Canning Equipment: What brand should I buy?
I see a couple of different brands of canning pots and accessories on the Web, such as on Amazon.com. I can't tell what they perform like. Some are a bit more expensive, but I can't tell what you really get for that. Can anyone with experience give me advice on what's best?
I just went through the same thing. Afer looking at amazon.com i went to Walmart hoping to see them in the flesh and decide, but they had nothing so left empty handed.
On the way home, I stopped at a hardware store where I was able to buy the hot water tongs ($3) as well as a funnel ($2). I have been using them ever since, and it has been basically all I needed. Saved a bundle, too.
As long as you are not doing pressure canning, you can basically get away with very little.
Yes, by all means go to a hardware store and get cheap stuff. There's no such thing as a high-end up-grade of canning tools.
I'm surprised while you were there you didn't get a speckled enamel kettle with a lift out rack. They're cheap and very handy for keeping the jars separated as the water boils around them and also most useful for lifting everything out at once.
Another cheap and useful tool is the little plastic handle with the magnet on the end for lifting a single lid out of the pot of hot water they're simmering in.
The kettle and rack is priced at over $35 at the Our Own Hdwe store in my neighborhood. A 14 mile drive to Fleet Farm got me same item, same brand for $13 and change. Have a FF in your area?
BTW...love the magnet idea, rainey.
Having the jar bottoms off the bottom of the kettle prevents a condition called bumping. This occurs when steam is trapped under the jar under pressure builds up enough to push the jar aside. It is a little like having a micro pressure cooker under the jar where the jar is the pressure regulator. The jolt of the jars going up and down sometimes cracks a jar.
Heating is a lot more uniform with jars far enough off the bottom of the canner to have good water circulation.