Canning and Freezing Equipment Needed and Why

Canning and freezing are not necessarily hard, but there are some particular pieces of equipment that you need. This equipment ranges from essential to optional, and some equipment is used in both freezing and canning. Here is a list of some of the basic equipment needed for canning and freezing.

Freezing

Freezing foods is considered simpler than canning (it is perhaps quicker), and some equipment is the same as canning. Some things are only used in freezing.

* Cookie sheets – You’ll need cookie sheets for a couple of things. First, cookie sheets provide a flat surface for freezing small foods like berries or foods chopped/sliced in pieces (like peaches and bell peppers). Once frozen, you can remove the food and place it in a bag. The other use for cookie sheets is as a flat surface on which to place soft plastic bags full of food you want to freeze. Without the sheet or tray, the bags bulge down between the bars of the freezer shelf and freeze to it.

* Wax paper – To prevent sticking, wax paper should be used to line the cookie sheets before freezing foods on the sheet.

* Zip top plastic bags – These are really handy for freezing non-liquid foods like berries, chopped vegetables, and herbs. Get the freezer bags as they are stronger and thicker than just zip top storage bags.

* Glass jars – As with canning, glass Mason jars can be great for freezing. You simply add the food to the jar and add liquid to fill in the space (or no liquid, depending on the food), and leave 1 1/4 to 1 1/2 inches from the top to allow for expansion.

* Case freezer – You can freeze food in any freezer, but if you have a large quantity that you’re going to be dipping into all winter, a case freezer (or just a separate upright freezer in your garage) can be very helpful. Also, case freezers go to a lower temperature than freezers attached to refrigerators, making food last longer and killing more microbes.

Canning

There’s no doubt that some special equipment is needed for canning.

* Canning jars – The glass canning Mason jars are best. You can get them in quart or pint sizes, and wide-mouth is usually preferred. You can even get them in 1-cup size.

* Pressure canner – For low-acid foods, a pressure canner helps remove any doubt as to the sanitation of the food. Pressure canners go to a higher temperature than boiling in a hot water bath, so more germs are killed.

* Rubber-tipped tongs – If you’ve ever tried to lift a hot jar from a pressure canner, you’ll know why you need tongs. Rubber-tipped ones help you grip the jar to get it out.

* Wide-mouth funnel – Pouring liquids into a jar (even a wide-mouthed one) can get messy without a funnel. Consider the wide-mouthed type to help you get the food into the jar with minimal mess.