Pressure Canning Gear 101: All of the Can-Do Gear You Need

Canning can be a great way to preserve seasonal vegetables and fruits, but you got to have the right gear (such as our tested-and-recommended pressure canner).

various canning products on a kitchen countertop
Serious Eats / Donna Currie

Canning is the perfect way to preserve the bounty of the growing season, whether from a home garden or the farmers market. While many foods can be preserved by freezing, that food is at risk from, say, a power outage or eventual freezer burn. Home canned goods can last for at least a year before quality begins to degrade (they should be used within two). And they’re convenient to have on hand since they don’t need to be thawed—just heat and eat.

While water bath canning is popular for pickles and other acidic foods, pressure canning opens up a whole new world of things that can be preserved, including meats. It does, however, have some special requirements—including the necessary gear.

The Basic Gear You’ll Need for Pressure Canning

While pressure canning may seem intimidating, it’s actually not that complicated. And, aside from a pressure canner, the equipment is inexpensive and easy to find. Many grocery stores even carry the essentials, and more can be found online.

A Pressure Canner

We tested pressure canners, and the All American canner came out on top. It comes in a wide variety of sizes, perfect for any home canner (though our suggestion is the 10.5-quart). It features both a dial and a weighted gauge, for checking pressure progress. Of course, it’s also expensive, which is why we also recommend the one from Presto. It’s 16 quarts and we suggest opting for the model with a weighted gauge.

All-American Pressure Canner on a white kitchen countertop
Serious Eats / Donna Currie

Canning Jars

Jars are required, of course, and they must be jars that are designed for canning. When purchasing new jars, lids and rings are usually included. Ball jars are the most common and the ones we consider reliable. Jars come in a variety of sizes and with regular or wide-mouth openings. It’s important to check the recipe to make sure the jars are the correct size, for safe canning.

Extra Lids or Lids with Rings

While canning rings can be re-used as long as they’re not bent or rusted, the lids are considered a one-use item. That’s why we recommend having plenty of extra lids, along with extra bands, in case your harvest is larger than expected and your lid supply runs low.

jars of tomato sauce in a pressure canner on the stovetop
Serious Eats / Donna Currie

Reusable Lids, If You So Choose

While Ball lids are not reusable, the Tattler company makes reusable lids. With these, some users find the failure rate is higher, but the fact that they’re reusable makes them appealing to many canners.

A Canning Kit with Lotsa Basics

Canning kits are available that include basic tools, like a funnel, jar lifter, lid lifter, and a tool for measuring headspace and de-bubbling the jars. Some kits have things like jar openers or tongs that can be useful for removing rings from hot water, but aren’t essential. A kit is a good way to get started, before upgrading to individual pieces that have extra features or are more substantial.

Nice-to-Have Pressure Canning Items

A Canning Funnel

While canning kits include the basics, pieces can be purchased individually, sometimes with added benefits. The Prepworks canning funnel fits into canning jars just like others, but it also has a shroud that covers the jar threads, keeping them extra-clean when filling. It also has measurements for headspace, although that should be double-checked once the jar has been de-bubbled. Some cooks might also prefer a collapsible funnel for more compact storage.

A De-Bubbling and Measuring Tool

The de-bubbling and measuring tool is a simple piece of plastic that is slid along the inside of the jar to remove clinging bubbles so liquid can be added to the correct level. The measuring end has notches that record exactly how much space is in the jar above the liquid. De-bubblers are often sold along with lid lifters, or in multiples (this can be handy when several people are working together on a canning project).

A Lid Lifter

The lid lifter is designed for removing hot canning lids and rings from the boiling water used to sterilize them. They can be a simple magnet on a stick, but the Prepworks lifter has a ring on the end, making it a bit easier to hold.

A Jar Lifter

A jar-lifting tool helps get hot jars out of the canner. The lifting tool looks somewhat like very large tongs, but the grasping ends are shaped to fit around the jar’s neck, so the jars can be safely lifted out of the hot water without breaking the seals or tipping them. We're including this in this section, as many canning kits will include a jar lifter. For an upgrade, the Ball Secure-Grip provides a firm hold on jars but may be pricey for casual canners. We also like Norpro Jar Lifter.

a jar of tomatoes getting lowered into a pressure canner
Serious Eats / Donna Currie

A Stockpot

One thing that shouldn’t be ignored is how the food will be cooked before canning. Unless it’s just a small batch of garden vegetables, it’s wise to have a sufficiently large stockpot to hold everything. A 16-quart pot has plenty of space for large batches (and can come in handy for lots of other kitchen tasks, like stock and boiling corn or lobster).

Other Helpful Canning Information

a jar of beans being lowered into an All-American brand pressure canner
Serious Eats / Donna Currie

The greatest risk when canning foods at home is botulism. Unlike mold that can be seen, or spoilage that your nose will alert you to, botulism is invisible. It has no scent or taste and can be deadly. Because of that, it’s important to follow canning guides precisely, from the choice of jars to proper storage after canning.

The gold standard for canning information is the National Center for Home Food Preservation, usually referred to as the NCHFP. Anything found on the NCHFP website ( is researched and tested, from methods to recipes. Ball, the company that has been making canning jars since 1884, is also a great source for information and recipes ( Besides the website, Ball publishes canning books regularly, with new recipes and updated safety information. The US Department of Agriculture also has canning information.

While it seems tempting to browse through old canning books, our knowledge about pathogens and safe canning practices has progressed rapidly, making old recipes less reliable.


How do you sterilize canning jars?

This is one of the techniques that has changed over time, so it’s important to read current instructions and follow them. Depending on the type of canning, it may be sufficient to wash the jars in the dishwasher. For hot-pack canning, jars are typically boiled in the canner then removed one-by-one for filling. Lid technology has changed as well. Where boiling was required in the past, some lids no longer require it. Canning jars should not be heated or sterilized in the oven.

What is canning salt?

Canning salt is, well, simply salt. It does not include anti-caking ingredients or iodine, which can make the liquid cloudy or darken the food (neither of which you want for your vibrant canned goods). While canning salt can certainly be sprinkled on your avocado toast, it’s best to avoid using other salts in canning.

Can you reuse canning lids?

Aside from Tattler lids, canning lids should not be reused for canning. The sealing material on the lid gets soft when hot and harder when cooled, conforming to the jar—so it’s not made to fit onto another jar. Also, prying the lid off a jar will likely warp it, so it won't lie flat on the next jar and would result in a bad seal if reused. If they’re not rusted or damaged, though, the lids can be used for dry storage, like with cereal or rice. The rings can be re-used for canning as long as they aren’t rusty or bent.

Should lids be left on canned foods?

About 24 hours after canning, the rings should be removed, and the lids should be inspected to make sure they have popped down in the center. Then, the seal should be tested by lifting the jar by the lid or pulling up gently along the edges. If it doesn’t hold, the food should be refrigerated and used quickly or it can be re-canned with a new lid. After verifying the seal, the jars should be washed and dried and then stored in a cool, dry place. The lids can be loosely replaced, but they should not be tightened, as that can break the seal.