Tuesday, August 18, 2015

BONUS Canning Utensils: Review & Use

When I first started canning, I started out with a basic set of canning utensils. I hadn't read a review of caning utensils, didn't understand exactly how to use the individual canning tools or what a bubble popper was.
Here is what I wish someone had told me before I bought my utensils.

Funnel: The funnel is specifically designed to fit in regular and wide mouth canning jars and allows for easier filling of the jars. It also helps keeps to rim of the jar clean.
Since I vacuum seal at lot of dry items in canning jars, I also find the canning funnel perfect to use for adding the dry items to the jars since the funnel is much wider.


Magnetic Lifter/Bubble Popper: Sometimes this comes together as one piece, sometimes it comes as two separate pieces.
The magnetic lifter is used if you are still warming your lids in hot water, it is used to lift lids safely out of hot water and to place the warm lid on your jars. 


The Presto which I prefer has the combo, the other end of this tool is your bubble popper.
You use it by inserting it into to the filled jars and moving it around the inside to release the trapped air bubbles in the jar. This is called bubbling. 
You may use something like a rubber spatula to perform the same job. It's best not to use a metal item to release the bubbles because it could scratch the inside of the glass surface.
It’s important to get the trapped air out of your jars. During the canning process the heat pulls the oxygen out of the jars to create the vacuum seal. You want to insure all that air is pulled out, not have some air trapped inside of your food.


Jar Lifter: Means just that. Those jars coming out of your canner when they are finished canning are super hot. The jar lifter is something I am particular about. Examine the handle. I have one (which I can't identify the manufacturer or I would tell you) in which the handle is terrible. it is made from two hard plastic pieces and once you drop it, the handle splits into two pieces. Once I took this picture for this article I threw it away.


Tongs: The tongs are great for handling hot food. But, I use it most often for lifting the rack(s) out of my canner. Particularly when I am am double stacking my canning.

Jar Wrench: Honestly this tool languished in my bags for awhile. The jar wrench is used to open those hard to open rings. I rarely use it for canning, since I remove my rings after canning for storage. But, there has been a tie or two where the rings didn't want to come off. Now I use it all the time for other hard to open jars in my pantry. It's great.

Now ranking my choice of manufacturers. 
The Ball Canning Utensil Set works fine, it just lacks the combo magnetic lid lifter/bubble popper. 

What I recommend most often is the Presto 6 Function Canning Utensil Set. It has the wonderful lifter/bubble popper and includes a timer. You get everything you could need for canning in one set.

Recently I purchased this Faberware Canning Set to add to my collection. It is a bit pricier, but I LOVE the sturdier jar lifter. 
Plus, the funnel has head space markings on the actual funnel on the bottom.

Know you know which tools I recommend and why. Keep reading for my Super Helpful Storage Tip:

The reason I appear to be organized is that if I didn't use these tips, I would never be able to find my canning utensils when it came time to can. I actually store my canning utensils in this bag I got for $1 at Target. I keep the weight, timer and canning booklet in the little pocket on the front. 

When I get my pressure canner out to use, I then hang the bag out of the way on a shelf close to my stove (below). I actually have two sets of utensils in this bag. It has come in very handy several times when I have dropped one of my utensils on the floor. I just reach inside and get out a second one that is clean. 

Then when the items are clean again, I put the bag inside my canner when I am not using it. As you see I have helpers. They always show up when I am canning. Since I have two canners, I have one bag of utensils in each canner. 

These two sets are the canning utensil that I personally recommend.

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