With the bit of canning I've been doing lately, I've noticed how many small tools I've picked up over the years for making the process easier. Here is a breakdown of what I use for most of my canning:
Mason jars, lids and rings - Remember, never reuse the lids. They are made to seal properly only at first use, and they cost very little to replace with new ones.
Ladle with a side spout (hard to see in the photo) - I use this for syrups and jams.
Slotted spoon -
I use this for things like peaches or tomatoes, where I want to control
the amount of chunks and liquids that go into each jar.
Mason jar funnel - Indispensable for speeding up the filling process while keeping the jars clean.
Magnetic lid grabber - I like this better than the old method of fiddling with a fork, and it helps keep my hands off of the clean side.
Silicon tongs - I
use these a lot to orient the jars, tip them to pour out the hot water
after the sterilizing step and to move full jars without using my oven
Wire rack - Use this
to create space between the jars and the bottom of your pot for water to
flow across the bottom of the jars and to prevent bumping. I never use this with the handles for lifting jars up and down in the pot, as there are no sides and it seems too precarious a method for hot jars that are not supposed to be bumped!
Jar grabber (pictured at right) - Once you get used to which way you're supposed to hold this thing, his is the safest tool to grab hot jars without danger of dropping them.
Silicon oven mitts - I
used to burn myself through my old oven mitts when canning because they
would always end up getting wet, which transfers heat very quickly. That's why I bought these silicon mitts, which are
waterproof and easy to clean to boot!
Jar cleaning brush (below) - My small hand actually fit through regular mason jar openings, but for those of you who can't do that, this will be your new best friend.
Dish towels - Use these as a clean and cushioned surface for filling the jars
and letting them rest after removing from the water bath or pressure
canner. Hot jars can break suddenly when bumped or if cooled too
quickly. Resting on a towel helps avoid this.
Have I missed any tools that you find useful? Let me know!