Preserving your own fruits, vegetables, meats, and other foods allows you to eat wholesome, nutritious foods all year long. However, safely canning, freezing, dehydrating, and fermenting foods requires having the right equipment on hand. Investing in quality preservation tools and supplies will ensure you can create delicious and safely preserved foods for your family to enjoy.
Equipment for Canning
Canning is a popular method for preserving foods using heat processing to destroy harmful bacteria and microorganisms in jarred foods. Here is some essential canning equipment you’ll need:
Canning Pot and Rack
A dedicated canning pot with a lifting rack inside makes it easy to submerge and remove jars in boiling water. Choose 21-30 quart aluminum or stainless steel pots with handy handles.
Jars and Lids
Mason jars in both regular and wide mouth sizes allow you to can fruits, vegetables, sauces, soups, and more. Match them with new, unused canning lids and metal bands to create a vacuum seal.
This specialized lifting tool with angled arms and rubberized grips provides a secure hold on hot jars when transferring them in and out of boiling water bath canners or pressure canners.
A plastic bubble remover tool lets you release air bubbles trapped against the sides of filled jars to optimize vacuum sealing. Smooth the food and headspace.
For mess-free canning, a spring-handled liquid filler fits inside jars to deposit hot juices, broths, or water evenly. The valve stem prevents spills.
A wide-mouthed canning funnel fits into jar openings neatly. Its rim keeps food contained while you ladle in ingredients. Choose stainless models.
Magnetic lid lifters safely lift lids out of boiling water for filling jars. Magnets keep lids contained and the handles protect fingers from steam.
Have plenty of clean towels on hand to wipe rims of filled jars and set cooling jars on. Dedicate towels just for canning use.
Equipment for Pressure Canning
Pressure canning allows you to safely preserve lower acid foods like meats, seafood, and vegetables that can harbor harmful bacteria. Here’s what you’ll need:
Pressure canners use steam pressure to achieve temperatures above boiling needed to make low acid foods safe. Models with gauges indicate pressure levels.
This vent or weighted gauge controls steam release. Newer dial gauge models have automatic vents you don’t need to monitor.
A rack should elevate jars off the bottom of the canner so steam circulates fully. Many new canners come with racks.
Use tongs to grip and transfer hot jars in and out of the pressurized canner safely. Protect hands and fingers.
Heatproof mitts allow you to handle extremely hot components like lids and locking mechanisms on canners safely when pressure canning.
A good timer is essential to track your processing times. Choose digital timers so you can track up to 60 minutes accurately.
Equipment for Freezing Foods
Freezing is a fast, simple way to preserve foods using very cold temperatures. Here is some handy equipment:
Choose freezer safe plastic containers in sizes to match your foods, from produce bags to large durable containers for soups, sauces, and meats.
Freezer tape adheres firmly to freezing surfaces. Label containers with contents and dates.
Vacuum Sealer System
Vacuum sealing systems remove air from pouches to prevent freezer burn. They extend frozen food storage life substantially.
Food Saver Bags
Use special vacuum sealing bags designed to remove air and seal tightly to protect foods. Choose gallon and quart bags.
Freezer paper provides a moisture barrier between paper and food surfaces. Pre-cut sheets availabile to wrap meats.
Place a freezer thermometer inside your freezer to monitor optimal temperature is being maintained between 0oF and -10oF.
Supplies for Dehydrating Foods
Dehydrating uses low, consistent heat to draw moisture out of foods. Here is some handy equipment:
A food dehydrator with multiple stackable trays and adjustable thermostat allows you to control temperature and airflow for optimal drying.
Fruit Roll Sheets
Flexible fruit roll sheets make drying puréed foods, sauces, and fruit leathers easy. They roll up neatly for storage after drying.
Mesh screening sheets set in dehydrator trays allow good airflow around small foods like herbs as they dry.
Use a probe-style digital thermometer to check internal temperatures of meats as they dry to ensure foods reach safe levels.
Wood or stainless steel drying racks provide extra space for drying foods in ovens or sun when dehydrator space is limited.
Cheesecloth covers drying food but allows air circulation. Use it to prevent insects on foods dried outdoors.
Supplies for Fermenting Foods
Fermenting uses natural bacteria to transform foods like vegetables, dairy, and meats. Here is some useful equipment:
A crock pot or earthenware fermentation vessel keeps foods submerged under liquid during the fermentation process in an oxygen-free environment.
Pickle weights are specially shaped to keep vegetable pieces fully submerged under brine in crocks as they ferment. Choose glass or ceramic.
An airlock lid fits on fermentation vessels to let gases escape while keeping air out. This prevents mold growth.
Cheesecloth covers fermenting foods, allowing gases to vent while keeping insects and contaminants out of the vessel.
Digital Kitchen Scale
A small but accurate digital kitchen scale allows you to weigh batches precisely for perfect ratios of salt, water, or starter culture to food.
Investing in quality food preservation equipment helps ensure your home canned, frozen, dehydrated, and fermented foods retain nutrients, flavors, and textures properly. Follow manufacturer instructions and guidelines for getting the most from your food preservation tools and appliances. They’ll provide tasty returns for many seasons to come! Let me know if you need any other tips on equipping your kitchen for home food preservation success.