I procrastinated about canning for almost eight years. I was afraid. Older women told me it was a lost art. Teachers told me it was dangerous. The FDA or AMA or somebody official told me to not even try-- the risk of botulism was too great. But then my Dad started doing it.
My Dad and I are competitive. We can't help it. It's the way we were raised. ;) He enjoyed gifting me with canned pears, peaches, and boiled peanuts. Yessiree, he loved the look on my face when he revealed his new skills. And then he gave me an even better gift. You know the saying about how if you give a man a fish, he'll eat for a day, but teach him to fish... Yeah.
Okay, so this is really all you need to get started. Canner (comes with wire rack and instruction booklet), pressure canner (comes with instruction booklet), canning kit (jar funnel, jar tongs, magnet-thingy to lift the lids out of hot water, and a stick-thing to let the bubbles out). The Ball Blue Book came from Lowe's, I think. The rest came from WalMart. If you live in the city (as I do), you may have to go to Ace Hardware to get your canning supplies. My neighborhood WalMart doesn't carry them. All of this cost about $75 to $85, one-time expenses. You don't need the Ball Blue Book because both canners come with instruction books with recipes. But I prefer the Blue Book. It has lots of recipes, tips, and pictures. I'm partial to pictures.
Other than that, you need jars. At first, just buy the box of jars-- they come with lids and screw-tops. After the first use, you'll need to buy more lids. I don't bother with labels. Simply write the contents and date on the lid-- you can only use it once anyways.
If you have your own garden and produce to can, Great! If you don't, make a trip to your local farmer's market. The prices are superb and you'll find plenty of fresh produce to can and preserve.
Have fun, my fellow ants!