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Thursday, April 23, 2020

A Canning Jar Question for You

I had a busy morning the other day. I was organizing my canning supplies for this summer. I have such a range of sizes of jars, from 8-oz to 64-oz. Some of the small jars are very pretty and good for gifting. The largest jars are more utilitarian. As I was looking over each size, I wondered how best to use each size. I typically make salsa, pickles, relish, jams/jellies, and fruit in syrup. I stick to high-acid foods.

Here's my question: what size jars do you like to use for which preserved food and why? For example, do you go through a lot of salsa, so you like large jars of it, while you only use a little jam, so you prefer putting up jam in the smallest jars? Tell me, how do you like to use your canning jars? What has made the most sense for what you can and how much your family uses? Also, which foods do you prefer to freeze, because of texture or safety concerns?


  1. I put my jams and jellies in half pint jars. Some are gifted but there is also just the two of us. Salsa, green beans, some pickles....not dills, potatoes, collards, pears, relish,tomato sauce....all go in pints. In quarts we put tomato juice, canned meats, vegetable soup and dill spears.
    What I like to freeze are: raspberries, blackberries, persimmons, grated zucchini, strawberries, cherries, corn, freezer jam and sauerkraut.
    I use the 4 ounce jars for my spice mixes on my spice shelf.
    When the kids were still home we used many more quart jars.

  2. I'm with Linda...I can based on the size of my family and what is reasonable to use in a time period. I used to do quarts of just about everything vegetable and fruits but now I stick mostly with pints. Jam always go in pints or smaller though now I mostly freeze jam.

    I also use pint and 4 oz jars for pantry use.

    Family size plays a major role now that there are very few people at home plus I would much rather freeze most of my produce. I did run out of pantry space last fall and I canned a bunch of tomatoes and I honestly canned tomatoes over frozen ones. I just have a small house and no where to put canned goods.


  3. I do jams and jellies in 8 or 12 oz jars. Green beans mostly in quarts (takes 2 quarts for a meal these days). The half gallon jars, I use to store various dry goods, homemade broth, etc..., but don't can in them. We don't can salsa, but eat a lot of the "fresh" style, so would probably can in quarts if we used the canned type.

  4. I haven't really canned before, my daughter wanted to this fall but now I guess we will have to wait. One thing I wanted to mention if you read The Frugal Girl blog a couple of her readers have mentioned nice things about your blog. See how you are helping others.

  5. The size of the jars depends on a lot of things as mentioned above. However, as far as canning vs. freezing, I much prefer the taste and texture of most frozen things. However, I have two friends who lost a lot of food they had frozen from their garden when their freezer died, so now they can everything.

  6. Interesting that you posted this today! I rec'd a huge bounty of fresh (some not so fresh) produce from a start up of a co-cop. So I had to jump in months early to start doing some putting up. Like others I use jars based upon the fact that there are just two of us and some things we like a lot and some not so much.

    Last year I gave away boxes of quart jars. For some reason I thought my "big' canning days were over. Ah, not so much. First we are staying here this summer instead of going somewhere else. So we are back to planning a garden and planning on doing some canning.

    I saw on Brandy's Prudent Homemaker blog that canning supplies were getting harder to come by. I found some on Walmart's website and got 3 boxes (12 each) of quart and 2 (12 each) 24 oz. Then lids... Wide mouth are harder to find. When I pulled out my canning supplies - yippee! Have a lot of wide mouth lids and rings. Ordered some regular lids (have rings).

    So - long answer but here's the bottom line: Quarts for whole tomatoes, pasta sauce and some salsa. 24 oz for salsa (we eat a lot - and I'm going to do some "green salsa" this year), pint - various pickles (including jalapenos), sauces, jams. I use the 1/2 pint not for canning but bits and pieces in the fridge. I am trying to use jars instead of plastic in the fridge. Mary

  7. I prefer to can my jam in half pint jars. I gift a lot of jam & I think 8 oz. is better for that. I even can jam for my own family in that size. We like to have several varieties available for use in the fridge at one time.

    I used to judge canned goods at the county fair. Canning jar size is important for product safety, not just looks or convenience of use. A safe USDA approved water bath salsa recipe for instance, should never be canned in more than a pint jar. If you pressure can it, you can go to a quart jar, but only if you can it according to the time recommended for the veggie included that needs the longest processing time.

    I prefer wide mouth quarts for peaches & pears. I can about 120 quarts of those things per year. I prefer regular mouth quarts for applesauce. I use either wide mouth pints or regular mouth for my salsa. I also can what I call my "old people" fruit in pint jars. I have several older folks in my life that can't go through a quart jar.

    I use 1 1/2 pint jars for pickled asparagus. The last few years, as I've run low on wide mouth quarts, I've turned to regular mouth for my combined pear & peach mixture (chunked) that I use to make a winter fruit cocktail salad. I finally dawned on me that the pieces are small enough to come out of the small mouth size & that I had plenty of jars & the the regular lids are cheaper.

    At the fair, I saw many people can green beans, potatoes, peaches, etc. in regular mouth jars. If they were canned safely, they usually got a blue ribbon even though I never thought they looked as nice as they do in a wide mouth. Looks are important to me when I can as I give many jars away. However, in the last couple of years, I've realized that the regular mouth jars & lids do make economic sense, so I've utilized more of those.

    I make lower sugar & no sugar freezer jams. We also freeze roasted marinara sauce in quart size bags & corn in quart size bags. I prefer most veggies frozen over canned. Drying is also a nice way to preserve fruits (store in freezer to prevent spoilage).

    The gal who ran the open class canning building at the fair used to be a huge canner. She would pressure can hamburger, potatoes, veggies & then throw them together for an easy dinner. She canned a lot of chicken & chili & many other things. I thought it was so cool how she made her own "convenience" food. Melissa

  8. Thanks, all. I agree, how large a family influences the sizes needed on jars. I'm trying to use as large of jars that I think we would use in time, so I can use fewer lids.

    As Mary mentioned, like everything else, canning supplies are now being bought up. I was able to find some supplies through Ace Hardware, and also saw had some supplies still too. I compared between the two places and bought the cheapest at each. But the uber cheap canning supplies online are now sold out, as far as I could see.

    I've got these 1/2 gallon jars that were gifted to me and trying to figure how best to use them. The USDA recommends only canning acidic fruit juices, like apple and grape in the 1/2-gals. They are large, maybe good for dry storage, or for fridge storage, such as large batches of soup to use within a week.

    Linda, you said you freeze sauerkraut. How does freezing affect the texture?

    For myself, our family uses a lot of salsa. If I can get enough tomatoes, I will can quarts of salsa this year. I do jam now in pints, as they seem to keep a long time due to the high sugar. Although, I also can some half-pints of jams/jellies for gifting. I use half-pints for relishes and mustard, as we don't go through them as quickly as other condiments. I prefer frozen veggies, except green beans, and prefer canned fruit except berries. I also dehydrate some produce, to save space, reduce use of jars/lids. I'll be trying to dehydrate even more varieties this year, using my convection oven as a dryer (along with a small dehydrator).

  9. Hi Melissa,
    I just saw your comment. That's good info on canning salsa in quarts only if using a pressure canner. I guess it's back to pints then for me on the salsa. drats.

  10. I've never canned fruit juice before, but that is the only thing that's safe to can in the half gallon jars. I use them a lot for dry storage. In the summer, my husband drinks a half gallon of iced tea a day, so those jars are handy for that as well.

    My husband & I drove past an irrigation ditch the other day that had a large amount of blackberry bushes. They don't grow very well in our climate, so it was an unusual sighting. I immediately thought of you, Lili. I may go back there later this summer to see what I can find. It would be nice to have some free fruit! Melissa

  11. Lili, we find the sauerkraut texture is not affected at all when it is frozen. It also holds a more natural color than canned. We really like it that way.

  12. Hi again, Melissa,,
    Yes, do check back on those blackberries this summer. Free fruit that is flavorful is always a good thing. We're planning on doing a lot of blackberry foraging this summer. Last summer's bounty has carried us through this winter and early spring. Plus, it was a fun family outing each weekend. A couple of your kids might enjoy going berrying with you.

    I've been thinking I'd use these large jars for beverages. I'm using a lot of powdered milk these days. I could make up a couple of jars at a time, instead of refilling the one pitcher every other day (we go through a lot of milk, here, even now with my kids as adults). Iced tea sounds like another good option -- especially sun tea.

  13. Hi Linda,
    thank you, this is good to know. Do you have a recipe you could share for making the sauerkraut?


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