How to prepare for the canning season

January, February, and March are the greatest months to get ready for the upcoming canning season within most of the United States.  Attend flea markets and estate sales to find the best bargains.  In order to be better prepared for the season, you will need the following items:

Stainless Steel or copper cooking pot, preferably a dutch oven with lid.  (no aluminum)  It can be well used, just make sure the handles are strong and firm.  I prefer copper with brass handles but they can be really costly new and hard to find used.   Flea market/yard sale SS dutch ovens sell here for $1 – $5.

Wooden spoons and a clock with a second-hand.  You will also needs some towels that you do not mind getting sticky.  Hand towels and bath towels alike.  All found at most flea markets and estate/yard sales.

Jars.  You can find so many of those at yard sales and flea markets you will almost never need to purchase them new.  Just make sure there are no chips or cracks, especially at the top rim.  Run them through the dishwasher and you have great canning jars!  You can also find some on your local “freecycle” site.

Stainless Steel or enamel hot water bath canner.  If you are having a hard time visualizing enamel pots, think dark blue with white speckles all over it.  This can be any stock pot with a lid that will completely cover the jars when put in water.  Those too can also be picked up at estate sales for next to nothing.

Fine mesh strainer.  I’ve seen hundreds of these at sales for 50 cents or even less. 

Food Mill.  The kind with a handle that you move in a clock-wise or counter clock-wise manner in order to strain the fruit meats from the peelings and seeds.  These are a time saver!  I paid $1 for mine at a yard sale.  Now I can wash and cut apples in large pieces, throwing them stems and all into a pot to simmer, then dip out and press through the food mill.  SO much easier than the old way of peeling the apple and chopping up first.

Food strainer:  These are shaped like an upside-down dunce cap.  Generally, they come with a stand and a wooden “presser”.  Make sure the wooden item comes to a point at the bottom.  It’s very important! 

Several bowls of different sizes.  I prefer plastic because they are light weight. 

You might also like to buy a grater for orange/lemon/lime zesting.  I bought a pampered chef zester at an estate sale this weekend for $1 this weekend.

Several measuring cups.  That way you can measure wet and dry ingredients separately and they come for quarters and dollars at flea markets.

A canning lifter is a must!  I purchased one this weekend at an estate sale for $1.  I have 4 now. 

Also, a canning funnel.  I have my grandmothers but have purchased many at yard sales and estate sales for less than $1. 

An immersion blender is very nice to have if you like to make things like apple butter or spaghetti sauce.

Cheese cloth, lids, and screw tops must all be purchased new.  However, if you shop frugally and start early, you can get all your needed items for about $25.

Make your list and start reading the paper for weekend sales!

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