Water Bath Canning vs Pressure Canning

Have you ever wondered what the difference is between Water Bath Canning and Pressure Canning?  There’s a big difference between the two processes and when each method should be used.

Water Bathing is used mainly when canning food with high acidity such as:  tomatoes, fruits, pickles, jams, jellies and other preserves.  During the water bathing process, the jars of food are sealed and are covered completely with 1-2 inches of water, brought to a boil and then boiled for a specific amount of time.  Water bath canners are large pots with lids and wire racks inside.  The racks allow water to boil underneath the jars and keep the jars from bumping each other and breaking during the boiling process.


Pressure Canning is used when canning foods with a low acidity such as:  vegetables, meats, poultry and seafood.  During the pressure canning process, the jars are placed in the canner with 2-3 inches of water, the canner lid sealed and then brought to a temperature of a least 240°.  By bringing it to this temperature, it kills the bacteria (clostridium botulinum) that causes botulism.  Pressure canners are heavy pots with lids that can be sealed off to prevent any steam from escaping and allow the pot to build pressure.  Some canners have gaskets like the Presto.  And some are metal to metal like the All American.  I have used both and both will come with a weighted pressure gauge and a wire rack.  NOTE:  Do not pressure can on a glass top stove.  I’ve heard of horror stories!

Other things you will need for canning:

Jars – the older the better, raid Grandma’s basementMason, Ball and Kerr jars are specifically made for canning.  Try to stay away from mayonnaise jars, baby food and pickle jars. They can’t withstand the heat during pressure canning.  Mayonnaise jars are ok for water bathing but not recommended.  They come in all sizes from 4 oz jelly to 1/2 gallon.


Jar Lids and bands – Flat metal disc or “lids” with a rubber-type seal around one side near the outer edge, and a separate screw-type metal band, often referred to as rings. The flat lid may only be used once but the rings are reusable as long as they’re not dented or rusty.  Lids come in two sizes: regular mouth (like the ones pictured below) and wide mouth.  I have seen all kinds of lids.  I’ve had success with BALL and KERR.


Jar lifter: perfect for removing hot jars from canners. Jar funnel: helps in pouring and packing food/juices into canning jars.  Lid wand: magnetic wand used for removing jar lids from hot water.  Clean cloths: for wiping jar rims and spills.  Narrow, flat rubber spatula or butter knife (not pictured): for removing trapped air bubbles before the jars. Laddle: a must for spooning hot liquids into jars. You can purchase a “canning kit” that will have the lid wand, jar funnel, jar lifter and spatula at most places that have canning supplies.


Now that we’ve covered the basics, let’s start canning with confidence!



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