I'm learning water bath canning. Tips, tricks, and recipes requested!

I’ve decided to learn canning so I don’t have to keep buying food with heaven knows what ingredients in it. I’m sticking with hot water canning for now because A) Pressure canning equipment is expensive and B) Pressure canning kinda scares me.

I have the America’s Test Kitchen canning book but I wanted to know what kind of experience and recipes you Dopers can teach me about. So far I’ve made a batch of blueberry jam, strawberry jam and strawblueberry jam. Now I’m obsessing over where to find jars.

Thanks, everyone!

Tomatoes do well water bath canned. I make whole tomatos, tomato sauce, picante sauce and a secret recipe of chili sauce. There are countless recipes of tomato soup bases. Other veggies need to be canned in a pressure cooker
Pickles and relishes are easy to make, also.

To find cheap-to-free jars, become a fixture at estate and garage sales. People are often happy to have you just haul them away. But be warned: This method probably will require some dedication to clean-up of the treasure.

You may even find an inexpensive All American pressure canner (the holy grail of pressure canners!).

If you do a lot of canning like I do, you may want to acquaint yourself with Tattler reusable lids and seals. Regular canning lids are inexpensive, but you’ll appreciate having these the next time there’s some freak-out among the citizenry and they go missing at the local Bi-Mart. Pro-tips: I have much better results with the regular-sized Tattlers than the wide-mouth ones. And if you keep an eye on their site, you can often catch some fabulous sales at the end of the canning season.

Your canning “bible” is the Ball Blue Book Guide. It has good, basic instructions for virtually anything you want to water-bath can. It’s a superb jumping-off point to move into ever more exciting canning adventures. Like ketchup. :wink:

Thank you, I’ll look into those lids and the Ball book. I’m steeling myself to make orange marmalade but the prep time is kind of daunting.

I thought the O.P.'er wrote " Water Bath Caning ", and that just sounds Hanoi Hilton- level atrocious.

I used to can homemade jam. Strawberry, Blueberry and Spiced Peach. Industrial-sized batches, because who the hell boils an immense pot of water just to sterilize 3 jars of jam? Please. 20…40…whatever.

Tips? I did the whole ritual. Scalded in the dishwasher. Great trick- run the dishwasher with nothing but white vinegar first, to rinse out the soap lines so no dishwashing soap can possible get into the jars. Then time the dishwasher so they are WICKED hot and just finished as you are boiling the water. Works great !! )

So, I never removed the rings. I would boil those filled jars hard and long, and then of course invert for the proper number of minutes so that the top 1/4-1/2" of the jar was very sterilized with the boiling jam. Then flip all jars over so they were upright.

Rarely would a lid not suction down properly. But if you get one that doesn’t truly seal, put it into the fridge when they cool down. Dying of salmonella sounds like it sucks. :eek:

About 90-95% of the lids would be vacuum-sealed. But, for some reason, I always left the rings on. I frequently gave these as gifts to the kids’ teachers in elementary school as holiday gifts, and perhaps I was afraid the lid would pop off on the way home, etc. Anyway, lids and rings can be bought separately in boxes and are dirt cheap.

Be very religious about the units of measure. I always used the Sure-Gel liquid packs, not the powder. No idea why. I had great success with it.

I do believe another trick that worked very well was to put a few pats of real butter into the boiling fruit as it really came to a hard boil- it stopped the fruit from foaming up too much. ( This was after you’ve stirred in the pectin ).

Enjoy !! Prepare to get VERY VERY sticky messy. Be careful of small spills as you are handling the boiling fruit- burns like that suck. Buy a Ball funnel - it fits the jars perfectly and saves a HUGE mess. I wasn’t on with that the first few years. Using just some random big ladle? Disaster.

I’ve not done this since about 2002- funny how it all comes flooding back.

Properly boiled and sealed, I would pull a jam jar off of the shelf from 1994 in 1999 and it’d be flawless and tasty. Examine jars as the years go by. If you see fuzz, mold or discoloration, ditch it.

Have fun !!!

You want daunting? Try recreating Lady Marmalade instead.


We can tomatoes, peaches, jams, pickles and pear sauce. For success with jams, I highly recommend using pectin unless you like standing over a hot boiling pot of jam, stirring for the rest of your life trying to get it to 220F. Unless you’re making freezer jam, of course, which is far simpler. Pectin (which is a natural plant product) has instructions right on the box. A great combination is blueberries with mint and lemon zest.

Tomatoes require additional acidity, so you have to add 2 tablespoons of lemon juice to each quart. Tomatoes also take a long time in the canning bath: about an hour and a half per batch.

It is very important to follow USDA guidelines for canning, and the Ball Canning guide mentioned above does that. Things like head space in the jars and cooking time are critical and not to be ignored. Also, there are things that you just cannot safely can.

If you like pickles, you’re going to love the ones you make yourself. Find some pickling cucumbers and go for it. Dills require refrigeration, but sweet pickles can be water bathed and are shelf-stable. Trust me, you’ll never buy another jar of bread & butter pickles from a grocery store.

Thank you all for the info. I like to tweak recipes when I cook but it looks like I’ll have to fight the urge. Now I have all kind of canning supplies on my Amazon wish list. I’ll have to drop hubby some subtle hints come Christmas shopping time

You can do that to a certain extent, such as adding herbs, but messing with things like the amount of sugar required, the head space, the acidity, or other things the USDA tells you to do can be hazardous to your health. Also, if you can’t find a recipe for canning something, that most likely means it can’t be made shelf-stable.

We have a friend who routinely brings us things she’s canned, and we just as routinely throw them out immediately, as she has told us that she cuts the amount of sugar in half in her jams, or will can only a half full jar of something, or she’ll bring us something that she canned five years ago :eek:. I’m amazed that she hasn’t poisoned herself yet.