Although more popular 50 years ago, home canning is still practiced as a means of preserving fruits and vegetables. Along with glass jars, a home canner needs canning jar bands and lids. These are found wherever canning supplies are sold.
Canning jar bands and lids are a huge improvement over filling tin cans and heating them in open kettles, hoping the food would be preserved. Canning, in fact, goes back to Napoleon and his offer of a reward to the person who could figure out a way to better preserve food, so his soldiers in the field could eat better food, without the attendant risks of botulism. Nicholas Appert came forward with his idea for sealing cooked food in a can and won the prize.
Modern canning procedures utilize the same glass jar approach. The jars are reusable and are sealed with disposable bands and lids. The lids have a rubber gasket on the inside, which seal when the jars are placed in the pressure cooker, which also sterilizes them. The canning jar bands — the metal rings — were then screwed on tightly and when cooled, the jars are stored.
Most canning jar bands come in boxes with the rings, and there are usually a few extra lids in a box, in case not all the lids have flawless rubber gasket seals. These are crucial in making certain the lids seal properly and the food in the jars remains unspoiled.
Canning jars usually come in pint and quart sizes, but have mouths that take the same size of canning jar bands and lids. This means a cook doesn't have to buy separate sizes of canning jar bands and lids. A standard pressure cooker will hold either size comfortably.
Home canning was a crucial survival strategy during the Great Depression, and neighbor women would pamper their canning jars, to keep them from cracking and would also share a pressure cooker, or get together at one home and have a canning day, and share among the families their stores.
Cooks wanting to learn the basics of canning can check the Internet, or attend community education classes. Most colleges with an agricultural department will also have brochures and material available about canning, and these can be found through the County Extension System, or by contacting the college or university.