How to Use Water Bath Canners

This is a Ball 21-Qt Water Bath Canner, which comes with the jar rack and the Ball Utensils set.  You can buy all of this as a complete set at Wal Mart for about $50 and elsewhere for more; but I got a great deal on this as 2 separate purchases for $35.  The Canner and rack were about $25 at KMart and the Utensil set was $10.  I also had a coupon for $10 off; therefore, I felt as though I got my canning equipment for less than half price.

Water Bath Canning is not the same as pressure canning.  That scares me a bit; but all types of tomato conserves, pickles, jelly, fruits, etc., can be made with only the Water Bath Canner.  I’ll be adding all of the recipes that seem particularly appealing to me; and I’ll also share the info that I find to teach me how to use this almost antiquated contraption.

The Ball website has some recipes.  At a thrift store, I found a copy of Garderners’ Community Cookbook by Smith & Hawken; and there is a lot of quality info in that book for me to share:

“Canning pots are readily available in hardware stores and supermarkets, but you can also use any other large pot as long as it has a tight-fitting lid and a rack to set the jars upon so that they are held off the bottom of the pot.  It must be deep enough to hold water to cover the jars by at least 1 inch.

“When the jars are filled and capped and ready for processing, bring the water in the canning pot to a simmer.   Place the jars on the rack and lower it into the pot.  Make sure the jars are covered with water by at least one inch.  Bring the water to a boil.  Count the processing time as given in each recipe from the time the water comes to a boil, not from the time you put the jars in the pot….

“When the processing time is up, lift the jars out of the water bath, preferably with a jar lifter tool for ease and safety.

Set the jars on a dish towel and leave to cool for twelve hours.  Don’t be concerned  if you hear an occasional snap; it’s the sound of a lid sealing.

“When the jars are cool, test the seal of each by pressing on the center of the lid.  Any lids that spring back rather than remaining concave have not been properly sealed.  These jars should be stored in the refrigerator and used before the others,  The others you can store in a cool, ark place for up to one year.” Smith & Hawken p. 315

“Do put a keen eye to the jars and caps you are using for canning.  Cracked or nicked jars should not be used.  Dented screw-band lids should not be used.  Either of those conditions will result in a jar of preserves you will have to toss….

“Heatproof glass jars designed for home canning are essential.

The lids must be sealable, which means the two-part screw-on kind.

“Both jars and lids must be washed in hot, soapy water, then rinsed in hot water.  … The lids, after rinsing must be placed in a pot water, brought to a boil, and set aside in the water until ready to use.

“Use only the size jars described in the recipes.  Larger jars won’t be properly processed.  Smaller jars may be overprocessed. …

“Fill to 1/2 inch of the top.  This so-called head-space room is to allow for expansion during the water-bath processing….” p. 314


About jackikellum

Jacki Kellum is a Fine Artist, a Designer, and also a writer. For one of her graduate programs, she wrote her thesis on William Blake. Like Blake, much of Kellum's work is about childhood and lost innocence. Also like Blake, Kellum strives to both write and illustrate her work. .
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