Common Canning Mistakes to Avoid

Home canning is one of the best ways to preserve food, and every homesteader should try their hand at it! You’ll love being able to make huge batches of all kinds of canned food, and save for gifts or for food through the winter. However, since it is food preservation, it is very important that you do it properly.

These canning mistakes have the potential to actually make your canned food highly dangerous, so make sure you are following canning safety protocol before you dive in and start experimenting.

Here are some of the worst canning mistakes you can make, that you should definitely make sure to avoid:

1. Using an untested recipe

Don’t improvise! Plenty of the work you’ll do in the kitchen has room for substitutions, creativity, and improvisation, but not canning. Use a recipe you know has been tested and successful. There are many wonderful, reputable sources out there for tested, proven safe recipes, so follow one of these rather than making up your own.

2. Using non-canning jars

When you care canning, always use jars that are made specifically for canning (they’re not hard to find!) Back in the day, it was normal for people to re-use jars for canning, but these days, cans aren’t manufactured the same, and they’re not up to the task of safely containing canned food. Use proper canning jars, and you can reuse these as long as they stay in good contition. Of course, you can’t reuse all lids, which leads us to…

3. Reusing lids that are not meant for reuse 

Most of the time, lids are only meant for reuse, so be very certain lids are meant for multiple uses before recycling. There are only a few brands that you can do this with. So, to be safe, you’ll probably want to use your old lids for non-canning food storage and simply buy a new set of lids when needed.

4. Using jars that have been damaged

Always make sure your jars have no chips or cracks in them before canning. Inspect the rim carefully, as well as the body of the jar, to make sure there are no small imperfections. Cracks or chipped rims can cause the jar to either break during canning, or not seal properly, spoiling the food.

5. Leaving improper headspace

Headspace is incredibly important to follow, this is why your tested recipes are crucial! Leave the proper amount of headspace in the jar, it’s there for a reason. Too little and your jars could burst, too much, and oxygen will get into the jar, causing spoilage.


These mistakes are easy to avoid, and will ensure the safe preservation of food. Canning is a great skill to have, so make sure to keep these points in mind so your next canning session is successful!

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