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How to Can Without a Canner: Simple and Effective Alternatives




How to Can Without a Canner


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Canning food at home is a popular method to preserve fresh produce, but not every household has a canner. You may be wondering how to can without a canner? Is it possible? The answer is yes you can. There are some reliable alternatives that you can use to can fruits and vegetables without investing in a pressure canner.

One alternative method is using a water bath for canning. This popular technique is suitable for high-acid foods, such as jams, jellies, fruits, and sauces. To can with this method, simply use a large stockpot that can accommodate your Mason jars, fill it with water, and bring it to a boil. To ensure a successful canning process, make sure your stockpot is deep enough to cover the jars by at least two inches of water,

Other preservation methods, such as open kettle canning, dry canning, fermentation, and freezing, can also be effective ways to preserve various types of foods. It’s essential to research and follow guidelines for each specific method to ensure food safety and quality.

What is Canning

Canning is a popular method of food preservation that allows you to extend the shelf life of various types of food. By preserving food in airtight containers, typically glass jars, you can prevent the growth of harmful bacteria and enjoy your favorite produce throughout the year.

In the canning process, you first need to prepare your food by washing, peeling, and cutting it into desired sizes. While there are multiple methods for canning, one common technique involves placing the food in glass jars and sealing them with lids and bands. Then, the jars are subjected to high heat, typically through boiling water. This heat treatment kills microorganisms and forms a vacuum seal, ensuring that the contents remain fresh and safe for consumption.

There are two main types of canning methods – pressure canning and water bath canning:

  • Pressure canning is suitable for low-acid foods (such as vegetables, meat, and poultry) and requires a pressure canner to achieve high temperatures needed to kill harmful bacteria.
  • Water bath canning is used for high-acid foods (like fruit, jams, and pickles) where boiling water adequately destroys microorganisms. A water bath canner or large pot can be used for this method.

For those who do not have access to a canner, there are alternative methods available for canning without a canner. One option is the water bath canning method that can be done using a large deep pot with a tight-fitting lid and a rack to keep the jars off the bottom of the pot.

It’s essential to ensure that high-acid foods are used in this method, as the boiling water doesn’t reach the high temperatures needed to safely preserve low-acid foods.

Remember, home canning is an effective way to enjoy your favorite foods year-round while saving money and reducing waste. By following proper canning techniques and safety guidelines, you can enjoy the delicious, homemade flavors in your pantry for months to come.

Choosing the Right Equipment

How to Can Without a Canner

Choosing Your Jars

When canning without a canner, it is crucial to use appropriate canning equipment to ensure safety and preserve food quality. For this process, you will need glass preserving jars – mason jars are commonly used for home canning because of their durability and tight-sealing lids.

Ensure your jars are clean, free of any damage, and have the right-sized lids and bands for a tight seal.

Jar Lifters and Canning Funnels

Canning involves handling hot jars, and using a jar lifter will help protect your hands from burning. These tools are designed to safely grip jars and remove them from boiling water. You may find jar lifters at a local kitchen supply store or online.

canning funnel is another essential piece of equipment for this process. It helps to fill jars with food without spilling, ensuring a clean transfer and reducing the risk of contamination. Make sure you choose a funnel that fits the mouth of your jars.

Canning Rack and Pot

A canning rack is necessary for holding jars at the bottom of the pot, keeping them from touching the hot pot surface, and allowing water to circulate around them evenly. If you do not have a dedicated canning rack, you can create a makeshift one using a folded dish towel or a round cooling rack that fits the bottom of your pot.

The pot you use for canning should be large and deep enough to accommodate a few jars at once, along with enough water to cover the jars by at least an inch. A large stew pot or boiling water bath canner works well for this purpose.

Make sure the pot has a well-fitting lid to retain heat during processing. If you own an Instant Pot, some models can also be used for water bath canning, but always refer to the manufacturer’s instructions.

Once you have assembled your canning equipment, you’re ready to begin canning without a canner. Remember to follow proper sterilization and processing methods to ensure food safety and successful canning results.

Be attentive to the filling and sealing steps to avoid issues such as broken jars or contaminated food. With the right equipment and preparation, you will be able to enjoy your canned goods and share them with family and friends.

How to Can Without a Canner

Before you begin, gather your homegrown produce such as vegetables or fruits, and make sure they are fresh and free from blemishes. If you are planning to can meat, ensure it is properly prepared and cleaned, as well as cooked if necessary. Now, you are ready to begin the canning process.

Water bath canning is a practical method for preserving high-acid foods like fruits, jams, and pickles. To get started, you’ll need a large pot with a lid, canning jars with lids and bands, a jar lifter or tongs, and a clean towel.

First, prepare a boiling water bath by filling a large pot with enough water to cover the jars by at least 1-2 inches. Put the pot on the stove, and bring the water to a boil.

While waiting for the water to boil, sterilize your canning jars by washing them in hot soapy water and then boiling them in the pot for 10 minutes.

You can do the same for lids and bands, ensuring they are free from debris and ready for use. Prepare your chosen recipe (e.g., fruit preserves, pickles, etc.) and fill the sterilized jars, leaving the recommended headspace for expansion.

Place the jars in the boiling water bath, ensuring they do not touch each other or the sides of the pot. Cover the pot with a lid and process the jars for the specified time mentioned in your chosen recipe.

Using tongs or a jar lifter, carefully remove the jars from the boiling water and place them on a clean towel to cool. You’ll hear the lids’ popping sound, indicating a successful seal. Allow the jars to cool completely before storing them in a cool, dry, and dark place.

By following these clear and straightforward steps, you can confidently preserve your homegrown fruits, vegetables, and meats, extending their shelf life and enjoying them for months to come.

Preparation of Food

How to Can Without a Canner

Preparation of High Acid Foods

High acid foods include fruits, jams, and pickles. To prepare these foods for canning without a canner, first gather the necessary tools such as a large stockpot, mason jars, lids, and heat-resistant tongs.

Begin by washing and cutting the fruits or vegetables as needed. Next, cook the fruit or vegetable according to your recipe, ensuring to maintain a suitable pH level. High acid foods typically have a pH level of 4.6 or lower.

Once the food is cooked, sterilize the mason jars by washing them in hot, soapy water and then boiling them for 10 minutes in your stockpot. It’s crucial to maintain the jars’ temperature throughout the process, so keep them in the hot stockpot until you are ready to fill them with the cooked food.

Remove the jars from the stockpot using heat-resistant tongs and place them on a clean surface. Fill the jars with the cooked food, leaving a suitable headspace to allow for proper vacuum seal within the jar.

Wipe the rims of the jars using a clean, damp cloth to ensure a proper seal, then place the lids and rings onto the jars and tighten them.

Preparation of Low Acid Foods

Low acid foods include vegetables, meats, and poultry. With a more significant risk of bacteria growth, low acid foods require extra care when canning without a canner. Temperature control is essential when preserving low acid foods to prevent bacterial development.

First, clean and prepare your low acid food, ensuring it is at room temperature to prevent jars from cracking due to sudden temperature changes. Although it’s not recommended to can low acid foods without a pressure canner, if you choose to do so, make sure to increase the acidity by adding an acidifying agent, such as vinegar or lemon juice.

Next, sterilize the mason jars, lids, and rings using the same process used for high acid foods. Remove the jars with heat-resistant tongs once sterilized and carefully fill them with the low acid food.

Remember to leave the appropriate headspace for a vacuum seal. Wipe the rims of the jars to allow the lids to seal correctly, then place the lids and rings onto the jars and tighten them.

Before consuming any canned low acid food, always inspect the jars for any signs of spoilage and check the vacuum seal by pressing on the center of the lid. If it’s not sealed or any visible spoilage is present, discard the food immediately.

The Canning Process

Water Bath Canning Process

Water bath canning is a simple and effective method for preserving high-acid foods like fruits, jams, and pickles. To begin, gather your canning jars, lids, and bands. Sterilize them by washing them in hot soapy water and then boiling them in a pot for 10 minutes.

Next, prepare the food you want to can. Make sure to follow a tested recipe to ensure proper acidity levels. Fill the sterilized jars with your prepared food, leaving the recommended headspace for expansion. Secure the lids and bands onto the jars.

Without a traditional canning pot, you can use a large stockpot to create a boiling water bath for canning. Place a folded towel or a rack at the bottom of the pot to prevent direct contact between the jars and the pot.

Fill the pot with enough water to cover the jars by 1-2 inches. Once the water reaches a rolling boil, carefully lower the jars into the pot.

Process the jars in the simmering water for the amount of time specified in your recipe. When finished, carefully remove the jars and let them cool. Check the seals after 24 hours – the lids should not flex when pressed.

Pressure Canning Process

Pressure canning is the method used for preserving low-acid foods like vegetables, meats, and poultry. It requires a pressure canner rather than a simple water bath to achieve the necessary high temperatures and kill potentially harmful bacteria.

Start by preparing your canning jars, lids, and bands as you would for water bath canning. Next, prepare your chosen low-acid food according to a tested recipe. Fill the sterilized jars with the food, leaving the required headspace for expansion, and secure the lids and bands.

Add water to your pressure canner according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Place a rack at the bottom of the canner to prevent the jars from making direct contact with the canner’s bottom. Place the filled jars on the rack and secure the canner lid.

Follow the manufacturer’s instructions for venting the canner. Once properly vented, start processing the jars by allowing the canner to reach the recommended pressure.

Maintain steady pressure throughout the processing time specified in your recipe. After processing is complete, turn off the heat and allow the canner to cool and depressurize before opening.

Gently remove the jars and let them cool for 24 hours. Finally, check the seals to ensure they are properly preserved before storing them.

Monitoring and Adjusting Pressure

How to Can Without a Canner

When canning without a pressure canner, it’s important to monitor and adjust the pressure using alternative methods such as boiling bath pot or oven canning. Proper pressure management is crucial for ensuring that your canned foods are safely preserved and free from harmful bacteria.

For the boiling bath pot method, you’ll need a large pot that can hold several jars submerged in water. Start by filling the pot with water and bring it to a rolling boil.

Once the water is boiling, carefully place your filled jars into the pot, ensuring that they are fully submerged and not touching each other to prevent breakage. Keep the water at a steady boil for the recommended processing time based on your recipe and altitude.

During this process, regularly check the water level to ensure it remains about 1-2 inches above the jar lids. You can maintain the pressure by adjusting the heat of the stove as needed throughout the boiling time.

If the water level drops too low, add more boiling water to keep the jars submerged. The boiling bath pot method is an excellent option when canning high-acid foods like fruits, pickles, and jams.

For oven canning, it’s essential to preheat the oven to the desired temperature based on your specific recipe. Once the oven is preheated, arrange the filled jars on a baking sheet or oven-safe rack, leaving enough space between each jar for proper airflow. Then, place the jars in the center of the oven, ensuring even heat distribution.

Oven canning does not require you to adjust pressure like traditional pressure canning methods; however, it is crucial to monitor the temperature using an oven thermometer to ensure the heat remains consistent.

Be sure to adhere to the recommended processing time and temperature for your recipe and altitude. Oven canning is suitable for preserving dry goods like flour, sugar, and herbs, but it’s not recommended for low-acid foods, as they require higher temperatures than what can be achieved in ovens to safely preserve them.

Both methods require proper venting during the canning process. For the boiling bath pot method, steam escaping from the pot indicates that pressure is being released. In the case of oven canning, opening the oven door at regular intervals to let out the steam will ensure proper venting.

By closely monitoring and adjusting the pressure using these alternative methods, you can successfully preserve your food without the need for a pressure canner.

Sealing and Storing Your Canned Goods

Ensuring a Good Seal

To ensure a good seal, start by leaving about 1/2 inch of headspace at the top of the jar when filling it with your desired food item. The headspace allows room for expansion and vacuum sealing. Wipe the rims of the jars clean using a damp paper towel to remove any residues, as this helps create a better seal. Place the lids on the jars and screw on the rings until they are finger-tight.

To seal the jars without a canner, you can use the water bath method as mentioned in this source. Place a rack in the bottom of a large pot and fill it with water so that it covers the jars by at least one inch. Bring the water to a boil, then reduce the heat and let the jars simmer for the recommended processing time for your specific recipe.

Once the processing time is complete, carefully remove the jars from the water bath and allow them to cool. You should hear a popping sound as the jars seal, indicating that a vacuum has formed: this is your sign of a successful seal. You can also check the seal visually by gently pressing on the center of the lid. If it doesn’t move or flex, your jar is sealed.

Storing Canned Goods

Once your jars are sealed, store them in a cool, dark place like a pantry or a cabinet away from direct sunlight. Ensure that you label each jar with the contents and the date they were canned to keep track of their shelf life.

The shelf life of home-canned goods can vary, but in general, they can last for up to one year, given proper storage conditions.

To further protect your canned goods, remove the canning rings (also known as bands, screw bands, or rims) before storing them. This is considered a best practice in home canning to prevent any potential contamination or rust on the lids.

Keeping the jars clean and free from debris helps prevent the growth of harmful bacteria such as botulism spores.

In summary, ensuring a good seal and properly storing your canned goods will help extend their shelf life and maintain the quality of your preserved food.

By following these best practices, you can enjoy your home-canned goods with confidence, knowing they are safely preserved and ready to be enjoyed.

How to Can Without a Canner

Concerns and Precautions

When canning without a canner, it is crucial to understand the potential risks and take necessary precautions. One of the main concerns with at-home canning is the risk of botulism, a harmful bacteria that can cause severe illness or even death. To ensure your canned foods are safe, you should follow these guidelines:

  • Sterilize your jars and lids: Before canning, you need to sterilize your jars and lids to eliminate any existing bacteria. You can do this by boiling them in water for at least 10 minutes. If you are at a higher altitude, add 1 minute for every additional 1,000 feet in elevation.
  • Choose appropriate foods: Some foods, such as acidic fruits and pickled vegetables, can be safely canned using the water-bath canning method. However, low-acid foods like meats, seafood, and unpickled vegetables must be canned using a pressure canner to ensure bacteria is destroyed at the proper temperature.
  • Avoid unsafe methods: Open kettle canning and dry canning are methods that should be avoided as they do not reach the necessary temperature or pressure to kill harmful bacteria. These methods can lead to a higher risk of botulism. Stick to water-bath canning for acidic and pickled foods, and look into acquiring a pressure canner for low-acid foods.

Always keep in mind that proper hygiene is essential to prevent contamination. Make sure to wash your hands, work surfaces, and utensils thoroughly before and during the canning process.

Alternative Canning Methods

Dehydrator Canning

Dehydrator canning is an excellent method for preserving fruits, vegetables, and even meats without the need for a traditional canner. In this method, you simply use a dehydrator to dry out the food, which greatly extends its shelf life.

To begin, prepare your food items by washing them thoroughly and cutting them into consistent sizes to promote even dehydration. For example, if you’re dehydrating green beans, you may want to trim the ends and slice them into bite-sized pieces.

Next, place your prepared food onto the dehydrator trays, ensuring that they are not overlapping to allow proper air circulation. Set the dehydrator to the appropriate temperature and time for your specific food items, usually found in the device’s manual.

As an alternative to a dehydrator, you can also use an Instant Pot as a makeshift dehydrator. Use the Instant Pot’s steam function in combination with a steamer basket to create the necessary airflow for dehydration. Keep in mind that this method might take longer, and the results may vary from those of a dedicated dehydrator.

Water Bath Canning

Water bath canning is another option to explore when looking for ways to can without a pressure canner. This method relies on boiling water to kill bacteria and create a vacuum seal on the canning jars. It’s perfect for preserving high-acid foods, such as pickles, jams, and fruits.

To proceed with water bath canning, follow these steps:

  1. Start by cleaning and sterilizing your jars, lids, and rings.
  2. Prepare your recipes and fill the jars, leaving the required headspace needed for the expansion of the contents during the canning process.
  3. Carefully place your filled jars in a large canning pot or a similar container capable of holding enough water to completely submerge the jars.
  4. Bring the water to a rolling boil and process the jars as per the specifications of your recipe, typically between 10 to 45 minutes.
  5. Remove the jars from the water bath using a jar lifter and allow them to cool for 12-24 hours.
  6. Finally, check the seals on each jar – the lid should not flex when pressed. If the seal appears secure, your canned goods are ready to be stored in a cool, dry place for future use.

Remember, it’s important to follow trusted recipes and guidelines for both dehydrator and water bath canning to ensure food safety and the best results possible.

With these alternative canning methods, you can enjoy your favorite preserved foods without the need for a traditional pressure canner.

Recipes and Ideas

How to Can Without a Canner

When it comes to canning without a canner, there are plenty of recipes and ideas to try. You can experiment with various ingredients, such as pickles, brine, salt, herbs, sugars, carrots, hot peppers, teas, and vinegar, to create delicious homemade preserves.

Pickles: A classic choice for canning, you can make your own pickles by soaking cucumbers in a brine solution. Combine water, vinegar, and salt, then add spices like dill, garlic, and mustard seeds to enhance the flavor. For a spicier kick, add sliced hot peppers. Check out this alternative canning guide for more tips and instructions.

Brine recipes: Brine is essential for pickling and canning. Experiment with different salt-to-water ratios, adding sugar, and incorporating various herbs and spices to create unique flavor profiles.

Fruits and Vegetables: High-acid foods, such as fruits and some vegetables, can be canned using the water bath method. This Prairie Homestead article suggests starting with jams and jellies as an introduction to canning.

You can also can carrot sticks, peppers, and more by processing them in a hot water bath, allowing for longer shelf life and a great way to preserve your garden harvest.

Herbs and teas: Infuse your preserves with herbs like rosemary, basil, and thyme, or use fruit-based teas for extra flavor. Incorporate these into your high-acid fruit preserves or pickling brine for a unique twist.

Sweet preserves: Create scrumptious fruit preserves by combining fresh fruit with sugar and lemon juice. Homemade jams, jellies, and fruit butters can be canned using the water bath method, as mentioned in this Stocking My Pantry article.

Remember to sterilize your jars, lids, and bands before filling them with your delicious homemade creations. Don’t be afraid to explore and experiment with different ingredients and methods—canning without a canner is a fun and rewarding process.


In conclusion, canning without a canner is not only possible but also quite manageable with alternative methods. By opting for techniques such as water bath canningopen kettle canning, and dry canning, you can successfully preserve your food without the need for a pressure canner1.

One essential consideration when canning without a canner is to carefully select the appropriate method for the specific food you want to preserve. For example, water bath canning is well-suited for acidic foods like fruits2, while dry canning works well for dry goods like grains3.

Additionally, be sure to follow proper sanitation guidelines to ensure food safety. This includes washing your hands, cleaning the jars and lids, and making sure all surfaces are clean and free of contaminants4.

Here is a summary of the key points discussed:

  • Alternative methods for canning without a canner: water bath canning, open kettle canning, and dry canning.
  • Match the preservation method to the food type to ensure proper preservation.
  • Adhere to strict sanitation guidelines to ensure food safety and prevent spoilage.

Remember that with a little bit of research, experimentation, and patience, you can successfully preserve your foods without the need for a pressure canner. Embrace these alternative methods and enjoy the rewards of your efforts in the form of long-lasting, home-preserved foods.


  1. Alternative Canning – How to Can and Preserve Food Without a Pressure Canner 
  2. Is Canning Without a Canner Possible? 
  3. Canning Without Water Bath – Safe Techniques You Need to Know 
  4. How to Can Without a Canner (No Pressure Needed) 
How to Can Without a Canner

Frequently Asked Questions

What are some alternatives to using a pressure canner?

There are several alternative methods to canning without a pressure canner, including water bath canning, open kettle canning, dry canning, fermentation, and freezing. Each method has its own set of advantages and is suitable for preserving different types of foods. To learn more, check out Alternative Canning.

How can I safely can without a canning rack?

If you don’t have a canning rack, you can use a towel, a silicone trivet, or a homemade rack made of canning jar rings to create a cushion at the bottom of the pot.

This helps to prevent jars from breaking due to direct contact with the heat and also allows water to circulate evenly around the jars. Make sure to check for any signs of breakage or improperly sealed jars after the process is complete.

What is the water bath canning method?

Water bath canning is a process that involves boiling jars of high-acid foods, such as jams, jellies, fruits, and pickles, in a large pot with a rack or a cushion at the bottom.

This method preserves the food by killing bacteria and creating a vacuum seal, extending the shelf life of the food. For more information, visit The National Center for Home Food Preservation.

What are the essentials for proper canning at home?

To properly can at home, you need a few essential items: clean glass jars with lids and bands, a large pot with a rack or a cushion at the bottom, a jar lifter, a funnel, a bubble remover or a small spatula, and a clean towel.

Additionally, follow a tested canning recipe and ensure that you use the correct processing time and method (pressure canning or water bath canning) for the type of food you are preserving.

How long should jars be boiled to ensure a proper seal?

The boiling time for jars in a water bath canner varies depending on the recipe, jar size, and altitude. Generally, processing times range from 10 to 45 minutes. Always follow a tested recipe to ensure food safety.

Once jars are removed from the canner, let them cool undisturbed for 12-24 hours, after which you can check the seal by pressing the center of the lid. If it doesn’t move or makes a clicking sound, the jar is properly sealed.

What are the steps to can jam or tomatoes without a canner?

  1. Prepare the jam or tomatoes according to a tested recipe.
  2. Fill clean jars with prepared food, leaving appropriate headspace as indicated by the recipe.
  3. Wipe the rims of the jars clean and secure lids and bands.
  4. Place jars on a rack or a cushion at the bottom of a large pot filled with enough water to cover 1-2 inches above the jars.
  5. Bring water to a rolling boil and process the jars for the time specified in the recipe, adjusting for altitude if necessary.
  6. Turn off the heat, remove the lid, and allow the jars to sit in the pot for 5 minutes.
  7. Carefully remove the jars using a jar lifter and place them on a towel to cool, undisturbed, for 12-24 hours.
  8. Check the seal on each jar before storing in a cool, dark place.

Remember to always follow a tested recipe for safe canning results.

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