Water Bath Canning: A Step-by-Step Guide

Water Bath Canning: A Step-by-Step Guide

Water Bath Canning: Step by Step Guide to Getting Started


Canning is a crucial skill for any prepper or survivalist. It allows you to preserve food for long periods, ensuring you have a stable food supply even during emergencies. One of the most popular canning methods is water bath canning, which is excellent for high-acid foods like fruits, pickles, and some tomato-based recipes. In this step-by-step guide, we will walk you through the process of water bath canning and provide you with some useful tips along the way.

Step 1: Gather Your Equipment

Before you start water bath canning, make sure you have all the necessary equipment on hand. Here’s what you’ll need:

Water bath canner: A large, deep pot with a lid and a rack to hold the jars off the bottom.

Jars: Use glass jars specifically designed for canning. Make sure they are free of cracks, chips, or any damage.

Lids and bands: Ensure you have new lids and bands for each canning session. Used lids may not seal properly.

Canning tools: A jar lifter, a funnel, and a lid lifter are essential for safe and easy handling of hot jars. You can find these tools in most kitchen supply stores.

Ingredients: Depending on the recipe you choose, gather all the necessary ingredients for canning. Whether it’s peaches, pickles, or salsa, make sure you have everything ready before you begin.

Clean towels: You’ll need clean towels for wiping the jar rims and cleaning up any spills or messes during the canning process.

Step 2: Prepare Your Jars and Lids

Wash your jars, lids, and bands with hot, soapy water, ensuring they are clean and free from any debris. Inspect the jars for any cracks, chips, or defects. Even a small chip can prevent the jar from sealing correctly. Heat the lids in a small saucepan of water over low heat to soften the sealing compound. Avoid boiling the lids as that may damage the seal.

Step 3: Prepare the Recipe

Choose your recipe and prepare the food according to the instructions. Whether it’s blanching peaches, slicing cucumbers, or cooking a tomato-based sauce, make sure you follow the recipe correctly. Proper preparation is crucial for achieving safe and tasty results.

Step 4: Fill the Jars

Using a funnel, carefully ladle the prepared food into the jars, leaving the recommended headspace at the top. Headspace is the space between the food and the jar’s rim. It allows for expansion during processing and ensures proper sealing. The amount of headspace required may vary depending on the recipe, so be sure to refer to the specific guidelines.

Step 5: Remove Air Bubbles and Wipe Jar Rims

After filling the jars, run a plastic or silicone spatula along the inside edges to remove any air bubbles trapped between the food. Air bubbles can interfere with the sealing process. Next, use a clean, damp cloth to wipe the jar rims, removing any food residue or stickiness. A clean rim is essential for achieving a proper and secure seal.

Step 6: Apply Lids and Bands

Using a lid lifter, carefully remove a lid from the saucepan, ensuring it’s hot and softened. Place it on top of the jar, centering it over the rim. Then, screw on the band until it’s fingertip tight. Avoid overtightening the band, as it could prevent air bubbles from escaping during processing.

Step 7: Process in the Water Bath Canner

Fill the water bath canner with enough water to cover the jars by at least one inch. Place the jars onto the canning rack, ensuring they are not touching each other or the sides of the canner. Cover the canner with the lid and bring the water to a rolling boil. Start the processing time once the water reaches a full boil.


– A canning rack or a folded towel at the bottom of the canner prevents direct contact between the jars and the pot, reducing the risk of jar breakage.
– Make sure to adjust the processing time for your altitude. Higher altitudes require longer processing times to compensate for lower boiling temperatures.
– Allow for extra processing time if using larger jars or if your recipe instructions specify.
– Start the processing time only after the water has reached a rolling boil. This ensures that the contents of the jars are heated evenly.

Step 8: Remove Jars from the Canner

Once the processing time is complete, turn off the heat and carefully remove the jars from the canner using a jar lifter. Place the jars on a clean towel or a cooling rack, leaving enough space between them to allow for air circulation. Avoid placing hot jars directly on a cold surface, as this may cause the jars to crack.

Step 9: Allow Jars to Cool and Seal

As the jars cool, you may hear a “ping” sound, which indicates successful sealing. Leave the jars undisturbed for 12 to 24 hours to cool and settle. Avoid tightening the bands during this time, as it may interfere with the sealing process. After the cooling period, check the seal by pressing down on the center of each lid. If the lid is firm and does not flex or make a popping sound, it is properly sealed. If any jar has not sealed correctly, refrigerate and consume its contents promptly.

My 2 Cents

Water bath canning is a simple and enjoyable way to preserve your favorite high-acid foods. By following these steps, you can ensure that your canned goods are safe, flavorful, and ready to be stored for an extended period. Remember to always follow approved canning recipes and guidelines to guarantee the best results. So go ahead and start water bath canning – your future self will thank you for it!