Tips for the New Canner

Jessica is a homesteading and homeschooling mother of seven living in northwest Ohio.  She has a passion for encouraging other mothers to grow and preserve nutritious food for their families.

Jessica may receive commissions for purchases made through links on this post. Thank you for all your support! 


Hey, Homestead Mamas!  It’s Jessica here from Three Rivers Homestead and this month I would love to talk to you about food preservation.  August is the month when the harvests are plentiful for most gardeners, and if you aren’t growing the food yourself, you can typically find bulk local produce for great prices through local farmers.

The next question becomes – “How should I preserve all of this beautiful produce?”

For many new homesteaders and gardeners, food preservation can be an intimidating topic.  We have all heard horror stories about botulism or people’s kitchens being “blown up” by pressure canners.  These stories prevent a lot of people from ever even trying to preserve their food through canning methods. But I am here to tell you that canning isn’t as scary as it sounds.

First, botulism is extremely rare.  Think of the number of people around the country who are canning foods every year. A lot of those people aren’t following the safe canning guidelines described by the National Center for Home Food Preservation and still, cases are rare.  The CDC tracks home-canning related botulism cases every year and between 2001-2017 there were only 90 instances.  Think of the millions of people canning multiple batches of various foods over the course of that 16 year period and there were only 90 cases of botulism.  In those same years (2001-2017) there were 228 cases of botulism from other food sources – things that were not home-canned and many that were served in restaurants or grocery stores. 

All that to say – you are statistically unlikely to poison your family through botulism.  Follow safe canning guidelines as described by the National Center for Home Food Preservation and you virtually eliminate the risk.

If blowing up your kitchen with a pressure canner is your concern, there are several ways to avoid that:

1.      Only buy new equipment.
2.      If buying used equipment, get the pressure gauge inspected by your local canning extension office or fire department.
3.      Never leave the room when your canner is processing.
4.      Use a digital canner that controls pressure for you.


If you are new to canning, I always suggest starting with a water bath canner.  Water bath canning simply means boiling your jars in order to create a seal.  You can use any pot to boil jars, but you do not want your jars touching the bottom.  Always use a trivet.

Here is the water bath canner I recommend 

Buy yourself a good recipe book written by a Master Canner.  Master Canners are people who have gone through a certification process through a canning extension office and learned how to assess recipes for safety based on acidity and other factors.  Using these recipes ensures that you will get the safest possible outcome with your canning.

My favorite beginner book is the Ball Blue Book 

The Ball Blue Book has all of the basic recipes for the most common items, as well as information about how canning works and what equipment you will need to begin. 

Once you have your canning guide, the following equipment will also be helpful:

•       Stainless steel funnel
•       Ladle
•       Headspace measurer
•       Tongs for removing jars


Every canning project will have different preparation steps and processing times.  Some may involve more work, a bigger mess, and a greater time investment.  The following is a list of some of the easiest projects to begin with:

•       Canned Tomatoes
•       Tomato Sauce
•       Fruit Sauce
•       Fruit Jam
•       Bread and Butter Pickles
•       Dilly Beans
•       Raw-packed fruit slices

If you’re wanting to try pressure canning for the first time, I recommend starting with the following projects:

•       Dried Beans
•       Bone Broth
•       Raw-packed vegetables

Here is the basic pressure canner I recommend. 


Canning can be a lot of work, but it has such a big reward.  There is no better feeling to me than filling my pantry shelves with colorful jars of home-canned food.

Here are some final tips to ensure that you have the safest outcome with your canned goods:

• Do not reuse lids.  They are designed to be single use items.  While many people have success with reusing them, safety experts do not advise it. 

• Always make sure you are using clean produce that doesn’t show any signs of spoilage.

• Make sure all of your equipment is clean.

• Remove all air bubbles before processing.

• Always follow the guidelines for appropriate headspace.

• Make sure to store your jars without the rings to avoid creating a false seal.

• Always inspect the contents of your jars before eating – if the seal doesn’t seem strong, there are any signs of   spoilage, or an off smell – always discard the contents.  It is better to be safe than sorry.

Happy canning, friends!


Please join us by sharing, continuing the conversation below, and connecting with Jessica at the following:


Jessica may receive commissions for purchases made through links on this post. Thank you for all your support! 



Share on facebook
Share on pinterest
Share on email

MORE Stories

Misconceptions of the Homestead

My motivation to start homesteading sprouted many years before I spent any amount of time on social media.I’d never even spent much time on a farm! Oh, how I was so naive. I loved the idea of becoming self sustainable and growing/producing my own food. At the time I mostly wanted a garden and laying hens. I thought both would be romantic and magical…

Read More

Go Out and Hunt, Mama!

For this blog post, I wanted to go into a little bit of the nuances of hunting. In previous takeovers and posts I have spoken about why we hunt, both from a conservation standpoint and a personal standpoint, but I’ve said very little about how to actually go about hunting!..

Read More

Cooking with Real Pumpkin

I have been a fan of all things pumpkin my whole life. A friend of mine once bought me a shirt that said “you had me at pumpkin spice” and while my husband teased me relentlessly about it, the fact remains: it was true! Whether you are a pumpkin fanatic or you prefer the seasons definitively stay in their own lane… now what it’s October, I think we can agree: it’s time for some fall baking!

Read More

Farm Stories from the Alps // Slowing the Pace

My dear friends, it’s been quite a long time I haven’t been here with you. Life has been hectic during summer (I think you know what I am talking about). Sometimes it feels kind of overwhelming having to manage the farm from Monday to Wednesday and the restaurant Thursday to Sunday. We practically never get a day off….

Read More

Pie Math

There are so many kitchen skills that a Homestead Mama would do well to develop— whether you live in the city or country, on acreage or in an apartment, we talk here all the time about the ways we can put food on our family’s table all year long…

Read More

Making our own Pectin

Canning season is coming to an end here. Autumn is rolling in to our small corner of Scotland and it will be wool socks and frost around here soon. Apples are one of the last things that make an appearance here, with most of our soft fruits coming ripe months earlier. One of my last canning tasks every year is making pectin for next year’s jams and jellies that need the additional help to set…

Read More

Join In The Conversation

Notify of
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments

A Patchwork of Homestead Mamas

An inspiring & encouraging community of Homestead Mamas. For growers, hunters, foragers, & explorers; with little hands & little hearts alongside.

Join Our Community