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When choosing home canning supplies, the largest initial purchase is often the canner, which can be a water bath-style or a pressure canner. A water bath canner is typically a large pan and lid. Both the water bath and the pressure canner have a wire rack insert inside with long handles. Glass jars are typically placed in the rack, which is lowered into the water in the pan. In addition to the jars, a variety of canning supplies is needed for home canning, including lids, spatulas and funnels.
The glass jars used in canning are available in a variety of sizes, including swing bottles, which have an attached lid on a bale wire that can be swung into place to cap off the bottle. In addition to the amount of product the jars will hold, the mouth sizes of the jars also varied from regular to wide. Clear glass is the most commonly used, but early canning jars were also available in blue, which was designed to keep the light out and help the food to last longer. In addition to jars with a smooth finish, jars with quilted patterns and other designs are also available. Some decorative jars have alternate shapes, such as diamond or marquis shapes.
Canning supplies also include lids, which are available in a variety of styles and colors,including one-piece, screw-on lids, which come in black, white and colors. Screw rings are used in conjunction with flat lids and dome lids. Safety seal caps are one-piece, screw-on lids with a domed center section that will invert when the jar has sealed during the canning process.
Older canning jars typically had screw-on zinc lids or glass lids. In order to use the glass lids, modern canning supplies include replacement rubber rings that fit between the jar's neck and the glass lid. Decorative canning supplies include jar hats, which are used to add color and decoration to canned food jars; they are made of paper and are available in colorful patterns, such as red gingham. After food is canned, many canners make it a practice to label and date the jars, and there are labels that fit into the flat center part of the flat canning lids.
A handful of common canning supplies often helps to simplify the task. Funnels aid in filling the jars with food without dripping and spilling, and they are available in stainless steel and plastic. A jar lifter is used for removing canning jars from a water bath, and a magnetic lid lifter can lift lids out of hot water. A long, narrow spatula is used to scrape jars and to remove air bubbles from food-filled canning jars. For jars that will be re-used, a jar washing brush can be used to help clean the bottles.
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