HOME > Chowhound > Home Cooking >


Jam water bath w/regular pot instead of canner?


I'm planning to make jam with the strawberries I picked. I have a fairly small freezer and would like to be able to share the end results with friends and neighbours, so I'd like to process with the water bath method rather than use the freezer jam method.

Is it possible to use a regular deep pot to process? Or do I really need to buy a water bath canner? (The cupboards are almost as small as the freezer, I'd like to avoid buying another big pot if possible.)

Has anyone here made jam and processed in a regular pot? Any hints?

Thanks in advance

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. As long as the pot is deep enough to allow the jars to be well-submerged, it doesn't matter. Water needs to circulate below as well, so you need some sort of mesh or perforated rack underneath the jars. As long as you aren't using tall jars, a standard stockpot should suffice.

    1. I did! I have a large stock pot with a strainer which I used since I didn't have a canner. The strainer worked great to keep the jars off the bottom of the pot. If you don't have a strainer that fits inside your pot, just use a small, round cake cooling rack which you can purchase at Walmart or Target or any grocery store for a few bucks. Your pot should be deep enough to have 1-2 inches of water above the jars, and have a lid that fits well. I used a big pair of grilling tongs to lift the jars in and out of the pot since I couldn't find a jar lifter. My jam turned out great!

      1. with greygarious and with Jen76--you don't need special equipment. Half-pint jars might work better because they're shorter. Be sure that there's at least 1" of water above the jar lids and that water is completely free-flowing around each jar (jars shouldn't touch each other or the side of the pot or the bottom of the pot--folded dish towel works). This is to ensure that the jars are properly pressurized to seal and also so that the glass doesn't touch a hot spot that might cause it to crack or break (esp true if a jar touches the bottom of the pot).

        1. I tried the folded up towel method, and it worked just fine. MIL bought me a canning kettle for Christmas -- she cans but uses the "hot pack" (or is it cold pack?) method that doesn't involve processing. I'm more comfortable with processing as that's what I grew up with.

          3 Replies
          1. re: odkaty

            Hot pack or cold pack - doesn't matter. Should still be processed.

            1. re: Jen76

              that's what I thought ... and why I won't eat anything MIL has canned.

              1. re: odkaty

                Definitely. And, if it's veggies she's canning (anything not acid or not pickled like beans, corn, etc.) they should be processed in a pressure canner to get up to the right temperature.

          2. My mother used to put a couple of slats of wood on the bottom of the canner. We had a huge one!

            1. I tried the folded up towel method and had a towel boiling in a pot. I wish I knew how you guys did it-- it made me completely crazy. I finally gave in and bought a canner and a canning rack. However, the pot itself was a luxury. The important change I needed to make was to have a rigid something on the bottom of the pot.

              1. Another way to jury-rig a canning rack is to wire together enough jar ring-tops to fit into the bottom of the pot and set your jars upon that. Last fall I looked in vain for any substitute for a canning rack and not having hit upon the wired-together-jar rings solution, I took two disposable aluminum cake pans, poked big holes all over the bottoms of the two pans (held together so holes aligned on the pans), wired them together between a few holes and placed it bottom-side up in my biggest pot. Disaster ensued as the water boiled up through the holes, especially the center holes, and created a volcanic effect of water spewing up and out of the center of the pan (but of course only once I'd added my jars)!

                But in the absence of any other substitute the makeshift jar ring rack works like a charm.

                1. Thanks so much everybody, that's great help. I'm going to give it a try today. I'll let you know how it turns out!