How to can food without a pressure cooker? (+ 5 Canning tools needed)

In this article, we will answer the question “How to can food without a pressure cooker?”, and what are the tools required to safely can your food?

How to can food without a pressure cooker?

Food can be canned without a pressure cooker using the following reliable methods:

  • Boiling water bath
  • Oven canning

Canning is a great way to enjoy seasonal fruits and vegetables all year round by preserving their freshness. When done right, canning helps extend the shelf life of fruits and vegetables For up to 1-5 years or even longer. And you do not need a piece of fancy equipment to start with.

Regardless of what type of canning method you opt for, it is important that the jars you use are durable and sterilized and the lid is tight.

The canning tools

Canning pot

A large canning pot deep enough to fit the jars leaving 2 inches above the lid when the jars are submerged in water, is important.

Canning rack

A canning rack will act as a buffer between the extreme heat at the bottom of the oven and the jars. If you are canning using a pot then combine multiple canning jar rings using a heat-resistant wire. This should be able to fit perfectly into the bottom of the pot.

Canning tongs

Canning tongs are essential because you never want to burn your fingers trying to lift hot jars from the boiling water bath or oven. Invest in a good pair of canning tongs or use your regular kitchen tongs. For a better grip, wrap rubber bands around the ends of the tongs.

Canning funnel

Using a canning funnel will save you the cleanup for the drips and spills. While it is not an essential tool, but it makes the process easier.

Pressure canner

A pressure canner is a necessity to safely can low acid foods like vegetables, broth, or any other meat products. A boiling water bath will not ensure safety and you might become sick due to botulism.

Water bath canning

Heat the jars

This step serves two purposes:

  1. It helps clean the jars
  2. It allows the jars to expand and prevents them from shattering when exposed to high temperatures during sterilization.

Fill up a large pot halfway through with water. The water should be hot not boiling. Place the jar/s carefully inside the hot water using jar lifters. Let the jar/s stay inside the hot water.

Prepare a boiling water bath

For this, you need a large enough pot to place your jars such that they are easily submerged in water 1 to 2 inches above the lids.

Cover the bottom and sides of the pot with a buffer like a rug. This will prevent the jars from shattering due to direct heat from the sides and bottom.

Cook and fill

Now is the time to prepare your food according to the recipe. Fill the jars with food leaving 1 to ½ inch headspace. Pop the bubbles with the spatula if the recipe demands.


Clean the around lid with a wet cloth so that the lid is tight.  The lid should only be fingertip tight.

Place the jars carefully using jar lifters into the boiling water pot. Let it stay in the boiling water as per the recipe.

Remove and test the seals

After taking the jars out of the water bath, wrap them in the towel and do not touch them for another 24 hours. After 24 hours, test the seal. For this, make sure the lid does not move up and down when pressed from the center.

Try to open the lid with the pressure of a fingertip. If it does not open, the lid is tight and secure. If it ones, repeat the canning process or refrigerate.

Canning in the oven

Heat the jars

Heat the jars in simmering water to let them expand and preheat the oven at 250°C.

Prepare the filling and seal

Let the jars stay in hot water while you prepare your food according to the recipe.

Put the jars in the oven

Fill the jars with the food. Clean the lid area. Leave the headspace. Seal tight. Lastly, put them in the preheated oven carefully.

Once the temperature sensors read 250°C, turn off the oven. Remove the jars from the oven and place them in the towels, untouched for the next 24 hours. Alternatively, you can just let the jars stay in the oven overnight to cool off.


In this article, we answered the question “How to can food without a pressure cooker?”, and what are the tools required to safely can your food?