ready for canning season.

A woman lifting jars of canned stew up into a pressure canner.

Whether we’re canning up homemade bone broth, our favorite beef stew, or perhaps a big batch of canned black beans, or maybe even preserving our surplus of eggs with our freeze-dryer, there’s nothing worse than having the harvest come in from the garden, only to realize you’re out of a pivotal supply.

We like to use this time of year after the garden has been planted, but before the harvest is ready to come in and get preserved, to take inventory of all our canning supplies and get our stores topped off to ensure we don’t run out of an important item just as our crops are ready for preserving.

You work so hard all spring and summer to grow a garden and bring an abundance of food into the home for your family. One of the reasons we’re so passionate about preserving food (especially canning) is because we love to reap the benefits of the garden all year, even during the months when it’s no longer productive.

So, each year, right about when I start seeing the cherry blossoms blooming, it reminds me that it’s about time to check my canning supplies.

We also like to do a lot of fermenting, dehydrating, and even salting here on the homestead. It’s not all about canning, but I’d say canning is the bulk of how we put up our food during the summer and fall.

A blue water bath canner next to multiple jars of canned peaches sitting on a butcher block counter top.

Take Inventory of Your Supplies

The first order of business, before you even look at your supplies, is to take inventory of last year’s harvest. We wrote an entire post just on preparing your pantry for the preserving season, so we recommend you go take a look at that post as well.

Next, when checking your canning supplies, you’ll want to take a look at your canning jars and ask the following questions…

  • Do you still have enough jars for the upcoming harvest?
  • Are your jars in good shape (no nicks or chips or cracks)?
  • If you find you’re short on jars, be sure to go order them or pick them up from your local hardware store ASAP.

Take a look at your canners! If you do any pressure canning, you’ll need to take in your pressure dial gauge to get it tested. If you use weighted jigglers, make sure you know where they are, locate them and keep them stored in an easily accessible location.

Check your double-tier trays that go into your canners and make sure they’re all in good working order as well.

Canning supplies sitting on a wooden counter top.

Must-Have Canning Supplies

One of the things that’s important to our family is saving money by being prepared ahead of time and by buying things in bulk. This includes canning supplies!

Items I like to buy in bulk are:

  • Canning Lids – I buy these by the sleeve from Lehman’s. Due to the pandemic, they’ve been behind on orders, but it’s always worth a try to see if you can save some money by buying bulk. Otherwise, you can grab lids in smaller quantities here.
  • Canning Rings (Bands) – you don’t actually need more rings than jars that you’ll can in a day. Because you’re not supposed to store your jars with the rings on, you only need to have them on the jars for 24 hours after canning. In my house, we often times can upwards of 100 jars in a single day, so I tend to keep more than the average household.
  • Jar Lifters – I never go into any canning season without having two jar lifters. I do not want to have them break right in the middle of canning without having a backup (I’ve had this happen, and it’s just too easy to drop jars or scald yourself without a jar lifter.)
  • Stainless Steel Funnel (and a backup) – if you’re doing serious canning each year, go ahead and splurge the extra money for a stainless steel option. The plastic funnels can take on bacteria and they just don’t hold up as well to heat. Trust me, the nice wide stainless funnels are the way to go.
  • Bubble Remover/Headspace Ruler – this always comes in handy for measuring headspace and removing any air pockets in the jars. It’s a smart idea to have a few of these in case you get some helpers while canning (or happen to misplace yours frequently!).
  • Black Sharpie Markers – each year I treat myself to a brand new box of black Sharpie pens. No jar goes into the pantry without getting the date and the item written on the lid. Don’t bother with cute labels, they just end up being a pain to remove each year, and since we use new lids anyway, I don’t mind writing on them.
  • Pomona’s Pectin – I love this pectin because it’s not sugar-based pectin. This means it will still gel even without sugar. The only drawback is that you have to use recipes that are specific to this pectin brand, but I like that I don’t need to add so much sugar to the jams and jellies I’m preserving. No more wasting money on those tiny boxes of pectin from the grocery store! Pamona’s pectin is completely shelf-stable and will last for years.
  • Thick Gel – I love this brand because it’s completely non-GMO made from an heirloom corn product. This is my favorite to use for pie filling. The nice thing about this thick gel is it works in a pinch to thicken sauces and gravies during the holidays, or if a friend with gluten-sensitivities stops by for dinner!
Jars of canned food on a counter.

Why Buy Bulk?

The above items are what I always have on hand when going into the canning season. I always recommend buying these in bulk because they last a very long time on the pantry shelf, so you can use them from year to year.

It’s also easier to do the research on the best brands when you’re not standing at the grocery store staring at various boxes, not quite sure which brand to choose.

And finally, buying in bulk will save you money in the long run!

A jar of tomato soup being lifted out of a water bath canner.
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