Home Canning Recipes for Beginners

I’ve run into so many people lately–both in real life and online—who want to learn to tackle home canning. These beginner canning recipes are a good place for novices to start.

Or you could dive into fermentation with these recipes!!

jar of peach preserves.

Easy Canning Recipes

The recipes below can all be safely preserved using a water bath canning method. This method is easy. If you can chop and mix and cook food on the stove top, you will find it easy to take it to the next step, which simply requires putting food into jars and boiling them for a specified amount of time. 

Preserving your own food for the pantry, especially if it’s produce from your own garden, can really help cut your family’s grocery budget. Having a pantry full of food offers a little peace of mind, too.

Shortage at the grocery store? Unexpected shortfall in your income? Pulling jars of homemade tomato sauce, dill pickles, or pie fillings can help to add flavor to meals.

Believe me when I tell you that home food preservation is really very easy. There are two canning methods to be aware of: water bath canning and pressure canning. Each requires a different set of equipment.

You just need to keep this one very important thing in mind: Low acid foods like meat and veggies must be processed in a pressure canner. This method of processing jars requires a special piece of equipment. (Note that a pressure cooker is not a safe substitute for a pressure canner.)

High-acid foods, though? Those are safe to preserve in a boiling water bath. Leave the pressure canning to experienced canners for a minute! 

A water bath process—basically, immersing full jars in a deep pot of boiling water for a specified period of time—is a great way to preserve a lot of garden fresh produce. You don’t need a special canner for this; head over here to learn how a regular kitchen pot can stand in for a canner.

Items that can be safely processed using a water-bath canning process include jams and jellies, pickles, fruits, and acidified tomato products. 

🍅 Safety First!

Canning is an excellent way to preserve food for the pantry, but there are some important safety considerations to keep in mind. The recipes on this site have been made following safe canning procedures by a certified Master Food Preserver.

  • Know the difference between water bath canning and pressure canning. Low acid items must be pressure canned for safety. 
  • Altering ingredients may change the recipe’s pH, posing a safety issue. I highly recommend investing in pH paper to test your products for acidity level when canning. Note: For safe water bath canning, the Hawaii Master Food Preservers suggest a pH of 4.2 or lower in the tropics. In other regions, the recommended pH is 4.6 or lower.
  • Use the proper jars and lids. Never reuse lids, with the exception of the Tattler or Harvest Right hard plastic lids that are intended for such a purpose.
  • For more on canning equipment, please go here
  • Want to learn more? The National Center for Home Food Preservation is the go-to resource for safe canning information.

jars of persimmon jam.

Acidifying Recipes

You’ll notice that some canning recipes call for the addition of lemon juice, citric acid, or vinegar. This assures that the product within the glass jars have a pH level below 4.6, which is considered by the National Center for Home Food Preservation to be safe for water bath canning. Botulism simply cannot grow in those low acid conditions. 

Tomatoes are a borderline ingredient, so the addition of acid — especially in making salsas and other recipes that incorporate low acid ingredients — is important. 

jar lifter putting jar of salsa into canner

An Overview of Water Bath Canning

Jam and jelly is one of my favorite suggestions for beginners since they’re easy and usually only need 10 or so minutes in the canner. 

All of the recipes below are easy enough for beginners though. Here’s a quick overview of what water bath canning entails. 

Fill canning jars (aka Mason jars) with prepared product. Canning jars are specialized jars that are reusable from year to year. They range in size from quarter pint jars to quarts. (More about canning jar sizes here.)

Foods can be hot packed or raw packed. Cooked recipes call for ladling hot food into the jars. Raw packing calls for packing fruit pieces and vegetables for pickles into the jars. Once packed, the produce is topped off with a sugar syrup (in the case of fruit) or a vinegar solution (for pickles). 

canning process for preserves.

It’s important to use a non-metallic instrument to release air bubbles in the jar. Not because the bubbles themselves are a problem, but because when processed in a hot water bath, those bubbles can rise in the jar and cause the liquid level to be lower than called for, which can inhibit sealing.

Wipe the rim of the jar to remove any residue that can impede sealing and fasten lids (not reusable) and rings into place. Use a jar lifter to transfer jars to the water bath, making sure that the water level in the pot is enough to cover the jars by one-to-two inches of water. 

blank canning label.

Planning on doing lots of canning this year? Grab a FREE download of these cute printable canning labels — complete with a gentle reminder to return the jar, in case you’re giving some as gifts!

 

Bring water bath canner to a boil over high heat and begin processing time. When processing time is up, lift jars to a towel-lined countertop and allow to cool at room temperature. Don’t disturb the jars, but listen for the sound of the lids sealing with the sweet “tink!” that home canners love to hear.

That gives you a brief idea of what the process looks like. Always follow the instructions as written in safe canning recipes. 

The Handcrafted Pantry

Ready to DIY your pantry with more wholesome ingredients? Check out my ebook, The Handcrafted Pantry! Filled with delicious recipes for some of your favorite condiments, snacks, and toppings, it’s the guide you need to start skipping packaged products and embrace homemade.

The recipes included below all use a water bath method for transforming produce into a delicious shelf stable product.

jars of home canned grape jelly

 

Water Bath Canning Recipes

close up of grape jelly in a canning jar

Originally published in April 2014; this post has been updated.

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About the author: Kris Bordessa is an award-winning National Geographic author and a certified Master Food Preserver. Read more about Kris and how she got started with this site here. If you want to send Kris a quick message, you can get in touch here.

15 comments… add one
  • Manju Jul 1, 2020 @ 22:48

    What is a “ring” in the jar?

  • Susan May 22, 2020 @ 18:21

    I love your site and have for years, but I’m concerned with the introductory pic to this article with upside down jars. That’s just not safe!

    • Kris Bordessa May 23, 2020 @ 8:39

      It’s a box of empty jars.

  • Fran Mar 4, 2016 @ 9:52

    An infographic for canning with a Pressure Canner would be great.

  • Joan J Apr 30, 2014 @ 6:54

    Love your graphic but needs two tiny amendments. First, NEVER use a knife to release air bubbles unless it’s plastic. Metal knives, no matter how light weight, can fracture the glass of your jars without you knowing it. Second, you need to add to take jar ringsOFF before storing! It’s so important! If your jar comes unsealed (which it can do even weeks or months after processing), a ring on the jar could cause it to re-seal and you are susceptible to eating foods that are no longer bacteria and botulism free.

    • hailey May 4, 2014 @ 15:15

      You can leave rings on it doesn’t hurt it. You should take the rings off and wipe them off and the rim to make sure nothing is on them. I store mine with rings on and they don’t reseal just because rings are on. Second you can use a butter knife I do all the time. It’s just better to use plastic or silicone. 

      • Jenny May 4, 2014 @ 22:58

        It’s recommended to remove the rings once jars have cooled. If a seal on a jar goes bad and the ring has been left on, it may cause the jar to reseal with temperature or humidity changes. If a seal goes bad on a jar with the ring removed, the lid will pop and stay popped.

    • Sherry Sep 22, 2015 @ 5:45

      I agree, it is important to take the rings off after cooling. Among the reasons already mentioned, if you leave the rings on, they could rust, making it nearly impossible to remove the lid.

      • Kris Bordessa Oct 5, 2015 @ 8:22

        Yes, a big problem here in humidity central!

  • Coffee to Compost Apr 26, 2014 @ 10:43

    Your pictures are so inspiring! I canned for the first time this year. So far I have canned orange marmalade and pineapple jam. Strawberry jam is next, then hopefully my tomatoes will produce so much that I get tired of canning tomato sauce and salsa!

    • Kris Bordessa Apr 26, 2014 @ 19:48

      I don’t think I can ever get tired of canning salsa. Great for chips, toppings, and I add it to my chili and Mexican dishes. Perfect way to preserve the garden bounty!

  • Nina Nelson Apr 25, 2014 @ 19:14

    Yes! I love the infographic! I’ve Cannes using the water bath method three times and it still intimidates me. My husband and I are going to start canning in small batches, a la Food in Jars, and get more practice that way. Thanks for the great post!

    • Sharon Aug 7, 2020 @ 8:59

      The zucchini relish and the wonderful directions accompanying the recipe allowed me to finally try water bath canning. I have said for years I was going to do it then shy away at the last minute. This site made it sound very doable. Everyone says “ it’s easy”, but no one tells you what that means.

      • Kris Bordessa Aug 11, 2020 @ 7:30

        Awesome! Now you’re hooked. 🙂

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