I love making homemade preserves, but home canning can come with a few difficulties in terms of the equipment.
First problem: a pot to seal/process the jars in
I have a pot large enough to make a decent-sized batch of jam in. But, if I’m making a batch of jam (yielding 5 or 6 jars of jam), my one big pot has jam in it, so it is obviously unavailable for heating a large amount of water and processing the jars. Over the years, I have tried using my smaller pots for this step, splitting the jars among them, but really, it’s a mess (and sometimes, I can only fit 1 to 2 jars per pot). The small pots overflow because in order to have the jars immersed in the hot water bath, the pots have to be filled to the rim, and boiling. My “typical setup” just doesn’t work well.
Second problem: a rack to fit the bottom of the pot
I don’t like the jars of jam to be rattling directly on the bottom of the pot for the processing step. It honestly makes me nervous. Every year, I come up with a different, creative solution to this problem. One time, I lined the bottom with blue kitchen towels. Apparently the towel dye was more attached to the boiling water than the towel (oops!), so my towels lost most of their lovely blue hue. Another time, I used extra jar lid rings to line the bottom of the pot, creating a DIY rack of sorts. This also worked, but this trick assumes that you have extra lids lying around, which is rare, at best.
With these problems in mind, I asked Bernardin if I could test out their Home Canning Starter Kit. It’s basically the handy tool kit that I am madly in love with and reviewed earlier this month coupled with other key items that I felt my canning tool kit was missing.
Here’s what’s inside the Home Canning Starter Kit from Bernardin
1. Set of 4 decorative 250 mL mason jars—I remember my mom using this exact style of jars when she made preserves when I was younger. In fact, I used one of those diamond-patterned jars in an art project as a child, and I transformed the jar into a stained glass votive candle holder. I much prefer this style of jar to those with embossed fruits.
2. Jar lifter with rubberized grip so that you can lift jars out of the canning water bath without them slipping.
3. Instructional DVD to get you started with your kit
4. Giant canning pot with lid so you can process a batch of home preserves (especially useful if you only have one big pot at home!)
5. & 6. Magnetic lid lifter and air bubble remover/headspace gauge
7. Non-reactive wide-mouth funnel so that you can cleanly transfer preserves to the jars without making a mess
8. Pectin, which is helpful in many cases for achieving better-set jams, especially from fruits with less pectin
9. Canning rack that fits perfectly into the canning pot, with handles so that you can easily drop down the lot of jars into the canning pot.
This kit is great, not only for those starting out with home canning, but also for those who already make preserves, wanting to simplify the process. The starter kit has all the helpful (and I’d say even essential) tools from that handy canning tool kit, and a giant pot and rack, which definitely solve my two major home canning problems. The only important thing to note about the kit is the pot is HUGE, meaning it takes a long time to boil such a large volume of water (almost an hour on my stove to boil enough water for processing the jars). This is not the pot size you’d use if you want to seal two small jars of jam. This is better for processing a batch of 5 or 6 jars, and larger jars even.
NOW FOR THE GOOD PART | THE GIVEAWAY!
To win this Bernardin home canning starter kit, simply leave me a comment below, telling me which tool from this starter kit you think will be the most helpful this summer for your home canning projects. For a bonus entry, pin an image from this post and leave me another comment with the link to the pin. Entries must be posted by Sunday, August 3rd, 2014 at 11:59 PM EST and one winner will be chosen at random*.
*Sorry, limited to Canadian readers only. No purchase necessary. Winner will be chosen randomly via random.org, and then contacted by email after the contest ends.
If you don’t win, you can always easily purchase the canning starter kit (Amazon), as well as the smaller tool kit I featured previously (Amazon), and mason jars (Amazon). They are all well worth it. Good luck and happy canning!
PLEASE NOTE THE GIVEAWAY IS NOW CLOSED. CONGRATULATIONS TO ASIYA B., AND THANKS TO EVERYONE FOR PARTICIPATING!
Disclosure: Bernardin sent me the home canning starter kit to try out. I chose to feature it. I arranged with Bernardin to host this giveaway.