About two years ago, out of the blue I got an email, asking me if I was interested in becoming a “Nintendo Enthusiast.” As someone who harbored a fairly significant Game Boy addiction back in the day, I said yes. Additionally, when a very earnest stranger offers to throw a party and give you and a bunch of your friends Nintendo DS Lites, you say okay.
Part of the deal has also been that they occasionally send me games to try out, which has been a decidedly fun perk. Once in a while, they also send a thematic gift along with game. Well, last week, I got a box that absolutely blew my mind. They’re trying to build a little buzz about the new America’s Test Kitchen game (it’s quite fun!), so along with the game, they sent a really nice bamboo cutting board, goggles for chopping onions, a bright red apron and an amazing 12 quart stock pot (it’s the this one, if you’re curious).
Of course, being me, the minute I saw the pot, I thought, “canning!” Most of the time when processing pint or smaller jars, I use my trusty Ikea stock pot (I am just too darn lazy to get my graniteware canning pot out of the closet). However, if I’m being perfectly honest with myself, it’s about an inch shorter than ideal (I get a lot of boiling over during processing). This pot has a couple of inches and two quarts on that pot. I am totally thrilled.
It’s easy to turn a regular stock pot into one good for processing. As long as it’s deep enough, you’ve just got to add a rack of some kind so as to lift the jars off the bottom of the pot. I use the rack that came with my Presto pressure cooker, however any shallow rack that fits into the pot will do (I also have an old cooling rack that works).
Now that I’ve made my canning pot confessions, I’d love to hear a little bit about the processing pot set-ups that the rest of you guys use. Do you have a classic graniteware pot? Are you using your great-aunt’s old gear? Or are you still in the market for just the right situation? Let me know!
While I got a canning pot for Christmas, it’s actually too big to fit on most of the burners on my stove, so I’m still using my original set up – a crab pot. It’s got the rack, it’s tall, it works for quarter, half and full pints. Haven’t tried quarts yet – don’t think that’ll work. I’d like something better, but it’s what I can do right now.
When I moved to Maine 2 years ago, I found a great graniteware lobster pot at Goodwill for 4.99. I couldn’t pass up the perfect equipment to steam those lobsters at home, but I’ve found it also makes a great canner. It is a bit narrow, but very deep, so I can do two layers of jars.
This is the same thing I do, although I had trouble finding the inserts, finally found them in all sizes at Lehmans.
I have two of these stock pots and use them often for canning.
I have the traditional canning pot, but I would love to have the new stainless steel set that Ball put out recently. Maybe one day when my canning pot gets rusty!
My setup is, at this point, ramshackle at best! Granted, I’ve only actually canned once (onion pickles)so far, but that one time I realized just as I filled my jars that I had made a very poor judgement call–round speckly enamel stockpot + square wire cooling rack = DOES NOT FIT. I ended up rigging up a cutty rack made of canning rings tied together. It sort of worked, I guess, but a proper rack (and a jar lifter, for that matter) are definitely next on my kitchen investment list.
I found a large stock pot at a thrift store, went to a dollar store to find a round rack, the kind to put your hot casserole on and placed that at the bottom of the stock pot.
I could fit 7-250 ml jars in without incident. I have used this method for about 2 years. Now I actually have a canning pot which my mother passed on to me about a month ago.
An ATK game?! Now that’s my kind of video game! Sounds intriguing 🙂
I’m using my mother’s gauge pressure cooker, which is heavy as the dickens and is enormous. Some of the accoutrements were hers, some my grandmother’s, and some probably my great-grandmother’s. Even if they aren’t all the most modern or efficient, using them adds an element of nostalgia and roots that I directly associate with all of my kitchen projects. Unless a safety issue arises, I’m willing to bear with a few implements that might slow me down, because they truly enrich the whole experience for me 🙂
Meanwhile, you may be amused to know, because my sister and I have both been bitten by the canning bug in recent years, my mom actually decided to buy a new canner for herself after gifting us with most of her stuff! We offered to buy some of those things for her or to return some of her familiar things, but she refused. Between me in Baltimore, my mom near D.C., my sister in Kansas and some extended family in PA, we have lovely phone, e-mail and texting conversations as we’re each amid our various projects 🙂
Hmm…I’m awfully smiley today – must be the lovely new spring greens at the market!
I have the set from Ball, the $55-or-so set with the whole kit and kaboodle. I only use the canning pot, the jar tongs, and the magnetic lid thingy. (very scientific terms, I know)
It was a gift to me when I said I wanted to get into canning!
huh. I’ve been putting jars into a big pot without any rack on the bottom, and they haven’t shattered yet! I did experiment with putting a towel down, but it mostly floats and gets in the way. Am I risking life and limb by not rigging some kind of rack?
I am using a good sized Calphalon stock pot – probably 8 quarts at a guess, and it only works for about 4 pints at a time. But, I live in an apartment and just cannot see squeezing a massive pot in that has such specialized use. I’m eyeing that stock pot you got, though. Is it really durable enough to use for more than just boiling water?
I’ve been using a canning pot with rack for years and have fallen so out of love with it. The rack keeps rusting no matter what I do to take care of it and small jars sometimes fall through, which irritates the heck out of me.
Last fall I found a stainless steel stock pot at a thrift store for all of $8.00 and swooped it up. I’ve been using it for making jam, but now I may start using it for processing.
I was using a cool old enamel pot til it rusted through. Now I have a giant old pressure canner to use, though I am not sure about pressure canning yet.
I have my mother in laws classic graniteware setup. I love using hers. I also share the same setup with a neighbor – we bought everything together before my mom in law told me she had one I could have. It’s nice to have to going at the same time tho, as my neighbor and I often can together.
I use the graniteware for anything bigger than half-pints but I really hate that stupid rack insert! It is the least stableizing item ever and the handles always fall down and get stuck so I’m fishing around in boiling water with tongs to try to get a handle on it! I’ve rigged a little rack with lid rings, but it wasn’t ideal either.
I’m using an electric waterbath canner. You can see it here. It has an adjustable thermostat that allows precise control from 86°F to boiling. It plugs into any wall outlet and can also be used to cook large batches of soup or stew. Its capacity is 7,66 gallons and has a rack.
When I moved out of the house, my mom gave me ALL her canning stuff. Score!
So I’ve got the classic graniteware pot (a little rusty, yes) with the nifty rack that holds 7 jars. I never thought of doing a makeshift one – didn’t know you could.
I have two granite-wear canners and a big pressure canner (we can a LOT), but sometimes I still use a stockpot with a folded dishtowel on the bottom of the pot.
I do exactly what you describe! Grab the rack from the pressure cooker, stick it in a taller pot and start the water bath. Sometimes I just use the pressure cooker pot without the top. Sometimes I’m embarrassed that I teach classes about food preserving and don’t even have a proper pot.
As soon as I saw that rack I thought,”It looks like the rack from my pressure cooker”.
I want to hear more about the game!
I can in a large stock pot. When I first started canning, I just put a kitchen towel in the bottom; now I usually use a metal veggie steamer.
I usually can in large enough quantities that I get out my graniteware canner, but I’m starting to rethink that. I’m looking more into small batches (maybe 1-3 jars) of specialty things and I should find a rack for my stock pot.
You’ve given me something to ponder as spring hits the Midwest!
I have a 15 qt canning pot that I bought two years ago. It’s nice but it got rust on the bottom which really bothers me when I sterilize jars. I have previously used the towel/washcloth method, and last year used a round cake cooling rack. It worked well but again got rusty very fast.
I would love to have a stainless steel pot, and some kind of rack that doesn’t rust. Anyone have any idea if a little rust in the water actually hurts anything other than my own mind? 🙂
I use a large-ish stock pot but it’s not tall enough to can quarts. It’s good enough for pints & smaller, which was OK this last year when I was *just* starting to experiment on my own. I used a vegetable steamer insert as a rack but it’s too tall & takes up too much valuable vertical space. Would anything metal work? I believe I saw Alton Brown use a bunch of forks & knives on the bottom of his stock pot on an episode of Good Eats. I want to can more this summer so I need a better setup. I guess I’ll keep my eyes peeled at thrifts shops. I did buy a jar lifter which is really helpful.
My mom used a steam canner growing up so it required a lot less boiling water. She used to can a lot of jam & stone fruits (peaches, pears, etc) plus pickles and it all seemed to work fine. Do people still use these?
My canning setup has evolved. When I first started I used a stockpot and a trivet with swirly wires for the rack. So much water splashed out that my countertop is warped. For Christmas that year I got the Ball graniteware canning set. Last year I bought a pressure canner, and now I use that for everything unless I’m doing so much canning that I need two pots going at once. The pressure canner gets to a boil faster and stays at a boil (you just take off the pressure regulator and another piece so steam can escape) and doesn’t seem to require as much water. Plus, I prefer its rack over the one from the graniteware canner that no one else that’s commented seems to like either. I can fit so much more in there! I wish I had known about it from the start!
Jennifer – My mom uses a steam canner too. The USDA says not to use them, but I like the idea. It uses less water and you can use the top as a pot too. You’d have to decide if you’re willing to take the risk of going against the govt.
I use my big All-Clad stock/pasta pot that I never thought anyone would buy us for our wedding, and even if they did (and they did!), I’d never use. Well, canning is the only thing I use it for. The pasta insert works well as a “rack” and it’s big enough to process 4oz, half-pint, and pint jars (up to 7 at a time. I keep saying I’m going to buy a real canning pot, but now my husband is talking about buying a big pot for beer-brewing, which I’m hoping will work as a new canning pot for me!
I have cobbled together some crazy stuff in my canning days. I still use a stock pot, but only for half pints. A larger one for pints. I finally scored the graniteware canner at a garage sale last summer: $10. I always hold out for the score, sad to say. I’ve used trivets, aluminum foil, and lately found a heat distributor (that you put over a gas flame for a low heat) works pretty well. Before I finally got a jar lifter (a thrift score, yes) I had been known to do some stupid tongs and oven mitts stuff.
I started looking for a canning pot around Christmas time this year. (Marmalade!). I was shocked to see them running around $75 in my area. Then I rounded a corner and saw and enormous pot with a rack for $23! It is a tamale steamer, which I think may be a lot like the lobster steamers that some of you have mentioned. It is aluminum, so it has discolored, but with no problems for the jars or lids. Because it is so big and takes so much energy to heat, I try to do 3-4 batches in a session.
I do exactly what you do– use a big stock pot with a pressure cooker insert. Mostly I do this because I have a flat top stove, so I have been advised not to use your typical granite-wear canner, as the heat from the stove can get trapped under the canner and cause the stove top to crack. Yikes! Just discovered your site. Love it.
I have added to my canning gear gradually, essential now that we have a camp with a bigger kitchen than our home. I have large graniteware canners with utensils at both locations, you never know when the urge to can my strike! However I also bought a small graniteware pot designed for smaller batches and that lives in my vehicle so it’s available at either location, along with a 12 pack of pint jars, just in case…
Traditional Granitware which is to big for my burner when it’s it’s on the rear and when it’s in front it makes the rear inaccessible. So that only leaves two burners for two medium sized pots when doing apple sauce which make the process a really long day or stretches it out into days. Anyway…I’ve been distracted by by those onion goggles. Next time I cut onions I’m busting out the kids swim goggles.
Wow, I love how many different set-ups you all are using!
Bethh the reason you lift jars off the bottom of the pot with a rack or something similar is not so much because of breakage (although that is a concern) as it is to allow the hot water to fully circulate around the entire jar. This ensures that heat fully penetrates the contents of the jar. And, as far as the stock pot I got, I think it should be useful for all those things that stock pots should do – pasta, stock and large batches of soup. It’s not as heavy as my All-Clad pot, but it’s quite sturdy.
ap269 I’m totally intrigued by your electric water bath processor. I had no idea such things existed!
A good friend of mine is also a Nintendo Enthusiast (she blogs over at http://everydaygoddess.typepad.com/ ) so I’ve seen your incredible swag before — and immediately thought “canning,” as well. Jealousy was a close runner-up in the thought process.
As for my canning setup, I’m suffering along with the same just-a-tad-too-small Ikea stockpot with a circular cooling rack. However, I’m getting married in two months (!!!) and I’ve registered for a beautiful graniteware canner as well as a big fat pressure canner. Hopefully the family will come through with that!
Haha, mine is totally cobbled together! I only canned one batch of jam in the last year, and my apartment has no space to store a canning pot, so I used my landlady’s stockpot, and seven Ball jar rings fit tightly in the bottom of the pot to make a rack.
I have not one, not two but THREE graniteware kettles (mine, my mom’s and my grandmother’s) Since grandma’s is now rather chipped, it’s been relegeated to use for non food use (dyeing), but I really like being able to be prepping jars and actively canning at the same time. But they are rather large for small batch canning. I should look into a rack for the stock pots. And I really need a new jar lifter and a rack that keeps jelly jars in. Always something…….
I am finally a home owner and now have a garden. For the first time, I will try canning. Your tips and ideas for equipment are very helpful. Heading to the thrift stores after work to see what I can find.
I use a graniteware pot, which I have discovered WORKS on my induction burner. What’s great about that? I can use it out on the deck when it is hot!
Graniteware now has an 11.5 qt waterbath canner that will process 4 oz, 8 oz and pint jars. It will fit up to 7 pint jars.