One of the best things about Fall is the abundance of inexpensive, yummy fruit--fresh from the tree. If you haven't tried canning or drying fruit, this is the time of year to give it a shot. Since I'm getting ready to bottle peaches and pears today, I thought I'd share my must-have canning tools. These tools make life so much easier!
Must-Have Canning Tools
I first began bottling fruit after I'd been married about four years. We lived in a tiny apartment with our newborn daughter, Steve was still in school, and money was scarce. I'll never forget my friend, Jessica, who invited me and another friend to her home to learn to bottle fruit. I don't remember what we bottled (I think it was applesauce), but I do remember learning to take care of my family when money was tight.
The fruit we bought was in season and inexpensive, and by bottling it, it fed my family all year. Besides the canning jars and lids that I had to purchase, I didn't have any tools for bottling. It was okay, though, because I had a friend who was willing to share.
If you are just starting bottling, don't worry about buying everything at once. Find a friend, a neighbor, or a relative who is willing to share! As you bottle more often, buy one thing at a time (starting with your favorite tool, or whatever you can afford) until you have everything that you need. Once you have your supply of tools, return the favor, and share with your friends and neighbors, too!
Water Bath Canner
The largest item you will need is a water bath canner. It should have a metal rack inside and a lid. Thankfully, these are not super expensive. (Yeah!) I'm sure you can find expensive versions, but the inexpensive versions work just fine.
This canner can be found on Amazon.com for around $18. I bought mine at Walmart for about the same price. It holds 7 one-quart jars, 9 one-pint jars, or 13 half-pint jars.
Many people won't think this next product is essential, but for me, it makes all the difference! When bottling fruit, blanching it first allows you to quickly remove the skin. I love using my pasta insert. I place several pieces of fruit inside and into the boiling water and then set my timer. When the timer goes off, I lift the insert and carefully pour the fruit into a bowl or the sink full of ice water.
If you don't have the funds for one of these right now, use a slotted spoon instead. The difference with a slotted spoon is that you can only take out one piece of fruit at a time. That means that some of the fruit will remain in the blanching water a little longer than needed. (I bought my insert from Ikea, but you can buy pots that come with inserts.)
I also use my pasta insert to freeze corn, broccoli and spinach.
Canning Tool Kit
A good tool kit will have four basic things:
- A canning jar lifter (used for lifting the hot jars out of the pot)
- A wide mouth funnel (for transferring fruit or sauce into the jars without making a mess)
- A magnetic lid lifter (for lifting the metal lids from the pan after sterilizing)
- A bubble remover and head space tool (helps remove air bubbles and ensure that you have enough water in your canner)
Some kits also include a jar wrench (for helping to open jars). My favorite tools are the jar lifter (if you only get one thing--that's the most useful) and the lid lifter. (The lid lifter is definitely not something you have to have. It's just really cool!
There are a couple more tools that I love for working with pears and apples. They aren't essential. They just make life easier.
My very favorite tool is my corer. I use it mostly for pears, but it works for apples, too. My kids also think it's a pretty fun toy. Before Lu ate her pear after school today, she cored it.
I also love my apple peeler corer slicer. It was given to me as a gift by the same friend who taught me to bottle. (Thanks, Jessica!) I just found out it's officially called an apple and potato slicer. I never thought to use it with potatoes! If you are working with apples for drying or bottling, this is a great tool. (Even if you aren't bottling, it's really fun to make fresh apple slices for pies or just to eat!
What's your favorite tool for canning? Did I miss anything?
Thanks for stopping by today! I'm so happy you are here. Before you leave, I hope you'll check out some of my recipes and projects. (The images below are linked.)