Canning Tips and Tricks

Years ago I attended a canning class hosted by our county extension office. Our instructor was Dr Barbara Brown, Oklahoma State Food Specialist and featured presenter on OKLAHOMA GARDENING (OETA's popular Gardening television program).

I'd been canning for years, but just boiling water bath canning (BWB). I took this class so I could gain some familiarity with pressure canning before using my new pressure canner on my own, and I knew I'd learn a lot from Dr. Brown.

Since I'd been canning for awhile, I knew a lot of these tips already, but I learned a few new tricks. Perhaps you'll find these tips helpful too.

This post contains affiliate links.  For more information please see my disclosure page

-- Use reliable sources for your recipes, such as:
National Center for Home Food Preservation. This is a HUGE resource.

The Ball Blue Book, and the new book The Complete Book of Home Preserving

USDA's Complete Guide to Home Canning - we were given this printed guide at our class; it is available online in its entirety at the NCHFP site above.

The book So Easy to Preserve, which used to be available online at the NCHFP site, now seems to be in printed form only. To order a copy, click here.

Cooperative Extension Service recipes

-- Half gallon jars should only be used for acid fruit juices (apple and grape, NOT tomato juice)

-- If you water bath for less than 10 minutes, you should sterilize the jars in boiling water for 10 minutes before filling

-- Using a rack is extremely important in both types of canners (BWB and pressure canner); you need water to circulate under the jars during processing. Do not use a towel on the bottom of the canner instead of a rack. You can substitute jar rings, or a cake cooling rack in a water bath canner, or use the rack from your pressure canner in your BWB canner.

-- Do not leave salt out of pickle recipes, it will make your pickles soft. You can omit the salt out of canned vegetables if you wish. Add salt to veggies after filling your jars. Use canning salt or pickling salt; table salt will make your canned goods look cloudy.

-- When you simmer the lids ("flats") in hot water before putting them on your jars, alternate them (one right side up, the next upside down) so they won't nest together.

Homemade apple jelly

-- If you don't have one of those magnetic jar lid thingies to fish your lids out of the pot of simmering water, you can make one with a magnet, a dowel rod, and Gorilla glue.

-- To find your altitude, go to altitude at the National Center for Home Food Preservation. It will take you to a USGA site with topographical maps.

-- To use a pressure cooker as a pressure canner, it must hold at least four quart-size jars. Anything smaller is too small to use as a canner.

-- To use a stockpot or other tall pot as a boiling water bath canner, it must be tall enough for the rack, the jars, and another 1-2" of water over the top of the jars, and then enough space above that so the water doesn't boil over. The pot must also have a lid.

Canning tips you may not know.

-- How to store a pressure canner: Make sure the pot is dry. Add some wadded up newspaper or paper towels to absorb any moisture that's left. Put the lid inside a brown paper bag, then set it upside down on top of the canner. Keep the manual inside the pot.

-- I was measuring headspace incorrectly. Measure from the top of the jar. The point at which the threads begin is 1/4"; the end of the threads is 1/2"; there is a mark/ridge you can feel with your fingernail under the threads that is 1" from the top. No need for a ruler.

What will you can next?

The images below contain affiliate links. For more information please see my disclosure page


Canning tips and tricks I learned from Dr. Barbara Brown, Oklahoma's canning expert.

This post has been shared at some of my favorite blog hops.


My hope is to inspire you, and to encourage your homesteading plans and your dreams of a simple, self-reliant, God-dependent life. You can follow me at:
Facebook | Pinterest | Subscribe via email


  1. Excellent tips! Our garden produced pretty well this year and we got a large variety of things from it. Got one nice crop of tomatoes from it and canned them, then the tomatoes got a fungus and quit producing. I managed to nurse them back enough to have another crop going to be ready soon. I also planted a fall crop of beans that should be ready soon too. Hopefully I'll be doing some canning in a few weeks. Other than that, I haven't canned near as much this year as I have previous years... and my garden turned into a jungle. It's been an odd year for gardening for me.

  2. I'm sorry about your tomatoes but glad your fall garden is doing pretty good. Happy fall canning!

  3. Great canning tips! Thank you for sharing this on the Art of Home-Making Mondays. I will be pinning this :)

  4. Thank you for sharing, Jes. Hope you had a good summer away, but I'm glad you're back.

  5. No matter how long I have been canning I always read canning tips just to refresh my memory. Great list Kathi!

  6. I know what you mean, Tracy. Thank you.

  7. Neat, I never knew there was a 1 inch ridge in there. I used to can all the time. I'd really like to get back to it this fall!

  8. Canning is a rewarding task, isn't it, Jamie? I hope you are able to do some this fall. Buy fruits and veggies if you don't have a garden!

  9. Great tips and very helpful since I will be ready to do some canning soon. Thanks for sharing at My Flagstaff Home!


  10. I hope it was helpful, Jennifer. Thank you for visiting.

  11. Great tips on canning! Perfect for our readers over at the Country Fair Blog Party. Thank you for joining again this month.
    Laurie - Co-Host

  12. Great canning tips! I enjoyed your post so much I highlighted it as one of my blue ribbon winners for the Country Fair Blog Party for October: I hope you link up again this month!

  13. I haven't done any canning yet, but I'm hoping to start this year! Your tips will be super helpful when I go to start.

    1. Thank you, Megan, I do hope they are helpful!

  14. Sometimes the best tips are so obvious after you here them. I love the tip about alternating the flats so they don't stick together!

    1. I thought that was a good one too, Sally!

  15. Those are great tips! I learned a few things and was reminded of others. I hope to make some jelly one day. I still haven't done any pressure canning, but I'd like to try someday.

    1. Michelle, I'm glad you learned something new. Don't let someday pass you by, but also remember than it's never too late to try something new.

  16. These are great tips for newbies to canning like me! Thanks for sharing on the #WasteLessWednesday blog hop!

  17. Hi Kathi,

    Thank you for sharing this information! I've been wanting to learn to can for some time now, and I guess it's probably time for me to just do it! We have 5 huge apple trees on our homestead, and last year it was a shame how many apples went to waste. I need to can!!

    Thanks for sharing with us on the Homestead Blog Hop!


Thank you for stopping by. I hope you will leave a comment - I would love to hear from you. If you wish to email me instead, please click here. Thank you!