This Hot New Tool Makes Canning So Much Easier

Steam canners could revolutionize home canning forever. Here's how to use one safely—straight from the experts.

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Home canning used to be a necessary activity every summer, to preserve the bounty for the long winter. These days, home canners keep on canning for a simpler reason: the pleasure of making fresh-tasting jams, jellies and salsas.

As a hobby canner, my least favorite part of the process is the last step, processing the jars in a pot of boiling water to sterilize and seal. The water takes ages to boil and heats up the whole house, plus it feels wasteful. Turns out, there’s a new gadget out there meant to replace the water bath: steam canners. But are steam canners safe? Here’s the scoop.

What Is Steam Canning?

Traditional water bath canning requires jars to be submerged in a pot of boiling water—a fairly foolproof method that uses a huge quantity of water (and energy to keep the water boiling). Steam canning, as the name indicates, uses steam heat to sterilize and seal the jars. Jars are placed on a rack over a pan of water, and a lid seals in the steam. A dial on the exterior of the steam canner will track the temperature inside, including settings to adjust for altitude.

The steam environment will reach a temperature of 212ºF, the same temperature as boiling water.

Our favorite canning recipes range from spicy sauce to sweet pickles.

Are Steam Canners Safe?

Yes! Recently, the University of Wisconsin extension system conducted research that determined steam canners are safe for use on specific high-acid recipes. Use your steam canner to process food for no longer than 45 minutes. (Use a water bath canner for recipes that go longer.)

Make sure to use a canning recipe from a trustworthy source. Resources like the National Center for Food Preservation meticulously test their recipes.

Can you use your grandma’s preserve recipes? Here’s the sad truth.

What to Preserve in a Steam Canner

High acid foods, like apples and peaches, and foods with added acid, like pickles and salsa, can be preserved in a steam canner. (Watch us use one to make sweet pickles and marinara.) Just make sure the pH is 4.6 or below and you’ll be good to go.

Want to get started? This steam canner has a high rating on Amazon, plus a reasonable price point.

Kelsey Rae Dimberg
A former in-house editor at Taste of Home, Kelsey now writes, cooks and travels from her home base of Chicago. After going gluten-free over a decade ago, Kelsey turned to home cooking and baking as a way to recreate her favorite foods. Her specialties include gluten-free sourdough bread, pizza and pastry. When not wrangling her toddler, she enjoys reading, watching old movies and writing. Her debut novel, Girl in the Rearview Mirror, was published by William Morrow in 2019, and her second is forthcoming.