Water bath canning is a great way to preserve high-acid foods like fruits, pickles, and tomatoes. In this guide, I’ll walk you through the steps to water bath can in your Nesco or Carey canner. Whether you’re a beginner or just need a refresher, these instructions will help you confidently use your canner. 

Step-by-Step Guide to Water Bath Canning in the Nesco Canner (Video)

Step 1: Prepare Your Products 

Start by preparing your products according to your recipe and following federal Food and Drug Administration guidelines. For demonstration purposes, we’re using jars filled with hot water. 

Step 2: Place the Canning Rack in the Inner Pot 

the canning rack in the bottom of the Nesco canner

Place the canning rack in the bottom of the inner pot. The Nesco canner comes with two racks: a steam rack and a canning rack. Ensure you use the canning rack for this process. 

Step 3: Load the Jars into the Canner 

Filled canning jars sitting on the rack in the Nesco canner.

Place your jars on the canning rack. Wide-mouth pint jars are recommended for water bath canning as they are easier to cover with water. Make sure the jars fit snugly on the rack. 

Step 4: Add Water 

Pouring water into the Nesco or Carey smart canner

Fill the pot with water, ensuring the water level covers the jar lids by at least an inch. Depending on your jars and water level, you might need to adjust the amount of water slightly. Aim for at least an inch of water above the jars. 

Step 5: Secure the Lid and Set the Pressure Valve to Exhaust

Close the lid and turn it until it locks into the closed position. Make sure the pressure valve is set to the exhaust position. 

Step 6: Press the Right Buttons on the Canner 🙂

Press the “Water Bath” button on the canner, set the desired processing time, and press “Start.” For this demonstration, we’re using a one-minute setting. However, typical water bath canning times will be longer based on your recipe. 

Step 7: Wait for the Steady Stream of Steam 

The canner will start heating the water. This process can take around 25-30 minutes. You’ll know it’s ready when a steady stream of steam is coming out of the vent. 

Step 8: Press Start Again

Once you see a steady stream of steam, press the “Start” button again to activate the timer. The canner will now process your jars for the set time. 

Step 9: Allow the Canner to Cool 

When the timer finishes, the canner will beep and turn off. Unplug the canner and allow the steam to stop naturally. Do not attempt to open the lid until the steam has completely stopped. 

Step 10: Open the Canner and Remove Jars 

After the steam has stopped, carefully turn the lid clockwise an eighth of a turn to open it. Let the jars sit for a few minutes before removing them to reduce siphoning. Use caution as the jars and water will be very hot. 

Step 11: Let the Canning Jars Sit 

Place the jars on a towel or cooling rack and let them sit undisturbed for 12 to 24 hours. After this period, check the seals to ensure they have sealed properly. 


Water bath canning with the Nesco canner is a straightforward process that ensures your high-acid foods are preserved safely. By following these steps, you can confidently can your produce and enjoy it throughout the year. If you have any questions or need further guidance, feel free to reach out or check additional resources. Happy canning! 

For more tips, tricks, and recipes, stay tuned for upcoming posts on pressure canning and other canning techniques using the Nesco canner. Happy preserving! 

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