A large stock pot can save you time and money while canning! Time, because you can do double duty. Money, because you don’t need to buy a large canning pot.
Have you ever been in the middle of canning and realized that you can fit everything but a few extra jars into your big canner?
Canning is rewarding, but let’s be real. It’s also a big time investment. The whole process of getting the water up to boiling, processing the jars for the required time, and then allowing them to cool for a few minutes before removing from the racks can take an hour for a single batch.
When you end up with a couple of leftover jars, who wants to go through all of that again just to get the last few jars processed and sealed?
I certainly don’t. And I have really good new for you if you don’t, either.
You don’t have to solely rely on your big canning pot to get your jars processed. A big stock pot can work, too! By making a simple modification, your large stock pot can do double duty as a water bath canner for pint-sized or smaller jars.
That means you can do twice the canning in the same amount of time. Busy mommas rejoice!
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A few days had gone by since I bought some fresh tomatoes, peppers, and onions from a local farm market. They were the home garden kind of ripe that doesn’t allow for much of a shelf life, but the taste makes up for any inconvenience.
I soon realized that if those flavorful beauties didn’t get made into salsa soon, they’d end up in the compost pile. That would be sad.
I also realized this late in the day, making it look like I was in for a long night in the kitchen. Also sad.
After spending a good chunk of time peeling tomatoes, onions, and garlic, and running all that and more through the food processor, I had a massive pot filled to the brim with two gallons of simmering salsa.
I filled my seven quart-sized jars and got them going in the big canning pot, but I had two smaller pints left. It just seemed silly to wait to do the leftover pint jars until those big pint jars finished processing in the big canner.
A lightbulb went off, and I remembered reading that large stock pots can work as canners with a few little modifications. Within moments I had two “canners” going at the same time, and those couple of pint jars sealed just as well as the quarts.
How to Use a Large Stock Pot for Canning
To do this, you’ll need two things:
- a large stock pot, deep enough to fully submerge your jars with an extra inch of water covering them,
- and a couple of kitchen towels or some extra canning rings.
The kitchen towels or canning rings take the place of the wire canning rack that goes in the bottom of a regular water bath canner. You don’t want your jars in direct contact with the pot when the water is boiling or they might shatter.
The process is almost identical to canning with a big water bath canner.
You’ll fill your stockpot halfway up with water and cover it with a lid. While you’re cleaning jars, finishing your recipe, and filling the jars with your hard work, let the water heat up to simmering.
When you’re ready to start processing the jars after they’re filled and lidded, carefully add them to the pot. You might need to use a jar lifter to lower the jars into the water so you don’t burn yourself with the hot water.
You can usually fit 3 or 4 small canning jars in most large stock pots. By small, I mean pint-sized or smaller. Quart jars will likely be too big for most big stockpots.
Though, of course, if you have a big family like we do, you might have some massive soup kettles hanging around your home!
After that, proceed just like you would for any other canning recipe. Fill the pot the rest of the way with water, at least one inch above the lids on the jars. Put a fitted lid on your pot, crank up the heat, and boil away!
And if you’re not sure how long to boil your jars, you’ll want to do just a bit of reading before you dive in. Some foods aren’t safe for water bath canning and all recipes require specific boiling times. You can learn more with the National Center for Home Food Preservation.
If you use a towel at the bottom of your stockpot, make sure that you don’t grab a corner or edge of the towel that may be floating up in the water when you remove your jars. If you do, no real harm is done. You’ll just be annoyed as you try to fish out sidewise jars in a pot of really hot water.
I was so glad I remembered this trick the other night during my mass salsa production. It made the whole process so much more efficient and got me in bed earlier.
Yummy salsa with fresh ingredients done in half the time I expected? Who knew a big stockpot had so much to offer!