Using a Large Stock Pot for Canning {and Getting More Jars Sealed!}

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.

A large stock pot can help you do double duty while canning, or can save you money if you don't own a big canning pot yet

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 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.

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How to Use a Large Stock Pot for Canning

To do this, you’ll need two things:

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 stock pot 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 stock pots.

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!

If you use a towel at the bottom of your stock pot, make sure that you don’t grab a corner or edge of towel that may be floating up in the water when you remove your jars. If you do, no real harm is done. You’ll 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 stock pot had so much to offer!

Do you have any canning tips or tricks to share?

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    68 Comments

    1. I am going to make Peach Sauce (similar to apple sauce). I do this with my own recipe. And therefore I do not have a canning recipe for this. Could you please suggest a canning time that I should go by as an estimate. How will I know if its been long enough. 1st timer here.

      1. Hi Jessica. I’m not able to offer you a canning time since that will depend on the amount of sugar and the acidity of your fruit. I always recommend consulting a canning recipe book, especially if you’re canning for the first time. Ball (the canning jar company) makes a great one and is what I often refer to. You can find it here on Amazon or here on Bookshop (supports independent book stores).

    2. Kristen, Thank you for your thorough explanation. Now I do not have to go and buy another pot just to do some canning. I can’t wait until I use your suggestions.

    3. This is exactly what I am planning to do now that I have an induction cooktop. I have a couple very large stock pots that can hold canning jars.
      Thank you for your great article!

    4. Hello I am interested in healthy and natural ideas health. I am retired nurse now and studying all sorts of natural health and herbal medicine.

      1. Hi Carolyn! I’m delighted to hear that you’re interested in natural health. Have you been able to sign up for my emails yet? That’s the best next thing to do if you’d like to keep learning. Let me know if you need help with that!

    5. I’ve used a stockpot too, from time to time. But I never thought of using canning rings. That’s just brilliant, Kristen! Another thing I’ve used for small-batch canning is my 6-qt. Instant Pot. I can only do this with 4 oz. or 8-oz. jars, though. The 8-oz (half-pint) jars barely get covered with the required inch of water, but it does the trick, and I don’t have to lug out that big ol’ canning pot. It’s great if you only want to put up, say, 3 or 4 jars of jam.

    6. Somewhere I read that it is possible to use a large stock pot for canning. Your great article confirms this. However, how do I convert certain amounts of pressure to a flame from an electric stove. Have looked and looked but have not seen this anywhere. Would be forever grateful if you could help !!

      1. Hi Eileen. This method with a large stockpot only works for water bath canning, so I can’t help you with pressure canning. I hope you’re able to find the answer elsewhere if you haven’t found it yet.

    7. my stock pot has an insert and this insert has holes on bottom and sides. Could i put my jars directly in that insert thing, or still use a towel?

      1. I know the insert you’re talking about, but I’m not sure if it would work or not. You need to keep water or some kind of protection under the jars so they don’t shatter. You could try it if it seems there’s enough of a gap between the liner and the pan bottom. If you try it, let me know how it works out!

        1. I use just the insert in my stock pot and a couple dozen batches later haven’t had any mishaps!

    8. I tried your canning with a stock pot and it works!!!! Thank YOU, their is just 2 of us now so I got rid of my canner.

    9. Its so frustrating to find an article that is trying to explain how to do something but it babbles on without including the critical steps: I’m trying to can pickles for the first time using a water bath instead of a canner:

      Question: How long do I boil the jars once they are submerged into the boiling water? Do the lids seal while they are in the water or after taking them out? How can I be sure they are sealed.

      Sorry to be so blunt but some of us need clear step by step directions:

      Thank you,

      Joyce

      1. Hello Joyce. This post isn’t intended to give you step-by-step canning instructions. As the title suggests, it’s about how to use a large stock pot instead of, or along with, a large blue canning pot. Canning steps will vary based on the type of recipe you’re making. You’ll either need a specific article on canning pickles or, better yet, a good canning book. I personally use and suggest this one.

        I understand feeling frustrated, but may I suggest that there’s a difference between being blunt and being unkind? There’s a real person behind most websites, including this one. Best wishes on getting your pickles canned.

    10. I have a question about my jars…im using small jars, half pint I think…my question is, do I have to have my jars heated at all before I ladle my jelly into them? I’m assuming I should since they’re going into already simmering water…

      1. Hi Amy. Yes, it’s usually a good idea to keep your jars very warm. I usually keep mine filled with the hot water from the pot and partially submerged if possible. Then I dump out the water, fill with the jelly (or whatever you’re canning), then put back in the pot or canning rack until they’re all full. It keeps everything nice and hot so the jars aren’t shocked when they go in the water. Hope that helps!

    11. This tutorial was perfect. I have not canned for over 30 years, & thought it was about time. Knowing myself and how I am gung ho @ first then sometimes loose interest I don’t want to make a big investment. I have a large spaghetti pot, I believe will work well for canning. Your article gave me reassurance, all I need to buy are jars & a lifter. Thanks.

    12. Thanks so much for this great article!! I have never canned anything before, and once I saw the price of canners (YIKES!), I was thinking I might not start as the budget just won’t allow for it right now. But THIS I can do! I have five different kinds of tomatoes and four kinds of hot peppers in my urban garden this year (yes, even in the heart of L.A., you can have a great garden thanks to Earth Boxes!) For produce, I usually just grow tomatoes, roast them with garlic, olive oil, my garden herbs, etc. and freeze them for use in soups, sauces, chili, etc. in the “winter” (such as we get in Southern California, anyway), but I had no idea what I was going to do with the ABUNDANCE of peppers I have growing (FOUR kinds? What was I thinking!) I found a fantastic recipe for making pepper jelly, and I thought jars of it would make amazing Christmas gifts (especially on a budget!); however, I was pretty intimidated by the thought of canning it. This sounds incredibly easy and well within my budget constraints. I might even try canning some of my tomatoes as well!

      FYI for anyone reading my over-excited comment (HA!), I have a pressure cooker which has a wire rack, so I plan to use that for the bottom of my stock pot. Thought I’d include that in case anyone else has a pressure cooker that came with a rack.

      Best,
      Rene’

      1. Homemade canned goodies from your own garden are some of the best Christmas gifts, I think! I’m glad this gave you the nudge to give it a go and wish you lots of canning success.

    13. I have been contemplating making jams/jellies for some time and well… I guess the cold weather is getting to me, as I am seriously thinking about it this year. My question is… Do I NEED to use the towel on the bottle rings, or can I leave that out? Thanks.

      1. Hi Natasha. You can use either a towel or canning lid rings at the bottom of the pan, but you don’t need both. You just don’t want your glass jars sitting directly on the pot’s bottom or they may break from the more direct heat. I hope that helps!

    14. Im just wondering, using this method for half pint jars, would I be able to stack or layer jars or can I only do 1 layer at a time?

      1. Hi Stephanie. I don’t believe it’s ever safe to stack jars when canning. I’ve never seen that suggested in my canning books, so I’d avoid it. It would likely be easy for the glass to shatter during the canning process. Happy canning!

    15. I’m excited to give this method a try, I’ve never caned before and do not have a canning pot. I’m looking forward to preserving the bounty from my garden πŸ™‚

      1. That’s fantastic, Sonya! Canning is really a lot of fun once you see all of those jars lined up on a shelf somewhere. The *ting* sound from sealing lids is one of the most rewarding sounds of the summer. Enjoy!

    16. This method is only for high acidic foods? I used to water bath can peaches and pears and I don’t know how to use a regular pressure canner. But while making homemade veggie stock, it says you have to use pressure canner and not water bathe. Help!!!

      1. Hi there, Kat. Yes, this is just for high acid foods that can be safely canned in a boiling water bath method. I don’t have experience pressure canning, but I would guess that your local library would have books on the topic. A county extension agency might also offer community classes on the topic in the summer. I’m sorry I can’t be of help on this one! I hope you find the info you need.

      1. Glad you found this one! It’s an older post but a good one for canning season. I haven’t done much canning lately, but when I get back into it I’ll be doing double-duty with my stock pots again!

    17. I bought a large crawfish /shrimp steamer from Walmart and I love it. It comes with an elevated flat rack about an inch from the bottom. Very roomy and it comes to a boil quickly. It is super efficient and holds a lot of jars.

      1. Great tip, Sissy! Thanks so much for sharing that one. I’ve never bought a crawfish/shrimp steamer, so I never would have through to even look for one or try one for canning. Glad you shared!

      2. That was my question when I found this site..cause I’m going to try and use my Crawfish/shrimp as well..Sissy so how did it do??

    18. You just saved me a whole lot of hassel! I moved into a house with a glass top stove and really didn’t want to buy a $95 flat bottom canner (I think my husband secretly wanted me to break the glass top so we could buy a gas stove). Thank you so so much for this! PINNING!

    19. You can buy smaller canning racks to fit into a stock pot as well. I got one, and it’s so much nicer for canning half pint jars,because I don’t have to deal with the giant pot of water.

    20. I’ve used my stock pot. You can use older rings, line the bottom with them and they will keep your jars up enough and you dont have the towels insulating the heat out of the canner. Soem people keep some and use twisty ties to hold them together but I’ve never found it necessary. You can mix or match large or small mouthed rings to make it best.
      I have also found round cooling racks at the dollar store and that works too. I have extra canner racks that will fit the stock pot too. Especially the one that is too thin to really cook up anything in w/o burning it. I’ve mostly used it for heating up lg quantities of water either on the cook stove or wood stove.

    21. I can using a stock pot. But I’ve not heard the trick about putting towels in the bottom. So far have just put the jars in the water and let it go. I’ve not had any problem with my jars not sealing.

      1. From what I’ve read, the concern is that the jars can break if they are directly on the bottom of the pot, not that they may not seal. But it sounds like that hasn’t been a problem for you, which is great! I hate breaking my jars!

        1. How do you know if the can is sealed or not. I just did this and I hear the lid make a popping sound and I can press it down?

            1. I just found this page. My daughter and I were looking for ways to canned without spending a lot of money. This is old school way. I remember my grandmother doing it this way.