All the things.
The following general kitchen tools are ones we'll be using throughout the class. The only one that you may not already have is a scale. This is a very important tool for this class, so I recommend investing in one*. I'll follow this list with lesson specific tool and supply lists.
I've provided purchase links for all the items that are either exactly the same as the ones I use, or the closest thing available to the more senior items I use that are no longer available new, like my white enamel pots and vintage jar lifter.
A Note on Kitchen Scales
The most accurate way to prepare the correct amount of ingredients for the desired number of jars, is to use either a manual or digital kitchen scale. Both work well. The only disadvantage to having a digital scale is that if you zero out your scale for a bowl you'll be loading up, then cut up your ingredients and start loading up the bowl, the digital scale can just turn off, erasing all memory of the bowl's tare weight. This means you have to weigh the bowl and write down its tare weight so you can subtract it form the total weight. Not a big deal, but math. With the manual scale, once you zero out the weight of the bowl, it's there until you manually adjust it for the next thing.
*Pro tip: You can also use the scale in audreyobscura's Bread class!
The list of specialty tools for boiling water bath canning is wonderfully short. Which means that there's a very low barrier to entry, both in cost and time invested to track down what you need to get started.
NOTE: All purchase links for this list are below in the descriptions.
Deep Canning Pot
I recommend choosing the size you buy based on how many people are in your household and the kinds of things you'd like to can.
Because there are only two of us at home, the largest canning jars I use are the pint sized ones, because I'm confident that once opened, we'll eat that amount before it goes bad in the fridge. If you have more mouths to feed, then you will want to consider using the quart sizes for recipes that accommodate that.
If you only want to invest in ONE pot to get started, I recommend going with the 10-quart, as it will cover most of your beginner canning needs without taking up too much cupboard space.
The only important thing to remember is that whatever pot you choose, it MUST BE big enough to allow for 1-2" of water above the jars you're using in order to properly, and more importantly SAFELY, can.
Round Jar Rack
Adding a round rack to the bottom of your canning pot (to raise the jars up off the bottom of the pot) is necessary to prevent the jars from cracking. You don't have to buy an official one (some canners I know use 7 lid rims tied together with baker's twine), it just has to be something that is approximately the size of the pot bottom and will elevate the jars without floating to the surface and getting in the way of the canning process.
There are many different sizes and shapes of canning jars. There are both wide mouth jars and regular - the regular having a 'shoulder' on the jar where it goes in to meet the smaller lid. This can be helpful for avoiding 'float' in which the canned food floats up and out of the canning liquid. (This isn't harmful, but it can cause the exposed fruits or vegetables to dry out and/or discolor.)
Choose your jars based on the serving sizes that you want or need for your family size. If the recipes I provide in this class don't align with the amounts you want to make, a quick check on the internet will help you find the correct info (size and number of jars along with canning times) for making a bigger batch.
A note on lids: The flat sealer lids are meant for one time use only. Never reuse these. Always use brand-new and clean lids every time. The rings may be reused without issue.
Magnetic Lid Lifter, Jar Lifter & Canning Funnel
These little specialized canning tools are inexpensive and SO USEFUL! Definitely worth getting to make your first time canning a pleasant, tidy, and pain-free experience. (Remember, this is called BOILING water bath canning.) :)
The magnetic lid lifter is used to pick up the metal sealing lids out of warm water and place on the jars. This hands-free exchange prevents potential contamination and saves your fingers from having to take a dip in hot water.
The jar lifter, in my opinion, is essential. It's used to put in and remove the jars from the boiling water bath. Its shape is designed to fit to the contour of the jars, and therefore, safely move them without risk of dropping them back into the hot water which could splash on you or your hands. That's some pretty inexpensive safety!
The canning funnel sits comfortably in the opening of all jar sizes and helps tidily corral whatever you're canning into the jars. Less mess is best!
Digital pH Meter
If you plan on only following recipes when canning, then you will never need this tool. But if you are an inventor at heart and want to come up with your own recipes to can, you will need a good pH meter in order to know whether or not your creations are acidic enough (below 4.6 pH) to be boiling water bath canned.
Note: We will be canning one of the recipes, so you will also be using the specialty tools from the canning lesson.
*You can substitute these small, jar sized cucumbers for pretty much any vegetable! Carrots, green beans, cauliflower, and asparagus are all delicious options, to name a few.
**Grape leaves are sold in jars packed in water or oil. I found mine at Whole Foods, but any Mediterranean market will also carry them. They are optional - they help keep the pickles crunchy - so don't worry if you can't find them!
Like the Pickling specialty tool list, this one is super short! :)
*The chlorine in unfiltered tap water can kill the good 'lacto' bacteria, inhibiting proper fermentation. To de-chlorinate tap water, leave the amount you need out on the counter (uncovered) overnight and the chlorine will evaporate. If you forget to do this ahead of time, use filtered water or run out and buy distilled water.
*Please read the section 'Using a Dehydrator' in Lesson 7.
**These are used for a little system I made to get my leather to be a uniform thickness. Check it out in the fruit leather step! Similar wood strips are available at art supply or hardware stores.
Share a photo of your finished project with the class!
Nice work! You've completed the class project