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University of Illinois Extension

Using a Boiling Water Bath

  • Process acid foods. Foods with less than pH 4.6. Examples include: Fruits, jams jellies, fruit butters, and fruit preserves (as well as acidified foods like pickles, tomatoes, and relishes). (Note: Although not allowed under CFO, process acidified foods like pickles, tomatoes, and relishes too.)
  • Before you start preparing your recipe, fill the canner half full with clean hot water
    • Preheat the water to about 180°F for hot packed foods, such as jams, jellies, butters & preserves
    • Load canner with filled jars, water should be 1 to 2 inches above the top of the jars; measure Add more hot water if needed
    • Increase heat to the highest setting; cover the canner with the lid until the water boils vigorously
    • Set the timer: Start processing time after the water is boiling
  • Print a fact sheet on Water Bath Canning at National Center for Home food Preservation
  • For step-by-step details see “Steps in Processing Jams and Jellies”: National Center for Home Food Preservation USDA/University of Georgia website

Boiling Water Canner illustration