Canning and Preserving Equipment and Essentials
With tomato season rapidly approaching, we here at Consiglio’s have been getting increasingly more excited about canning and preserving. Whether you’re new to canning, interested in starting to grind your own meat, or are a pro at preserving your own food, there’ll be a couple tools that will help make your work a little faster and easier. To help get you there, we’ve compiled our list of Canning and Preserving Equipment and Essentials.
General Canning Supplies and Tools
Whether you’re canning tomatoes by the bushel, or getting into small-scale preserving and canning, here’s a range of equipment and supplies that will help you get the job done. From the absolute essentials (like large pots for water bath canning) to tools that will streamline your prep and preserving processes, this list of general equipment is a great place to get started.
Large Pot: A large stockpot can be imperative when processing large quantities of food for canning, and is even more important when using the water bath canning preservation method.
In making a small batch of marmalade for our last article on canning and preserving, I was able to get away with using my largest stock pot (roughly 5 quarts/ 4.75 litres) to process my 6 small 250mL jars - and just barely. If you’ll be blanching bushels of tomatoes for processing, preparing and large volume of sauce, or water bath canning a number of 500mL or 1L jars, you’ll likely need a (much) bigger pot.
We carry large stainless steel pots specifically designed for volumes ranging in size from 30 quarts (28 litres) all the way up to 99 quarts (94 litres).
Martin Propane Burner: If you’ll be using a large pot, chances are you might want something to get it cooking!
Designed for outdoor use, the Martin Propane Burner is built specifically to accommodate large, heavy pots and is ideal for blanching huge amounts of produce, preparing large volumes of sauce, and even boiling water for water bath canning. By using a large outdoor burner, you not only free yourself of the hassle of trying to work with large, heavy (and often very tall) pots full of hot liquid on your stove top, and can bring the work outside to a height that is easy to work with, especially as part of your milling or processing production line!
Canning Funnel: A good canning funnel is the easiest way to get your prepared goods into your jars for either water bath canning or pressure canning with no fuss and no mess.
Jars, Rings and Closures: If using either the water bath canning method or pressuring canning, you’ll need glass jars, rings and especially seal closures. You can find jars from brands like Bernardin either new at places like Canadian Tire and even seasonally in some supermarkets, or pick them up second hand - just make sure to always use new seals, as they cannot be reused! If working with glass jars, it’s also recommended to pick up a pair of jar lifters - a small tong-like tool designed to safely lift and maneuver hot glass jars.
Skimmers: A skimmer or a large scoop comes in handy when blanching tomatoes before processing, or for retrieving other produce from boiling water.
Food Mill: Great for (very) small batches, a manual food mill is a great way to remove skin and seeds from fruits and vegetables, leaving only the puree behind. While typically used on a meal-to-meal prep basis, a food mill can be used to process hot sauces, tomato sauces and a range of small volume purees - and it’s a great way to explore preserving these small quantities (1-2 jars) before making the jump and commitment to a larger manual mill or milling machine.
Kitchen Scale: One of the most important things in canning and preserving is ensuring accuracy in your ingredients. Behind the scenes of many recipes - be it canning, fermenting or curing your own meat - rely on a precise series of reactions and interactions of salts, sugars, and/ or acids. The easiest way to ensure accuracy in your ingredients is to always measure by mass (ex. grams/kilograms) using a digital kitchen scale to prevent the measurement inconsistencies and errors that can easily occur (often without notice) when measuring by mass with units like teaspoons or cups.
Also commonly known as wine or cider presses, torchiettos are a hand-cranked press designed to squeeze the liquid from various fruits, vegetables or herbs making them a great tool for making fruit or berry syrups, tinctures and infusions as well as wines, ciders and meads.
Made in Italy, we offer two styles of torchietto: a standard, two pillar press suitable for light to moderate usage, and a stronger three pillar press better suited for harder jobs. As the torchietto is a tool with a range of use so wide it’s difficult to cover in just one paragraph, be sure to check back next week for our article specifically dedicated to the torchietto and fruit/ vegetable pressing!
Though you can get the same results with a sharp kitchen knife, some basic knife skills and some time, a mandoline slicer definitely comes in handy when preparing large quantities of fruit or veg. Coming with a slicing blade as well as a set of julienne blades in varying sizes, a mandoline slicer gets you perfectly uniform thin slices or slivers with at a fraction of the time it would take to do it by hand - making it a good way to streamline your prep when making anything from pickles to sauces to marmalade.
Tomato Milling Equipment
Here at Consiglio’s, our canning tradition is rooted largely in tomato milling with a family history of processing and preserving tomato sauce that spans generations. Whether you are just looking to get into tomato milling, have a well established tradition of your own, or are looking for a milling machine to tackle other projects such as applesauce, salsa or hot sauce, these tomato mills and milling machines have got you covered!
Manual Tomato Mill: Larger and more durable than the small food mills above, these Fabio Leonardi tomato mills are built to tackle some serious work - be it blanched tomatoes, or even small amounts of softened apples or hot peppers.
Featuring the same auger and screen design as the SP3 and SP5 tomato milling machines below, these manual tomato mills will separate your sauce from seeds and skin quickly and easily. Each size of the manual Fabio mills come in either “Stagnato” or “Niploy” - a difference in external coating. The Fabio stagnato mills feature standard cast iron, with the niploy mills having an additional food-grade heavy duty scratch and corrosion resistant coating.
Tomato Milling Machines: The next step above manual tomato mills, tomato milling machines are what you turn to when you begin to process tomatoes, fruit or other vegetables in larger quantities.
We’ve written before about why we chose the Fabio Leonardi line of tomato milling machines above all others - simply put, they are better made and more durable than other competing brands.
Ranging in size from 0.3 hp with the small Fabio MR2 tomato mill all the way up to the heavy-duty 1.5 hp MR10, there’s a tomato milling machine out there suited to your needs - whether you’ll be processing 2 bushels or 20 (or even more).
For a full breakdown of the tomato milling machine options available, check out our Fabio Leonardi Buying Guide here. Have a question about what unit will best suit your needs? Send us an email at email@example.com.
Tomato Mill Parts, Screens and Augers: If you already have a tomato milling machine, you’ll want to make sure it’s out of storage and running as it should well before it comes time to process your tomatoes - that’s where replacement screens, augers, and parts come in. Tomato milling machines function largely because of the friction that occurs between the auger/shaft and the screen - this is what forces your produce down the shaft and separates the seed and skins from the sauce. Given the screen and auger are at the forefront of the milling work, they can wear over time with use. You can find replacement screens and augers for your tomato milling machines here.
If your machine is not working as it should, or you’re worried there might be a larger issue, check out our Fabio Leonardi Replacement Parts and Schematic diagrams here!
Meat Grinding and Sausage Stuffing Equipment
A different kind of preserving all together, grinding and curing your own meat and making you own sausage is an amazing way to stock up on game meats, locally sourced meats and to control exactly what goes into your meats, sausages and bacon.
One step above grinding your meat by hand or using a food processor on an occasional meal-to-meal basis (both feasible albeit time consuming and messy options), a manual meat grinder is a great way to control exactly what goes into your ground meat, as well as control the final consistency and texture (something that is tricky working by hand or with a food processor). Small and easy to store, manual meat grinders are a great way to explore getting into grinding your own meat and making your own sausage.
Electric Meat Grinder: Taking home-ground meat to the next level, electric meat grinders are a great way to process large volumes of meat at a time, be it game or bulk meat acquired locally. Electric meat grinders are also a great way to get into making your dog food for your favorite canine friends to ensure that they too are getting great, nutritious food without extra fillers and additives.
The same thing goes for the Fabio meat grinders - all you need to do is pick up the milling attachment that corresponds to your motor size to convert your grinder into a tomato mill!
You can find our electric meat grinders here. Not sure what size milling attachment or grinding attachment you need for your Fabio machine? Check out our buying guide here for grinding and tomato milling attachment sizing and compatibility.
Sausage Stuffer: When making your own sausage, it’s possible to use your meat grinder to stuff your sausages - you’ll just need to pick up a worm holder to hold your auger in place once you remove the cutting knife, and some sausage stuffing tubes. For those a little more serious about their sausage stuffing, there are units available specifically dedicated to sausage stuffing.
Coming in either a vertical sausage stuffer, or a horizontal design (like the Francesco Palumbo or the Fabio Leonardi stuffers), having a dedicated sausage stuffer allows you to better your stuffing speed and pressure - two points that are imperative for great sausage formation and texture. Though meat grinders are a good means of getting into sausage stuffing, their strong motors can often work too quickly for stuffing, with the end result being a sausage casing with too much air or gaps and pockets in the filling.
Meat Grinding and Sausage Stuffing Accessories: If you’ll be grinding your own meat and stuffing your own sausage, it’s a good idea to have a couple accessories on hand - namely a couple different sizes of grind disc, a replacement knife or two, a worm holder (for stuffing sausage with your meat grinder), and a couple sizes of stuffing tube.
Meat Mixer: Another tool to streamline making sausages at home, dedicated meat mixers are an easy way to mix large amounts of meat for sausage at one time. Coming in either 20lb or 50 lb sizes, having a meat mixer saves you from having to mix your meat in small batches or by hand.
Meat Slicer: For those into smoking and curing their own meats such as bacon or pancetta, having an electric meat slicer can be the last step in getting the most of your final product - though you can manually slice your own meat using a sharp kitchen knife, an electric meat slicer can give you perfectly uniform paper-thin slices quickly and easily.
So, that covers our basic list of tools and equipment geared to helping you can and preserve your own food. Did we miss anything? What tool do you most rely on in your canning and preserving? Share in the comments below!