Safety is always Job #1 in home food preserving. Anything you can do to ensure your worksite is as safe as it can be, is good. From your experience in cooking, you know how important potholders are. They work by providing a level of insulation between your fingers and hot cookware. Canning, however, introduces another element: hot water. And we’re talking boiling hot.
When potholders get wet, they’re worse than not having anything at all. You may have had the unpleasant experience of grabbing a wet potholder to lift a lid on a hot pot and found that you dropped it fast. You may also have gotten a slight burn in the process.
You want a short stack of potholders by your stove, to be sure, and you want to be sure to replace them with dry ones as necessary. However, their use is limited. They’re designed to lift pot lids. To get those filled jars into the canner safely and to remove them safely once they’ve finished processing, you need a jar lifter.
A jar lifter is not a luxury. It’s a necessary item. It provides you with safe distance between the boiling hot water and the jars that have gone into and come out of it. Here’s a picture of one in action.
It works like a clamp, although one that opens and releases easily. Simply hold it in one hand and position the ends around the neck of the jar. It does exactly what the name implies. It lifts. It allows you carry the jar away from the canner and position it on a clean, dry surface where the jar will cool down.
You can find jar lifters at any store that sells canning supplies: hardware stores, the big discount chains (such as Walmart), and the larger grocery chains are some sources. You can also find them online.
Hint: when the canning season is over, store it inside the canner and you’ll not have to search madly for it next season.