Water Bath Canner

Also known as a boiling water canner.

A water bath canner is used with all high acid foods. This includes: all fruits, jams, jellies, pie fillings, pickles or condiments and tomatoes with added lemon juice.

If you have any low acid foods or ingredients you must use a pressure canner.

Water Bath Canner

water bath canner
A water bath canner is pretty basic. All you need is a large pot deep enough to cover your jars with two inches of boiling water.

Any pot will work as long as it is deep enough to have 2 to 3 inches of water covering the tops of your jars as it boils.

It must also have a rack to keep the jars off the bottom of the pot. The water must flow around the jars and the jars must not touch the bottom of the pot.

A pot specifically made for water bath canning makes things very easy. It will come with a rack for your jars.

On a standard canner this rack will have "hooks" on the handles that will hook to the side of the canner and hold the jars up out of the water. Then the jars can be lowered into the canner when ready.

If you are using a stock pot, you can use what ever you have on hand as a rack. It does not need to hang on the side of the canner. The rack can be as simple as a rack from a round roasting pan. What ever will fit in your pot. It's most important function is keeping the jars off the bottom. Canning rack alternative ideas.

Canner Sizes

water bath canner 21.5 quart boiling water bath will hold up to seven 1-quart jars
waterbath canner Smaller 11.5 quart pots will hold up to seven 1-pint jars.
water bath canner Large,33 quart pots will hold up to 9 1-quart jars.

Stainless Steel Canner

I would recommend getting a stainless steel water bath canner. They are a bit more expensive, but are a higher quality product and will last.

The stainless canner is much sturdier and doubles as a stock pot for other cooking. I've heard that stainless steel caners can be used on flat top stoves. I don't have personal experience with this, so check with your stove manufacturer; however the makers and reviewers say it is perfectly safe.

stainless steel water bath canner Victorio Water Bath Canner

This Victorio is the Canner I'd recommend if you are looking at the stainless steel.

There are others available however, I've read in that some stainless canners are not quite tall enough for quart jars to fit and still have enough room for water to comfortably cover the jars by a few inches. This is a larger quart capacity.

It also doubles as a steam canner. See below.

Steam Canner

Finally there is the steam canner. Not to be mistaken for a pressure canner, this type of a canner is sold as a substitute for a water bath. The jars are placed in the shallow bottom portion with water. The top is placed over the jars. The water is brought to a boil which causes steam to build up inside.

You should know that the USDA does not endorse steam canning. (not to be confused with pressure canning) They have not researched them enough to make any safety recommendations. The concern is whether the steam will bring the jars and contents to the heat level needed to ensure safety.

I don't have one and have no experience with it. However I have heard good things about this canner and I love the idea of only heating a few inches of water. You'll have to be the judge as to whether this is safe for your family or not. Do NOT use these with any low acid product. No Vegetables, and No Meat. Check the instructions that come with the canner for directions and timing suggestions.

My story with a Large Water bath canner and Auctions! Love it.

Since I put up a lot of jars each year, I wanted to purchase a large capacity pot in order to jar nine quarts at a time. I put off purchasing one because I was concerned about how it would fit on my standard sized stove.

One day I was at an auction and there was a beautiful blue large 9 quart water bath canner--complete with jars! I bid on it and won!! I got it at a great price. I love auctions!.


This larger size pot fits over two burners on my stove, and it works perfectly fine.

It does take longer to heat. This is to be expected because it holds so much more water. If I am canning a lot of something it is nice to be able process nine quarts at a time. When canning several batches in a row, the canner does not have to reheat all that water as it is already hot from the first batch. The heating time is more noticeable only when I have a single batch to process.

The rack with this canner does not work well with the smaller pints and half pints. They tend to slide through the gaps. In addition, there would be so much wasted space between your jars, you'd be heating much more water than necessary. I'd recommend replacing with a different rack if you plan on doing many pints or half pints.

Articles for more information

Equipment - Canners and other specialty tools can be found in one place here.

Tomatoes Tomatoes the new low acid.

Water Bath Canning - step by step instructions on how to use a water bath canner.

Canning Equipment

Pressure Canner
Water Bath Canner
Canning Jars
Canning Jar Lids
Canning Funnel
Jar Lifter and Magnetic Wand
Canning Books
Canning Kits
Other Canning Equipment Rack
Apple Peeler Corer Slicer
Food Strainer or Food Mill
Clear Measuring Bowl or Batter Bowl
Clear Jel
Antique Jars

Canning Books by Sharon

I have attempted to share safe preserving methods. However, I make no promises. You alone are responsible for your health. Be aware of current safety recommendations.
See my Full Disclaimer here.