Water Bath Canning

Find tips and how-to instructions for water bath canning.

Before beginning, inspect the glass canning (mason) jars carefully for any chips, cracks or breaks. Discard any imperfect jars. Wash the jars, screw bands and lids in hot soapy water; rinse thoroughly in hot water. (A dishwasher can also be used.)

Just before preparing your recipe, place the jars and screw bands in a large kettle. Fill the jars and kettle with hot (not boiling) water over low heat, covering the jars by 1 inch. Place the lids in a small saucepan of hot water over low heat. Keep the jars, screw bands and lids in the hot water until ready to use.

When ready to fill the jars, remove them with a jar lifter, emptying the water from the jars back into the kettle. Set the jars, screw bands and lids on a clean kitchen towel.

Boiling-Water Bath Basics

Step 1

Put the rack in your canner. Add several inches of water; bring to a simmer. Prepare the recipe as directed. Ladle or pour the hot mixture into hot sterilized jars. Use a ruler to make sure you’re leaving the recommended headspace for expansion during processing.

Step 2

Wipe the threads and rim of the jar with a clean, damp cloth. Place a warm lid on top of each jar with the sealing compound next to the glass.

Step 3

Screw a band onto the jar just until resistance is met.

Step 4

Immediately after filling each jar, use a jar lifter to place the jar onto the rack in the canner, making sure the jars are not touching. Lower the rack when filled. If necessary, add enough boiling water to the canner to cover jars by 1 to 2 inches. Cover the canner. Adjust heat to hold a steady rolling boil. Start counting the processing time when the water returns to a boil. If the water level decreases while processing, add additional boiling water.

Step 5

When the processing time has ended, remove the jars from the canner with a jar lifter. Stand upright on a towel; keep away from drafts.