"Hot Water Bath" Canning - the Basics

About: I'm the father of 3 great girls, a drummer and a super proud Hufflepuff. I'm also a habitual crafter and tinkerer.

Canning is a huge part of my summer. I always keep a mid sized garden (60-80 plants), growing mostly tomatoes, hot/mild peppers, and herbs, with a few other things thrown in for fun. This means, from about the middle of summer forward, every few weeks, I'm canning something.

It's a skill I picked up from my wife's mom and grandma (whose pot I am honored to currently use) and one that I really enjoy. So, the other night when, I was working on a small batch of my "Hellish" hot pepper relish and a small batch of pickled tomatoes I thought, "why not share, what they shared".

I hope you enjoy!

Step 1: Tools of the Trade...

For "Hot Water Bath" canning, you need a few basic things.

1. A Large Canning Pot w/ a Rack

2. Mason Jars with Rings and Lids

3. A Basic Set of Canning Tools -

  • Wide-Mouth Canning Funnel
  • Jar Lifter
  • Magnetic Lid Lifter
  • Bubble Remover/Headspace Tool.

* If you don't have a canning pot with a rack, you can use any large pot with canning rings placed hole side up in the bottom of the pot to act as the rack. Just be sure you have at least a 1-2 inches of water over the top of the jars.

Step 2: Getting Started...

Ok...Lets get can canning!

First, wash the jars and lids thoroughly with soap and water. Next place each of the jars into the rack, in the bottom of your canning pot.

Fill the pot, 2" over the top of the jars, with water. Put the lid on the canning pot and over high heat bring the water to a rapid boil.

* It normally takes about an hour to get mine to a rolling boil. During this time, I prep what I'm canning and gather anything else I may need.

Step 3: Lids and Rings

Once the water in the canning pot has started to boil, place the washed rings and lids in a small/medium size pot and over high heat bring to a boil. Reduce and let simmer, until needed.

Step 4: Removing, Filling, and Toping

Once ready, pull the jars from the hot water bath using the "Jar Lifters" and using the "Wide Mouth Canning Funnel", fill each of the jars with your contents of choice (being sure to leave at least 1/2" of headspace).

Now, using the bubble removing tool, gentle insert it into the jar and it move it around to remove any air bubbles.

Wipe any spills or excess from the rim of the jars (to ensure a good seal). Then using the "Magnetic Lid Lifter" remove the lids and rings from the simmering water and apply to the jar. Finally, tighten until secure.

* To make up for evaporation, pour the water from the jars, back into the pot when you remove them.

** Be sure to put the lid back on the canning pot, to hold in the heat, once you've removed the jars to fill them.

*** Non-acidic foods (which include vegetables that are not pickled, soup stocks including vegetable stocks, and all animal products) must be processed in a pressure canner, not a boiling water bath, unless being canned using vinegar which adds an acidic pH.

**** Pictured: Hot pepper relish and pickling brine.

Step 5: A Nice Hot Bath...

Using the "Jar Lifters" place the jars back into the boiling water and replace the lid to the canning pot.

From this point forward, you will need to follow the directions included with the recipe the you are canning, as the amount of time you will need to leave the jars in the hot water bath may vary.

For most of my pickling recipes, I leave them in for 15 minutes. Then I remove the jars allow them to cool on the counter over night, to seal (12-24 hours).

Once the lids start to pop, you'll know it's a success.

Step 6: Storing

Once sealed, store in a cool, dry place until such time as you decide to crack open one of the fruits of your labor!!

I really hope you've enjoyed this brief Instructable on the basics of "Hot Water Bath" canning and I hope it inspires you to make something delicious!

* Storing time will vary based on what you are canning. Most pickles and other high acid foods will store 1-2 years.



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    10 Discussions


    3 years ago on Introduction

    If I'm canning fruit, like raspberries or blackberries, blueferries, etc. is a water bath okay?

    1 reply

    Reply 3 years ago on Introduction

    Yes. There are a few different methods on how to pack them, to preserve them, but using the hot water bath method is fine to can the fruit and seal the jars.


    3 years ago

    Hey, you mention acidic foods last 1-2 years, how can you tell? are you ok as long as the safety seal isn't popping?

    also I read you shouldn't be canning alkaline food in a water bath at all, you should use a pressure canner instead. do you use this method on alkaline foods? how has it worked out for you so far?

    3 replies

    Reply 3 years ago on Introduction

    Hi mmitchell89,

    Thanks for the question. Traditionally, as long as the seal hasn't popped, most Jams, jellies, syrups, and things canned in vinegar are ok for a year or two. I've been told by both my wife and mother-in-law that they have eaten such home canned goods much older and been fine.

    Now regarding alkaline foods. The only alkaline foods I have canned, have been canned in vinegar which does render them safe because vinegar adds an acidic pH. However, if you plan on canning in plain water, you will need a pressure canner. The problem being, the hot water bath will not raise the temp of the water high enough to kill any chance of bacteria, the spores can still survive. Pressure canners are designed to reach a high temp (240F +), and even botulism spores can't survive that, rendering them safe.

    I hope the info helps.


    Reply 3 years ago on Introduction

    Thanks, it does help a lot! I'm trying to figure out whether to go for a water bath canning kit or a.pressure canner, I like that I could can anything in the pressure canner but they are a lot more expensive...


    Reply 3 years ago on Introduction

    I plan on investing in a pressure canner at some point for the same reason. However, I'll probably still can pickles with the water bath method, if for no other reason than nostalgia.

    Best of luck and I'm glad I could help out!


    3 years ago

    If one does not own a canning pot - like me - one can can (no pun intended) in a baking oven. Just tighten your jars ever so lightly so the steam can escape. When the desired time has passed, tighten the lids and turn off the oven. Leave jars in oven untill copletely cooled off.

    3 replies

    Reply 3 years ago on Introduction

    After some research, from what I have read, most folks bake at 220F and add 5 minutes to the canning time. However, while it's possible to seal jars in the oven, it's not as highly recommended as using the hot water bath method. The reason being, the water bath isn't used just for sealing, but for also reducing oxygen, which helps inhibit mold. The oven method unfortunately is not as effective.

    You are better off using a larger pot and some additonal rings in thhe bottom to elevate the jars.