Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Processing Canning Jars with the Water Bath Method

Right now I am alternating between recipes (for readers who have experience canning) and basic instructions (for anybody who is new to canning). My next recipe will be pickled asparagus. Then I will move on to recipes focusing on rhubarb and strawberries.

Water Bath Method

As mentioned in my first food safety post, the Water Bath method of processing canning jars should only be used for high acid foods such as fruits, pickles, and Jams. In this post I go into a step by step description of this processing method.

Supplies you will need

  1. Water bath Canner: this is a large granite pot with a canning rack that is used for lowering the canning jars into the hot water.
  2. Canning jars: always examine the jars to be sure that there are no nicks in the rim
  3. Two piece lids
  4. Two sauce pots: one of them must be large enough to cover your canning jars with water.
  5. Tongs
  6. Canning funnel and a ladle
  7. Plastic spatula
  8. Dishtowel and a clean cloth
  9. Jar lifter
  10. Timer
  11. Whatever supplies you need for the recipe you are preparing

If you are new to canning, you can buy a Canning Kit rather than buying each piece separately.


  1. Fill canner 1/2 full of hot water. Put the rack in the elevated position (it hangs over the edge of the canner). Put the lid on the canner and place it on the burner and heat to simmering. It takes awhile for this much water to heat up.
  2. Meanwhile place clean canning jars in the large sauce pot and cover with hot water. Place the lids in a separate sauce pot and cover them with hot water. Heat these to simmering (don't actually boil). An optional piece of equipment that can make this easier is a lid sterilizing rack. It keeps all of the lids separated. It is one of those contraptions that once I tried it, I wondered how I ever got along without it.
  3. While all of this is heating, prepare your food according to the recipe.
Filling the jars
  1. Use either the tongs or the jar lifter to remove a canning jar from the hot water and sit it on a dish towel.
  2. Use the canning funnel and a ladle to fill the jar with food, leaving the appropriate amount of headspace.
  3. Run the plastic spatula around the edge of the jar a couple of times to remove any air bubbles.
  4. Run a clean damp cloth around the rim of the jar to remove any food that may interfere with sealing.
  5. Place the lid on the jar. I use tongs to remove the lids from the hot water, but some people like to use a magnetic wand.
  6. Screw the band on just until resistance is felt. Remember that air needs to escapes during processing.
  7. Use the jar lifter to place the canning jar in the elevated canning rack.
  8. Repeat these steps until all jars are filled.
  1. Lower the canning rack into the water. Be sure that the water completely covers the canning jars. If it doesn't, you can add the water that was used to heat the jars and lids. Put the lid on the canner and heat the water to boiling.
  2. When the water comes to a full boil, start the timer and process for the time specified in the recipe.
  3. Turn off the heat and use the jar lifter to remove the jars. Place them on a dishtowel to cool. Leave an inch or so of air space between the jars.
  4. After the jars have cooled for 12 to 24 hours, check the seals by pressing in the center of the lid. The safety button in the lid should not flex if the lid is sealed properly. If by chance you do come across a jar that is not sealed, place it in the refrigerator to be consumed within the next few days.


  1. That's it. I am going to try my hand at canning this year. Thank you so much for all the great tips.

  2. You are welcome. I am pleased to see that my blog is actually helpful to people. In just a short time, I have gone from not really understanding much about blogging, to being a blogging addict.

  3. Thank you so much for stopping by my blog and commenting. My husband and I were talking recently about canning and I want to learn how. Thanks for your how to's. I'm off to go look at the canning kit!

  4. Nice blog. I've never tried canning before. I think I'm just waiting for the proper ingredient worth to be canned.

  5. Thank you for stopping by my blog. I have never tried canning before. Do you have a farm or something? I was just wondering if you had to buy your fruit (like at a farmer's market) or if you grew your own.

    I am going to mark your site in case I ever decide to try my hand at canning!

  6. I grew up on a farm with a very large garden. Today I do a combination of growing my own, and buying some of it.

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  8. So the bottom of one of my jars just completely broke after I placed it into the hot water bath and the contains spilled into the water bath. Did I tighten the jar to much? is it possible the jar has een used to much?

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