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VINE VOICEon August 20, 2015
I decided to try to preserve some of our extraordinarily bountiful harvest of Mission figs this year. My mom was out of town, and that meant I had to learn all by myself.

I read up on the internet about what process was involved, what I needed, recipe basics, etc. I settled on this as a basic starter kit. Had everything I still needed, very inexpensive. I felt if canning turned out to be a waste of time, at least I wasn't going to be wasting a lot of money.

As it turns out, this kit wasn't a cheapo little kit. All of the accessories worked very well, were sturdy. I managed to make 54 pint sized jars of fig preserves before I quit with half the fruit still on the bush (yes, bush -- it's still a baby.) Everything held up very well. Will look for this brand when I expand my canning to include the inserts for the pots.
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on August 11, 2014
This kit provided two key items that you may not normally have in your kitchen, the funnel and the jar lifter. We ordered and used this kit this past weekend to can 6 quarts of fresh tomatoes. The tongs came in handy (but who doesnt already have kitchen tongs?) for pulling tomatoes out of boiling water. The funnel was great and made it very easy to put the tomatoes into the quart jars. I also used it to help pour the boiling water into the jars during one of the last steps before sealing the jars. If you look closely the funnel extends into the jar by about 1/2 inch which is also the perfect fill line to use during this step.

The jar lifter was the next piece that was invaluable as we loaded the jars into the water and then again to remove them to cool. The rubber grips the jars and makes the moving around of the boiling hot glass jars much easier and safer.

For a basic kit it was worth the small amount of money to help make canning easier.
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on March 16, 2016
Not a bad set for someone like me who doesn't do a whole lot of canning, but you can tell it is very cheaply made. The jar lifter handles have popped off the frame several times, the magnet doesn't hold very well, the hinge on the tongs is rather loose, and the jar wrench bent to a point that it couldn't get a grip on the jar lids anymore. None of these issues are a big deal to me given how often I use it; the handles pop back in easy enough, the magnet will usually grab by the third attempt, I have other tongs already, and the jar wrench can be bent back into shape easily enough.
If you do a lot of canning, I'd recommend looking for something better, but for light use, these serve their purpose well enough.
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on June 3, 2015
If I had to do it all over again, I would probably not purchase this canning kit. It has a couple of somewhat useless pieces, such as the tongs - which are stainless steel and do not hold the jars well, and a rubberized ring holder/opener which I never use. However, the funnel, the jar lifter, and the magnetic lid wand, are the only things that I use out of this kit. I wish it included one of those flat-handled stairstep measuring tools, but it does not. I will be purchasing a different brand of canning tools to use instead of these, and will probably throw this kit into a garage sale later this year.
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VINE VOICEon January 31, 2012
I purchased this set a couple of years ago when I first began canning, and as a beginner, I am VERY glad that I did, trust me, you will use every single one of these items to make your canning life easier.

The funnel is just the right size for standard sized jars. The magnetic wand lifts the lids out of the pot an sets them nicely on the jars. The jar lifters not only make lifting and placing the jars easier (especially the filled ones), and I use the nice long tongs to work with jars that have not been filled. And yes, I have had to use the jar opener on stuck lids.

If you need a more complete set, or want to help a friend get into canning, Bernardin Canning Starter Kit - w/Canner includes everything you need, including the canner (water bath), four mason jars, pectin, and even a DVD and cookbook as well as everything included here.
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on May 17, 2011
I bought this set in December 2010 and have used it less than 10 times. The coating on the jar lifter is already splitting and flaking off. All I have used it for is to lift jars in and out of my canner-just normal canning use, no prolonged submersion in boiling water.

Review edited 1/6/12:
I contacted the manufacturer about this and they replaced it free. I haven't had much chance to use it since then but the customer service was great.
23 people found this helpful
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VINE VOICEon August 6, 2008
I am brand new at canning, and did my first batch prior to ordering these tools. It went okay, but I was immediately sold on the idea of a jar lifter. I looked and looked locally but couldn't find one, and this set was available for immediate shipment.

The jar lifter is fantastic, and ultimately I think it alone is worth the price of admission -- not because it's worth it in and of itself, but because it's a total necessity, so I would have purchased it at any price that wouldn't break the bank.

The other pieces are either already part of a moderately well-equipped kitchen, are nice but not necessary, and/or are not all that well constructed.

I'd opted to return a relatively expensive set of plastic funnels when I purchased this set, but the included funnel here melted a bit under the heat of the boiling brine I poured over the pickles-to-be. Same for the plastic surrounding the magnet when I used it (quite effectively) to grab the jar lids out of a simmer sauce pan. The lid wrench I'm just not sure I see a use for, since jars aren't supposed to be super tight and they tend to loosen when cooled anyway (or am I misunderstanding what this is for?), and the tongs, well, who doesn't have tongs?

Anyway, in researching for this review, I've come to feel like something of an idiot, because the pieces are available separately and eligible for the free shipping promotion of your choice. Unless you don't already have a funnel, or don't mind the possibility of plastic in your canned food, I recommend saving five bucks and just getting these two pieces:

Back to Basics 284 Jar Lifter
Back to Basics 174 Magnetic Lid Lifter

If you need more than those two pieces, though, this set will do the job.
164 people found this helpful
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on September 4, 2013
Funnel is great! It would be hard to mess that one up!
Lid tightener- never used it. You are only supposed to go fingertip tight. Totally useless.
Lid lifter- magnet fell out. Bought a new one at Wally World. Way better construction.T
Tongs- I have a better set in my drawer already. Unimpressed.
Jar lifter- This thing is worthless. The handle grips slip off of the wire handle, thus causing you to drop a GLASS jar full of SCALDING water. Terrible design. Progressive makes a MUCH better jar lifter. Don't waste your money on this kit!!!
One person found this helpful
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on August 16, 2016
If you are new to canning you really need to get this. It has the basic things that you need when strarting out. Now that I can more I have more gadgets, but these are still the most handy. You will accumulate things that you will use over the years as you can but these will still be exactly what you need. This arrived on time and was packaged neatly
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on July 22, 2012
I usually don't buy kits, as you're paying extra for things you don't always use. I found this not to be the case with this kit, as I do a lot of canning, and I do use all the tools. It is nice to have it all at once, rather than buying each piece separately.
Even though it's plastic, it does stand up to the test, as I have been canning for many years, and found it to be just as good as any of the other pieces that you can buy separately.
The only reason I did not give it five stars, is because I also bought a kit that came with a stirrer stick, that is great for removing bubbles in the jar, and this kit does not include that piece.
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