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Water bath canning at home is a great way for beginner canners to learn the skills of home food preservation on their homesteading journey.

I first started my home canning journey with this easy homemade strawberry jam recipe, and after I learned the ins and outs of food safety I became confident in trying new canning recipes to start providing my family with home-preserved healthy foods for our everyday life.

What is Water Bath Canning?

Water bath canning is an excellent way of preserving foods that are high in acid, such as fruits (apple butter anyone?!), pickles, and salsa. It involves submerging filled jars in boiling water for a specified amount of time to kill bacteria, remove air, and create a vacuum seal.

Learn how to Make and Water Bath Can Your Own Lemonade Concentrate!

Benefits of Water Bath Canning

Many traditional-skills enthusiasts like myself start learning the principles of canning because it is a fun and safe way to preserve garden produce. Canning provides timeless knowledge to make food shelf stable without risking it going bad before you can eat it.

Learning proper canning techniques allows you to gain the skills of lost knowledge of self-sufficiency and rely less on the grocery store as well as have a piece of mind knowing what exactly is in the food you and your family eat.

  1. Preservation: Canning preserves foods by creating a high-temperature environment that destroys microorganisms, such as bacteria, yeasts, and molds. This process helps extend the shelf life of foods and reduces the risk of spoilage.
  2. Cost-effective: Canning allows you to enjoy fresh, seasonal produce year-round, which can save you money in the long run.
  3. Flavor and Nutrition: Canning preserves the flavor, texture, and nutrients of fresh produce, making it a healthier and tastier option than commercially canned foods that are often loaded with preservatives and additives.

What Can You Preserve with the Water Bath Canning Method?

Water bath canning is perfect for preserving high-acid foods. High-acid foods are items such as fruit spreads, most fruits, pickles, relishes, chutneys, salsas, and tomato products with added acid such as lemon juice or citric acid.

Canning Homemade Strawberry Jam Water Bath Canning at Home

Equipment Needed to Start Water Bath Canning at Home

A quality canning kit is a wonderful addition to your preserving supplies as well as different sizes of jars and lids. Buying quality the first time ensures that your preserved food will be safe and it saves you money in the long run so you don’t have to replace them, they could even be used for future generations.

Check out my post on Quality Kitchenware That Will Last You a Lifetime!

Quality lids play a major role in the success of your home canning. Trusted brands such as Ball, Kerr, and even my new favorite For Jars are perfect for water bath canning at home.

Below is what you need to get started with your water bath canning journey!

  1. Mason jars
  2. Lids and rings
  3. Water bath canning kit

Check out my favorite canning supplies!

Water Bath Canning Kit

An affordable and quality water bath canning kit for beginners!

Safety Practices For Water Bath Canning at Home

Water bath canning is a great way to preserve high-acid foods like fruits, jams, and pickles at home, but it is important to follow proper safety canning practices to prevent the growth of harmful bacteria and ensure that the food remains safe to eat. Here are some safety practices for water bath canning at home:

  1. Start with clean equipment: Make sure all equipment is clean and in good condition, including the jars, lids (jar seals), and utensils. Wash everything in hot, soapy water, rinse well, and then place them in boiling water for 10 minutes to sterilize.
  2. Use the right equipment: Use a large, deep pot with a rack on the bottom to hold the jars off the bottom of the pot. Make sure the pot is large enough to allow at least one inch of water to cover the tops of the jars.
  3. Prepare the food properly: Use fresh, high-quality ingredients and follow a tested recipe from a reliable source. Be sure to follow the recipe’s instructions for preparing the food and packing it into the jars.
  4. Fill the jars properly: For proper use of jars it is recommended that you leave the recommended ample margin space, or headspace (the amount of space between the top of the food and the top of the jar) to allow for expansion during processing. Use a clean, non-metallic utensil to remove any air bubbles from the jar before placing the lid on top.
  5. Process the jars for the recommended time: Process the jars in boiling water for the recommended amount of time, based on the recipe and altitude. Make sure the water remains at a rolling boil throughout the entire processing time.
  6. Handle the jars carefully: Use jar lifters to remove the jars from the hot water and place them on a towel or cooling rack to cool. Do not tilt or move the jars until they are completely cool and the seal has formed.
  7. Check the seals and remove the ring: After the jars have cooled, check the seals by pressing down on the center of the lid and remove the ring. If it does not move or make a popping sound, the seal is good. If the lid pops up and down, the jar did not seal properly and the food should be refrigerated or reprocessed.

By following these safety practices, you can ensure that your water bath canned food is safe and delicious to eat.

Water Bath Canning at Home

Is Pressure Canning The Same as Water Bath Canning?

Water bath canning and pressure canning are two different methods of traditional food preservation. While both methods involve canning food in jars, they are not interchangeable and are used for different types of foods.

Water Bath Canning

Water bath canning is a process of preserving specific foods like high-acid foods, such as fruit products, pickling vegetables, and jams, by immersing the jars in boiling water. This method relies on the natural acidity of the food to kill off any harmful bacteria, and the heat from boiling water to create a vacuum seal that keeps the food fresh.

Pressure Canning

Pressure canning, on the other hand, is used for low-acid foods, such as vegetables, canning meats such as red meats, and fish, which require a higher temperature to kill off any harmful bacteria. This method involves processing the jars in a specialized pressure canner, which raises the temperature above the boiling point of water and creates a high-pressure environment that ensures the food is safely preserved.

Where Do You Find Recipes For Water Bath Canning?

There are many series of canning guides and recipes to choose from for water bath canning. My favorite canning recipe book is The All New Ball Book of Canning.

It is important to follow the step-by-step directions of your trusted recipe without adding any recipe alterations. Failure to follow directions could jeopardize the safety of the product and increase the risk of botulism.

What is Botulism?

Botulism is a rare but serious illness caused by a toxin that attacks the body’s nerves. The toxin is created by Clostridium botulinum bacteria. Improperly canned, preserved, or fermented foods can provide the right conditions for the bacteria to make the toxin.

You cannot see, smell, or taste the toxin, but taking even a small taste of food containing it can be deadly. Please read the original source by the CDC for more information on Botulism.

Once you have the basic building blocks of water bath canning, you will build the skills and confidence to preserve the harvest of your canning garden and provide your family with quality food to enjoy all year long.

Special Notes: Visit the U.S. Department of Agriculture for the USDA complete guide to home canning.

Water Bath Canning Recipes

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Complete Guide to Water Bath Canning at Home



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A community for those looking to take things slower in life. We discuss and share things like gardening, preserving (canning, freezing, dehydrating), homemaking, and homesteading.