Canning outdoors allows you to put up the summer’s bounty without heating the house! A properly setup outdoor canning kitchen is easy to use, and keeps the whole family comfortable during peak canning season.
I’ll admit it, I’m a canning addict. Seeing all my homegrown produce put up neatly in jars just makes my day, and anytime I’m having a bad day, a quick batch of jam turns it all around. Even though I love it, the truth is canning is hot, steamy work.
When all the fruits of summer come ripe, I’m doing everything I can to keep the house cool. An outdoor canning kitchen is the obvious solution, and it keeps all the heat outdoors where it belongs.
I’d dabbled in canning outdoors before, using a large turkey fryer propane burner to power a water bath canner. It worked great for pickles, which can be raw packed without much fuss. This year was the first year I went all in and set up a purpose-built outdoor canning kitchen, and I tell you I’ll never go back to summer canning indoors.
Lehmans sent me an Amish Made Canner to review, and that was all the push I needed to make the leap. It’s a beauty, and can hold 36-pint jars at once!
Honestly, I was worried that it’d take forever to heat up, but it’s designed to go across two burners which helps it come up to temperature fast. Combine that with a high output 3 burner outdoor stove and it was boiling in about 20 minutes.
Normally when I’m canning I start the water boiling before I even think about chopping the fruit, and this time I was caught off guard. The canner was up to temperature and I hadn’t even started the jam yet. Such a pleasant surprise.
The first batch I made in my new canning kitchen was my low sugar strawberry jam. Our berries come in heavy in early July, just as temperatures really spiking for the first time.
With a high output burner, I had some concerns that the jam might scorch, but the stove actually adjusted down quite low and I was able to simmer the jam on medium-low the whole time without any issues.
Still, I prefer to use an enameled cast iron dutch oven to help distribute the heat during jam making. It seems to cook more evenly that way, and a 6-quart enameled dutch oven holds just the right amount of berries for a batch.
As a prep station, I set up the same 6-foot folding table that I use for seed starting in the spring. By canning season, my seedlings are already out of our attached greenhouse and this table can work double duty.
We have a small kitchen in the house, and 6 feet of counter space seems downright luxurious. It’s more than enough space to hold jars, ingredients and a big cutting board for prep. Slip on a cute outdoor table cloth with canning friendly designs and I’m good to go.
The only thing that’s really missing is a sink, but that’s not a deal breaker. I can wash the produce in the sink indoors before bringing it out, which doesn’t heat up the house anyway. Someday perhaps I’ll set up a shop sink fed by a hose with a bucket underneath, but for now, this simple setup is more than adequate.
The Amish Made Canner has a metal trivet at the bottom that keeps the jars raised up so they’re not in direct contact with the bottom of the canner. It also has a divider that allows you to stack two layers of jars, in the same way that I’m able to stack two layers of jars in my 30-quart pressure canner.
When canning jam, the second layer isn’t really necessary because batch sizes aren’t that large. This is really going to come in handy when it comes to processing my tomato sauce, which I make in 40-50 jar batches…
Similarly, it’ll be perfect for bread and butter pickles, and the big batch of home canned peaches we do every year.
For now, I’m just happy to be able to put it across two burners so that it heats up super fast.
Our canning kitchen is set up in the shade on the north side of our shop, under an overhang where we store our tractor in the winter. It’s basically our summertime covered porch, and it’s ideal for an outdoor kitchen.
Canning aside, we just cooked our lunch out there today too. Later this week, we’re planning a big home brewing binge, and it’s the perfect place for brewing homemade beer.
All in all, I couldn’t be happier, and now I have the perfect place to test out all these creative canning recipes I’ve been accumulating!
What about pressure canning? I want to do potatos and dried beans but do not have a stovetop so I was thinking the outside burner on the grill. Thoughts?
That’s next up on my list to try. We’re planning on doing dried beans out there sometime in the next few weeks, and I’ll let you know how it goes.
Way back in the day it was called a summer kitchen. They had wood burning stoves to deal with.
Alot of canning people say to put jars in a draft free place after removing from canner. Do you leave your jars outside to rest, cool and seal?
Only makes sense! I do most of my cooking outside especially in the summer months here in Arizona why not do the canning too! Great article, thank you!
Can you pressure can on this stove?
Yes, I know a number of people that do all their pressure canning outdoors on two burner stoves like this. I tend to do all my pressure canning in the winter (beans, meats, etc) so I’ve yet to actually haul it outside and pressure can in teh summer.
I too have an outside canning kitchen with a very similar setup as yours. I have successfully pressure canned on my high output gas stove without any problem! I just adjust the heat as needed. I particularly enjoy canning pickles outside so my house doesn’t wreak of vinegar for hours afterward!
Wonderful, good to know!
I have a hard time with siphoning and I’m wondering if it’s because when I’m using my propane burner the temperature seems to fluctuate. How do you keep your temperature steady
Siphoning is generally cause by sudden changes in air pressure and temperature. I wouldn’t think that fluctuating temperatures from a propane burner would be extreme enough to cause this. Are you leaving the jars in the canner to cool for a while once the processing is complete?
Can you think of any reason a propane grill would not work?
If you can keep on just one burner under the pot, then it seems like it’s work pretty well. Good luck, I hope it does work for you!
Thank you for this! What about after you take the jars out? Is there a sheltered area for jar cooling!
You can just use the same table that was used to prep everything.
Eva M Arnim
First time canning outside. I have induction stove so; looking forward to doing this. How cold of weather is to cold And do you let canner cool off completely before opening outside
I am not sure if there is a temperature at which it is too cold to can outdoors. Most people set up an outdoor kitchen for canning in the summer time when it is hot in order to avoid heating up the house. You would follow the same canning procedures outdoors as you do indoors.
Thanks for the info. This is my goal for next summer. I love the simplicity of your set up; it’s exactly the type I am looking to do too. I think once I get it set up, I’ll find that most of my summer cooking occurs out there if not on the grill we already use a lot.
Awesome! Sounds like a great plan for next summer!
Hi, Just wondering how you keep your jars hot before filling them and putting in the water bath?
If you are using your dishwasher to clean the jars, you can leave them in there closed to stay warm. You can also put them in your canner as it is heating up or create a separate water bath.
Sally McGlaun Baldwin
I am so happy I found this article. We’re a couple in our 50s that moved from Florida to Arkansas a little over two years ago to homestead. We had purchased a house and some land living there almost the full two years when our house caught fire. We lost the house and all three of our vehicles. We are slowly trying to rebuild, but with no money no income and no resources we are living in an RV and a shed and a tent. We still have the Barnes our little, tiny greenhouse and the rabbit colonies. We have a few shelters but none of them are idea for everything. So, we basically have a very large spread-out spacious house because of where the RV is where the 5th Willis that’s used for storage only, and the shed that we sleep and bathe in. In other words, we don’t have an actual kitchen. We are building what we call our shanty house kitchen which is just an outdoor kitchen that we’re going to screen in have a channel roof on and it’s basically going to just be open air again not idea but it’s going to have to work worse because that’s all we can afford to do. So yes, I am so glad to find out that I can do canning outside I was afraid that due to dust and bugs that canning and preserving would not be feasible because of contaminations. I am very hopeful that this can help and work for us thank you for the article. God bless you.
I’m so sorry to hear about your house. That is devastating. I’m so glad that this post was helpful for you. Please come back and update us on your outdoor canning kitchen.
I’ve got that Amish canner, and I too love it. Keep in mind that it is very heavy when loaded, so make appropriate precautions to avoid tipping over, or lifting it off your outdoor stove. As for emptying out the water, I find it easiest to let it cool and then siphon the water into a pail to water some plants; this avoids the awkward lifting.
Those are some great tips. Thanks for sharing.
How do you deal with flies?
Fans are the best way that I have personally found to deal with flies in an outdoor setting.