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5 Essential Steps To Take Before Canning

5 Essential Things to do before Canning

Preparing for Canning Season:

Spring is here and the farmer’s markets are starting to get exciting!  No matter where you live or what stage of spring you are looking at, NOW is a good time to prepare for the upcoming canning season.

If you take the time now to look over your inventory, gather your supplies and plan just a bit for the canning season, you will be so thankful when in a few short weeks you find yourself up to your eyeballs in produce with no time to race around!

Below I’ve listed my Canning Season Checklist that I use for teaching. Each section gives you a comprehensive list of questions to help you get ready. You can use it right off this post OR if you are a “pencil & paper” gal (or guy), you can download a FREE PDF version of this list so you can check them off as you go.

I hope you find this helpful and happy canning!

Step One – Analyze Last Year’s Pantry

Take a moment to think through what you canned last year and how much you loved it (or hated it). This will help you in planning what to put up this year. Do more of what you loved (or needed) and less of the items you ended up not using.

  • What is still on your shelf now…unopened?
  • Was there anything you had way too much of?
  • Was there anything you wish you had more of?
  • A good guide is to think back to when you opened the last jar of something – Did you weep or were you thankful to get rid of it?
  • What new things do you want to try this next year? New recipes? New techniques?

Step Two – Take Inventory

A Canner's Checklist

As you look at your container inventory, remember that lids and rubber gaskets need to be new for each canning batch (unless you are using Tattler Lids).

A Canner's Checklist

  • Do you currently have all the jars you will need for the season?
  • Are all the rims of the jars free from chips?
  • Are the jars free from scratches and cracks?
  • Do you have enough new lids to go with those jars?
  • Do you need to order more Tattler lids (if you use them)?
  • Do you need more rubber gaskets (for Weck jars)?

Step Three – Check Supplies

A Canner's Checklist

Do you have enough of the following items on hand:

  • Organic sugar?
  • Pectin?
  • Clear gel? (For Pie Fillings)
  • Citric Acid? (To acidify tomatoes)
  • Ascorbic Acid? (To prevent discoloration)
  • Any other spices or canning products you like to use?

Step Four – Gather Tools

  • Did all of your equipment work well last year?
  • Does anything need to be replaced?
  • Are you saving up for anything special (like a pressure canner)?
  • Did you have the gauge checked on your pressure canner (if you use one)?
  • Do you know where all of your equipment is or do you need to track it down?

A Canner's Checklist

Depending upon your recipe, you may need any of the following for water bath canning:

  • Canner or stock pot (For water bath canning)
  • Rack to hold jars up in canner
  • Pressure Canner (For pressure canning)
  • Jar lifter
  • Canning funnel
  • Lid Magnet
  • Spatula
  • Apple peeler/corer
  • Various measuring cups, spoons & knives
  • Pot holders
  • Labels
  • Cheesecloth
  • Jelly bag
  • Thermometer (for marmalade and no-pectin jams)

 Step Five – Start Dreaming

  • Do you have any recipes tagged in cookbooks?
  • Are there any new canning books you want to check out?
  • Do you remember where you pinned those recipes on Pinterest?
  • Is there any new produce you wanted to try? Start a list!

So that should help prep you before you really dive into the canning season. I’m doing the same on my end.

Leave a comment if you think of any other things we should do before the season starts!

Click here if you would like to download a FREE PDF (printable) copy of this Canner’s Checklist.


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About the Author:

Theresa Loe is the founder of Living Homegrown® and the Canning Academy®. For 9 years, Theresa was the Co-Executive Producer & Canning Expert on the national PBS gardening series, Growing A Greener World®. Theresa homesteads on just 1/10th of an acre in Los Angeles with her husband, two sons and several disorderly but totally adorable chickens. Learn more about Living Homegrown here and about the Canning Academy here.