Water bath Canner - The basic need for canning 'high acid foods'. Simply put, it is a pot with a 'rack' in the bottom to keep jars lifted up that helps to raise the temperature high enough to kill certain bacteria's for canning and preserving foods such as jams, jellies, and pickled foods or relishes. It is NOT for pressure canning foods such as vegetables, broths, or meats. It should be high enough to cover your filled jars by one to two inches at a rolling boil. Most 'water bathed' foods are processed for only 15 minutes or less. There are pots specifically made for this or you can use any pot with a lid as long as you put a rack in the bottom of the pot.
Pressure Canner - not to be confused with a pressure 'cooker', a pressure 'canner' is used specifically for home 'canning' of low acid foods. These are not toys by any means and are to be used properly and with supervision!! NEVER leave unattended!! These canners raise the temperature of food high enough to kill bacteria that water bath canning can not accomplish. However, there are foods that are NOT to be canned at home. For information about what can not be canned at home see SBCanning's page!
According to the National Center for Home Food Preservation "Pressure canners for use in the home were extensively redesigned beginning in the 1970's. Models made before the 1970's were heavy-walled kettles with clamp-on or turn-on lids. They were fitted with a dial gauge, a vent pipe in the form of a petcock or covered with a counterweight, and a safety fuse. Most modern pressure canners are lightweight, thin-walled kettles; most have turn-on lids fitted with gaskets. At least one style is still made with heavy cast aluminum, has screw-down knobs around the canner and does not have a gasket, however.
Modern pressure canners have removable racks, an automatic vent/cover lock, a vent pipe (steam vent), and a safety fuse. Use only canners that have the Underwriter’s Laboratory (UL) approval to ensure their safety.
Today’s pressure canner may have a dial gauge for indicating the pressure or a weighted gauge, for indicating and regulating the pressure. Weighted gauges are usually designed to "jiggle" several times a minute or to keep rocking gently when they are maintaining the correct pressure. Read your manufacturer’s directions to know how a particular weighted gauge should rock or jiggle to indicate that the proper pressure is reached and then maintained during processing. Dial gauge canners will usually have a counterweight or pressure regulator for sealing off the open vent pipe to pressurize the canner. This weight should not be confused with a weighted gauge and will not jiggle or rock as described for a weighted gauge canner. Pressure readings on a dial gauge canner are only registered on the dial and only the dial should be used as an indication of the pressure in the canner. One manufacturer now makes a dual-gauge canner; read the manufacturer’s user manual for information on when and how to use either the weighted gauge or the dial.
Pressure canners come deep enough for one layer of quart or smaller size jars, or deep enough for two layers of pint or smaller size jars. The USDA recommends that a canner be large enough to hold at least 4 quart jars to be considered a pressure canner for the USDA published processes."
Funnel - One of the most important tools you need in canning! You need a canning funnel. Typical funnels just won't do the job. Canning funnels are large mouthed to get your food into your sterile jars. There are lots of types available but this one is my favorite as it sits on the 'outside' of the jar and has head space measurements on it!! I got it relatively inexpensive at TJ Maxx.
Ladle - You can use any ladle you like but I found one that is awesome. It saves your arm, holds a full 8 ounces and makes it easier to fill those half pint jars with one scoop! Available on Amazon.com.
Jar Lid Lifter - An absolute must to get those lids out of your pots. It has a magnet on the bottom to reach into the pot to pick them up. They aren't terribly expensive but oh so handy!!
Food Processor - A MUST for anyone doing lots of canning or cooking. It is so versatile it is unreal. I have different blades and attachments for mine and I have a large cup model (11 cups). I highly recommend Cuisinart!! You can get all replacement parts online including extra 'cups' to have on hand so you can keep going. You can also get blade storage compartments so they aren't 'floating around' in your drawers and someone gets cut by them! You can chop, puree, julienne, slice, and more!! I even do some doughs in it! The best thing I do is my home made mayonnaise!! I can make 3 cups of mayonnaise in it in 10 minutes!! Awesome!! It is very much worth the investment.
Kitchen Aid Standing Mixer - One of the most versatile and functional tools for your kitchen and an absolute must have!! There are many sizes/styles as well. I personally have the 6-quart Professional Series due to the amount of canning/baking that I do and that I do not want to have to replace anything anytime soon. But, this size/style is not absolutely necessary as it is one of the most expensive. The features of this machine include:
You can add many, many features to this machine!! Attachments available include (but not limited to!): food grinder, sausage stuffer, food grinder, pasta rollers, ice cream maker, pasta extruder, fruit/vegetable strainer, and much more!!
Pepper Shark - This awesome little gadget is a must for people working with peppers of any kind! It works on all sizes, shapes, etc. It helps you de-seed and devein the peppers in no time with little difficulty!! To find out more and to see a video about it go here: PepperShark
Pineapple Cutter - This gadget I just got and it is amazing!! So quick, versatile and EASY!! You cut the top of the pineapple off, center it over the 'core' and twist it down!! The pineapple slides out and you have nice, even slices all cored!! Awesome!! Thank you to whomever posted this on SBCanning facebook page!!! Available at Williams Sonoma for $19.95!! I went into a store and got it and didn't pay shipping!
Food Dehydrator - If you love fruit roll ups, jerky or even 'gummy worms', this is the tool for you!! Coming in many shapes, sizes (round, square, tall, short), and wattage's, it is a very versatile tool to have in your kitchen. Many are 'expandable' while others have a set number of trays. Some come as kits while others you have to buy other items to use them. I have a Nesco American Harvest 1,000 watt Food Dehydrator Kit that came with 8 trays and is expandable to 30!! It came with 8 each of fruit roll sheets, 'clean-a-screen' sheets, and a dehydrator cook book. I chose the larger model as I knew I would be doing a lot of dehydrating due to my allergies. If you would only being doing a smaller amount, a 700 watt machine would be sufficient. I use it quite frequently!!
Vacuum Sealer!! - A must have tool!! I did a special post just on this one tool!! One of the most versatile tools you could have in the kitchen!! See my post here: Vaccum Sealers and all about them.!