Water Bath Canning Recipes and Tips for New Canners

I think water bath canning is the best place to start when you first learn canning. Check out these FAQs and recipes to help get you started.

Two empty jelly-sized mason jars sitting on a counter with burlap in the background.

Exploring the world of home preservation opens up a world of culinary options, and it is great to enjoy seasonal tastes all year long. Focusing on safely preserving high-acid foods, water bath canning is a great way for people who are new to this traditional method to start. This post will show you the basics, including frequently asked questions, must-have items, and a number of tried-and-true recipes. This will help you start canning on a solid and sure footing.

I was a bit nervous when I canned independently for the first time. People throwing around a word like botulism does tend to unnerve you. I really didn’t want to be a headline in the paper.

Woman Takes Out Entire Family with Unsafe Can of Carrots

Honestly, though, it’s really not that hard. If you have someone in your life who is willing to mentor you, spend some time canning with them. If you don’t have a mentor, check for local classes. 

If you can’t find an actual person to teach you, Ball’s Blue Book Guide to Preserving is like the canning bible. You should always get the latest edition because canning practices, such as changes in canning lid procedures, are always evolving.

What is Water Bath Canning?

Water bath canning is a method of preserving food in which jars filled with high-acid contents are placed in a large pot of boiling water and heated for a set period of time. This process kills harmful bacteria and other microorganisms, seals the jars to prevent air from entering, and extends the shelf life of the food. It’s an ideal technique for fruits, jams, jellies, salsas, and other high-acid foods because the high acidity and the heat treatment prevent the growth of harmful bacteria.

In contrast, pressure canning uses a specialized pressure canner to process low-acid foods such as vegetables, meats, poultry, and seafood. Unlike water bath canning, pressure canning heats the contents to a higher temperature than boiling water can achieve, typically 240°F (116°C) or higher. This is necessary to destroy botulinum spores, which can survive the temperatures reached in water bath canning and pose a risk of botulism when low-acid foods are canned. 

Pressure canning is the only safe method for canning low-acid foods because it ensures that the food is heated evenly and thoroughly to a temperature high enough to kill all harmful microorganisms.

Supplies You Need to Get Started

To get started with water bath canning, you’ll need a few essential supplies. First, a water bath canner is crucial; it’s a large pot with a rack to hold jars off the bottom. For this, the Granite Ware 8-Piece Enamelware Water Bath Canning Kit is a perfect starter set. It includes the pot with lid and a rack that holds 7 one-quart jars, 9 pint jars, or 12 half-pint jars, plus a bubble remover with ruler, a jar lifter, a magnetic lid lifter for safely removing lids from boiling water, a jar wrench for tightening or loosening jar lids, and a jar funnel. 

If you’re looking for a more comprehensive kit, the Granite Ware 12-Piece Canner Kit offers the same pot with lid, rack, and tools as the 8-Piece Kit, plus a 9.5” colander and a blancher with drain insert, covering nearly all your needs. 

Additionally, you’ll need canning jars with new lids and rings. Reusable canning lids are a sustainable alternative to traditional single-use lids, designed for home canning. They typically consist of a plastic lid and a rubber gasket that can be used multiple times, offering a cost-effective and environmentally friendly option for those who do regular canning. With these supplies, you’ll be well-equipped to start preserving your favorite high-acid foods safely at home.

The Granite Ware canning kit being used to can spaghetti sauce.
My printable mason jar labels.

Please note that these labels don’t have contents written on them. That portion is blank so you can write it in yourself. They can be printed in color or in grayscale. They have been formatted to be printed on Avery labels.

Water Bath Canning FAQs

Because this is such an extensive list, I’ve broken it down into sections for your convenience.

General Questions

High-acid foods like fruits, jams, jellies, salsa, tomatoes (with added acid), pickles, and some condiments are suitable for water bath canning.

Botulism is caused by bacteria that thrive in low-acid, anaerobic (oxygen-free) environments. Water bath canning high-acid foods properly prevents this risk.

No, low-acid foods such as vegetables, meats, and poultry must be canned using a pressure canner to reach temperatures high enough to kill harmful bacteria.

Adding acid ensures the pH level is safe for water bath canning, reducing the risk of botulism.

It’s best to follow tested recipes precisely. Altering ingredients or proportions can affect the acidity and safety of the final product.

Doubling recipes can affect processing times and temperatures. It’s safest to process in batches according to tested recipes.

You can can foods from your own garden, your friends’ gardens, the farmer’s market, and even grocery store fresh produce. I highly recommend only using organic produce from the grocery store since things may have been applied to non-organic produce to preserve freshness that can’t be rinsed off in the sink — gross, right?!

Canning Supplies Questions

Use jars specifically designed for canning, such as Mason jars. These are made to withstand the heat of canning and form a proper seal.

Metal lids with sealing compounds are designed for one-time use. Reusable canning lids are also available. Bands can be reused if they’re not rusty or bent.

Jars should be clean and can be sterilized by boiling them if the processing time is under 10 minutes. Lids do not need to be boiled but should be clean and used according to manufacturer’s instructions.

Any large pot will do, but canning pots make life a bit easier. The bigger the pot, the better it maintains a constant temperature.

During Canning Questions

Proper headspace allows for proper vacuum sealing. Too little headspace and the contents of the jar may bubble out. Too much head space prevents the jar from sealing. Headspace varies by product but generally ranges from ¼ inch for jams and jellies to ½ inch for fruits and tomatoes.

Bands should be tightened to fingertip tightness. This allows air to escape during processing to form a vacuum seal.

Use a non-metallic spatula or bubble remover tool to gently slide around the inside of the jar, releasing trapped air.

A rolling boil involves continuous bubbles and is necessary for processing. A simmer is gentler, with occasional bubbles, and is not suitable for processing.

You can, but use caution. Adding that many cool cans to the pot may cause the temperature of the water to be too much. The time it would take for the water to return to temperature may result in mushy canned goods.

Jars can break due to sudden temperature changes, over-tightening bands, or using non-canning jars.

After Canning Questions

When stored in a cool, dark place, water bath canned goods typically last up to a year for optimal quality. Always check the seals and for signs of spoilage before use. Here is more information about how long you can expect your canned goods to last.

If a jar doesn’t seal within 24 hours, you can reprocess the contents with a new lid within 48 hours, refrigerate and consume it within a few days, or freeze it.

Signs include a bulging lid, leaking, off-odors, and any visible mold. Do not consume if you suspect spoilage.

Water Bath Canning Recipes

Are you ready for some delicious recipes to try out canning? These are a few of my favorites.

Jams & Jellies

My How to Can Jam Without Sugar or Honey post provides a healthier option for those who want to enjoy the sweetness of jam without the added sugar. Learn how to create naturally sweet jams and jellies that are ideal for people watching their sugar intake.

Serviceberry Lemon Balm Jam from Homespun Seasonal Living
Orange Marmalade from Simply Canning
Seedless Elderberry Apple Jam from Our One Acre Farm
Strawberry Rhubarb Jam from Heartbeet Kitchen
Gingerly Green Tomato & Vanilla Apple Jam from Homespun Seasonal Living
Homemade Hot Pepper Jelly from Better Hens & Gardens
Dandelion Jelly That Tastes Like Honey from Simply Canning
Melon Star Anise Jam from Homespun Seasonal Living

Fruits & Vegetables

Learn how to make the crispiest dill pickles with my special pickle recipe that guarantees a satisfying crunch in every bite thanks to a secret ingredient.

Spiced Peach Slices In Light Syrup from The Untrained Housewife
Fermented Deli Pickles from Fermenting for Foodies
Spicy Lemon Pickled Beans from Timber Creek Farmer
Pickled Beets with Apple Cider Vinegar & Honey from Montana Homesteader
Pickled Asparagus with Dill and Garlic from The Untrained Housewife
Spiced Brandied Peaches from Homespun Seasonal Living
Apple Pie Filling from New Life on a Homestead

Salsas & Condiments

Roasted Corn Salsa from Creative Canning
Nectarine Maple Vanilla Butter from Homespun Seasonal Living
How to Can a Zesty Salsa from The Untrained Housewife
Tried-and-True Spaghetti Sauce from Wholefully
Annie’s Green Tomato Salsa from Mother Earth News
How to Make Maple Syrup for Canning from Our One Acre Farm
4 Tips for Canning Salsa from Homespun Seasonal Living

If you’ve found value in this blog post and enjoyed reading it, why not share it with your Pinterest community? Pin the image below and spread the love!

A Pinterest-friendly graphic for my post on how to water bath can foods and recipes to get you started.

I urge you to give canning a try. It is so rewarding, and it’s a great skill to be able to pass on. If you are anything like me, you will spend hours gazing lovingly at your cans, all lined up in a row. Happy canning!

What is your favorite food to can?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.


  1. Once Upon a Time in a Bed of Wildflowers says:

    This is a great post! (I especially like the first paragraph! 😉 )
    But, seriously, I can’t wait to share this post with my readers! And check out the recipes, too. I’m always looking for something new to can!

  2. Strawberry jam made by my grandma is the best. She’s going to teach me how to make it. I’d love to win so I could make it.

  3. I just started canning this Summer – tomatoes form our garden, garden cucumbers turned pickles, and today Beautyberry jelly. I really love foraging for free food to can! Muscadine grape jelly will be next. 🙂 I can’t wait to learn pressure canning, beef stew, chili, green beans – yum!

  4. Mona Twocats-Romero says:

    My favorite canned food has got to be tomatoes. I love canning and eating and cooking with tomatoes.

  5. My favorite is canned sweet potatoes! Thanks!

  6. Anything tomato! Sauce, salsa, yum

  7. Tammy Lamb Curry says:

    Sharing with a new friend who seems to win everything! LOL

  8. Jennifer Jennings says:

    sweet pickles

  9. Sharon Kiely says:

    Jellies of all kinds through the summer! Looking forward to fall weather to get in high gear with veggies and meat and soups!

  10. Joseph West says:

    Bread & butter pickles.

  11. Dawn Mosley says:

    My favorite would have to be my mom’s apple-pear jelly made from apples and pears right from her backyard!

  12. Cindy Boucher says:

    My favorite is eggplant with garlic. Then everything else possible. Lol

  13. Michelle Proper says:

    Dilly Beans!

  14. Denise Bucher says:

    Havent started canning yet, but really want to so I can make my own pickles !

  15. janice slack says:

    This 74 year old woman wants to learn to can. Been looking in thrift stores for supplies but not much to pick from. Would love to win as would everyone else I’m sure.

  16. Clare Phillips Lewis says:

    I love to open a jar of tomatoes in the middle of winter and smell the wonderful summer aroma.

  17. brooke cooper says:

    I haven’t canned since I was a child cannin with my mom. I would love to be able to do this with my own daughter!

  18. Debbie Mac says:

    My favorite canned food…white half runners! Second jellies and jams

  19. Karen of Blue Yonder Urban Farms says:

    Hello,, I would love to win, this water bath caner. Your recipes look lovely, I want to try them all.

  20. I love it all! My favorite is probably pickled habaneros.

  21. fashnface50 says:

    My spicy pickled green beans

  22. Lydia Hostetler says:

    I love to can anything. Today I did a giant double batch of pizza sauce. Yummy for my family. I need to repeat that at least two more times as we ran out last year.