If this year has proven anything, it has proven that people who stockpile goods are not crazy. Food shortages (or the threat thereof) have driven more people to grow and preserve their own food. In turn, this has caused shortages of many canning supplies and ingredients that we have always had good luck in the past finding in the stores.
While things seem to be in short supply right now, you can still find these items if you are creative. Thrift stores, garage sales, Amish stores, small-town grocery stores, and some online retailers could still have supplies on hand. If not, all is not lost. These supplies should be coming back into stock in the next year. If you keep a good eye out and be diligent in buying them, you won't be caught in a pinch next canning season.
This list is things I find myself commonly using every canning season. Your list may look a little different, but I know I'm not the only person who uses these items. While I have not had trouble finding lemon juice, sugar, and vinegar, I have been noticing that these other items have been a little thin or nonexistent on the shelves. While you may not be able to find them now, they will be back in stock and you should be buying them then.
12 Canning Supplies You Should Stocking Up On All Year Round
1. Jars - While I would always have a good supply of all sizes, pint-size canning jars are the most popular with good reason. They are the perfect size for a lot of the food you preserve and you should be stocking up on them especially when you find them. I also find thrift stores can be an excellent place to find canning jars of any size.
2. Lids and Rings - These can be in short supply during a normal canning season so most experienced canners already stock up on them. Add in food shortages, aluminum shortages, and more demand, canning lids and rings have been hard to find. If you do find them, buy them. I always grab 3-4 packages a month anyway, but I will be continuing to do so once I find them on the shelves again.
3. Canning/Pickling Salt - While a box of this salt goes a long way, this can be used for more than pickling and canning. However, I keep a few boxes of this salt on hand just in case. Canning/pickling salt is preferred for canning because regular salt can cause cloudiness in your jars after being processed.
4. Lemon Juice - This is an item that doesn't seem to be in short supply right now, but since it has multiple uses besides canning, I keep a healthy stock of lemon juice on hand. I use this a lot when canning tomato products since it helps boost the acidity levels in the final product.
5. White Vinegar/Apple Cider Vinegar - This is another item that doesn't seem to be in short supply at this time, but again vinegar has so many uses besides canning and cooking. This is something you need to have on hand in a good quantity to use when you need it.
6. Sugar and/or Honey - These things you should already have a good stockpile of because they have a long shelf life and they are used for a lot of cooking/baking/canning recipes. As we saw earlier this year, sugar along with flour and yeast got a little hard to find on the store shelves. You need to keep these on hand for your future needs.
7. Pickling Spices - Whether you buy the pickling spices already prepackaged or if you use the individual ingredients, this is also an item that can be in short supply during the canning season. I remember one year I had to order celery seed and mustard seed online because our local grocery stores were out for a few weeks. I was in the middle of pickling cucumbers and zucchinis and needed them sooner than later.
8. Mrs. Wages or Ball Canning Packets for pie filling, pickles, salsa, and sauces - Some people use these and some people don't. I happen to use some of them because I really like their pizza sauce packets. I have also used salsa and pasta sauce packets. I can usually find them year-round, but during the canning season, they fly right off the shelves in my area.
9. Fermentation lids and weights - These come in handy especially for small batch fermentations. They sit nicely on top of the jars. While I don't think will ever be in a shortage, you never know what is coming and having an easy way to preserve food from spoiling is good.
10. Pectin - While some people do not need to use pectin to make their jams and jellies set up, I have found I need to use it. Whether you use Sure-Jell, Ball brand, or Ponoma Pectin, you should have a good supply of this in your cabinets too. Again, during the canning season, this can be harder to find since everyone is using it at the same time.
11. Pickling Lime - Again this is used for making pickles especially from scratch. I also use this for water glassing eggs so I always have a bag or two at home. Food grade lime (or hydrated lime) will be good for a minimum of six months and longer if stored in cool, dry conditions.
12. Cheesecloth - This is good for straining liquids like jellies before you add the pectin. I also use this to line my strainers for fine straining. I have also used it for tying up spices in because I want the flavor, but don't want to fish out the little seeds and whatnot. Cheesecloth can also be reused if you want to wash it.
If you are wondering what canning equipment you should have to efficiently and safely preserve your food, check out this article.
In addition to these items, if you use vacuum sealing bags or even freezer resealable bags, you should be stocking up on those too. I am also a fan of the Ball Freezer Cups for jams, broth, and garden produce I want to freeze in an exact quantity. I also like to use Clear Jel when canning pie filling since it also doesn't make the final product look cloudy.
I realize that you don't need huge quantities of some of these items, but you do want large quantities of other items. This year may be an indicator of what could happen again in the future and it's better to stock up over a year than to be worried when you are canning again.
Thanks for reading,
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