Firstly, what are you canning? Fruit? Jam? Pickles? Chutney? Something else?
What size jar would be suitable for you (or perhaps for your family)? You can use any jar size up to 1 litre (quart) in volume for water bath canning. What size you will the preserved food in the jar over the time it keeps in the refrigerator once opened. For example, jam is best eaten within 6-8 weeks after opening, so if you only use a spoonful or two here and there, we recommend smaller jars. Perhaps your family uses lots of jam in this time period? Then preserve in pint (500ml) jars. Same for pickles, chutney, salsa etc. – you may use a different jar size for each type of preserve, or the same size for all. If you’re unsure, we recommend 500ml or 1L jars for pickles, fruit, and savoury sauce; 250ml or less for everything else.
Next, how many jars can you (or will you) store for the year - or a shorter period if ingredients are easily available - like dried beans. If you’re limited on storage, then preserving smaller batches is the best option. Look at your store bought jars and tins of food. What are you buying that you use regularly (or is expensive) that you want to make yourself that can be water bath canned (or pressure canned). More importantly, look at what you buy and don’t use – don’t preserve food if you won’t use it in the recommended 12 months of storage in the pantry. We’ll discuss storage systems later in detail, so just knowing how many jars you can store in a cool, dark, and dry place is adequate at this moment. 
How many jars would you use and/or gift? We make lots of jam but don’t eat all of it – it is our favourite preserve to make unique flavours, for gifts all year round!
Have you made the recipe before? If you’re making a new preserving recipe, we recommend making one batch (one canner load), trial and see if you enjoy the flavour, consistency, jar size etc. – then make notes on the recipe and plan future, bigger (or smaller) batches! We find it is much less energy (time and money) to prepare several loads, one after the other, than to can for several sessions over a few days –that is for you to decide what fits into your lifestyle and physical or financial situation.
The next important consideration when preparing for canning/preserving is the batch size. What size is the water bath canner you are using?
What size jar/s are you using?
Before preparing a recipe, we recommend checking what jar size (and number of jars required) – check they fit into the canner in one load – and check you have enough new lids. Then, you can calculate the ingredients required. This reduces ingredient waste and increases time efficiency).
For example, a large 20 litre (21.5 quart) water bath canner holds say 7 x 1 litre (7 x quart jars) - depending on the jar shape - in a single layer (tier). This large canner might fit 14 x pint (14 x 500ml jars) in two tiers instead, with a second jar rack being used between the first and second tier of jars – again, this number of jars per batch depends on the jar shape and canner size. For smaller jars, this canner might even fit three tiers of jars, with racks between each layer so the jars do not touch jars above or below (and always one rack on the base of the water bath canner). ALWAYS ensure there is space for the water above the jars (and space for boiling so the canner doesn’t overflow onto the cooktop, either).
Therefore, the canner dimensions will determine the jar size and maximum jar number: the batch size.
Each recipe on www.foodpreserving.org is scheduled for updates (if not already done so). The new recipe formats have ingredient charts with yields listed clearly, like the example below. Once you know what size jar (and the number of jars), you can look at the chart to determine how much of each ingredient is required. We picked 7 litres as the maximum yield for our largest water bath canner in litre/quart jars, that also fit 9 x 500ml/pint-sized jars. Then we added a single litre/quart option as that is helpful to calculate when using other sized jars – 300ml salsa-style jars for example would require 0.3 times of each ingredient, and easily multiplied by the number of jars we want to make (or the number of jars we have). Ingredients are listed in cups and/or by weight (grams or ounces). Weighing ingredients is much more accurate, and helpful if you need to calculate how much to buy – especially if buying by the box as we regularly do!
Yield: 1 Litre / 1 Quart
(4 cups)
Yield: 4.5 Litres / 4.5 Quarts
(18 cups)
Yield: 7 Litres
(28 cups)
Fruits, vegetables, sugar, vinegar, salt, spices, etc.
Author: Megan Radaich
Image Credit: Megan Radaich            
Publication: www.foodpreserving.org
Kaya Wanjoo. Food Preserving kaditj kalyakoorl moondang-ak kaaradj midi boodjar-ak nyininy, yakka wer waabiny, Noongar moort. Ngala kaditj baalap kalyakoorl nidja boodjar wer kep kaaradjiny, baalap moorditj nidja yaakiny-ak wer moorditj moort wer kaditj Birdiya wer yeyi.
Hello and Welcome. Food Preserving acknowledges the Traditional Custodians of the land on which we live, work and play, the Nyoongar people. We recognise their connection to the land and local waterways, their resilience and commitment to community and pay our respect to Elders past and present.
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