How to water bath can

Preserving food has become somewhat of a lost art to most. Recently though, it’s looking like it’s making a comeback. And I’m here for.

I could go on and on about my life and how I decided to give canning a try, but I’m kind of more of “let’s get to the point” type of person (honestly! I’m horrible at small talk!)

So let’s get to it!

What is water bath canning?

Water bath canning is a way to preserve high acid foods. High acid foods prevent the growth of bacterium Clostridium botulinum.

High acid foods have a pH of 4.6 or less. These foods are typically fruits, jams, jellies, tomato products, pickles, vinegars, sauces and chutneys are the most common.

If you’re new canning, I’d stick to recipes that have been tested and are approved recipes. Some good resources for this are any Ball Canning Books.

Equipment needed

There are some things you will need before you can water bath can. Luckily, most kitchens have a pot big enough. For water bath canning, you don’t need a specific canning pot (though the canning ones are big, cheap and awesome.). You just need a pot big enough to fit jars in and to be able to cover those jars with an inch or two of water.

  • Water bath canner
  • Canning rack
  • Preserving jars, lids and rings
  • Jar lifter
  • Canning funnel (trust me! You’ll want one.)
  • Debubbler and headspace tool

You’ll want to follow the approved recipe on the size of jar so you can also know the processing time.

The process for water bath canning

  1. Inspect your jars for any chips, cracks or fractures. Don’t use any jars with imperfections.
  2. Fill your water bath canner (or pot) halfway with water. Turn on the heat to medium-high heat.
    -If I’m canning hot food (which you typically are) like hot jam, you want your jars to be hot as well to avoid thermal shock. I will place my clean jars in my canner while I prep the food. This way, they are warming up with the water and will be the same temp as the water in the canner.
  3. Check your lids for any imperfections. Don’t use any lids with dents or with incomplete sealing compound (not common). Wash the lids and rings you plan to use and set aside.
  4. Prepare your food you plan to preserve.
  5. Using the jar lifter, remove the jars one at a time from the canner, dumping any water back into the canner, and placing the heated jar on a towel on the counter.
  6. Fill canning jar using the canning funnel. Check the headspace (the space from the rim of the jar to the food). The recipe you’re using will tell you how much headspace you will need.
  7. Remove bubbles using your debubbler tool. You’ll slid the tool between the jar and the food to release any trapped air in the jar. Repeat 3-4 times around the jar.
  8. Wipe the rim of the jar with a clean cloth dipped in hot water. You’re making sure there is no food residue on the rim of the jar. If there is, the lid will not seal. Center lid on the jar and apply ring until it’s fingertip tight (your fingers are doing all the work putting the ring on. Don’t move your wrist.)
  9. Place full jar back into the canner. Repeat.
  10. If you don’t fill your canner with enough full jars, place jars full of water (no lids required) until your canner is full. This will help prevent any jars tipping during the canning process.
  11. Place lid on canner and let the water come to a rolling boil.
  12. Begin processing time.
  13. When processing time is done, remove lid and turn off the heat. Let the jars sit in the water for an additional five minutes.
  14. Remove jars using the jar lifter and place them upright on a towel to prevent thermal shock.
  15. Leave the jars undisturbed for 12-24 hours. Don’t press down on the lids and don’t tight the rings (even if they about fall off). Those both can cause a false seal.
  16. After 12-24 hours take the rings off and check for seals. If a jar did not seal, place it in the fridge so you can use it right away. If a lid did seal, label it, date it and store it in a cool, dry place for up to 18 months.

Let’s get canning!

That’s it! Water bath canning is easy and can be addicting. Some of my favorite things to water bath can are salsa, strawberry jam and pineapple.

What are you excited to try to water bath can?


Thanks for being here, learning in the space with me. It’s a joy knowing that what I’m learning is helping my family. I’ll warn you, canning is super addicting, but it is also so much fun. I’m excited for you!

Let’s be friends! You can find me on Insta, TikTok or YouTube.

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